Posts Tagged ‘WO writings’

Fraud week V: lucrative gore

A good bit of creativity has gone into the faking of accidents and injuries, from NYC injury king Morris Eisen’s special ruler for photographing the size of potholes (calibrated fictitiously so as to exaggerate their size) to the Philadelphia auto guys who “went as far as to have employees gather and store deer blood, hair and carcasses in the shop’s garage to be used as props in photos that were later submitted with insurance claims.” And some are more audacious than creative, as when a California woman got in trouble after allegedly sending “faked treatment documents and burn photos from a hospital website” to bolster a hot coffee spill claim against McDonald’s.

An entertaining and informative treatment of this subject is Ken Dornstein’s 1996 Accidentally on Purpose: The Making of a Personal Injury Underworld in America, about which I wrote this review at the time. Excerpt from my review:

In Illinois, runners took over the Community Hospital of Evanston, dispensing with doctors’ supervision and discouraging “real” nurses from applying. (“You’re going to be so bored here. There is nothing to do.”) The driver of the courtesy van whisking clients from law offices told why he liked the job: “No one is really hurt” so “no one gets sick on me”.

True-crime books usually aim to show how the dirty deed is done, and this one does not disappoint:

How do I get started? For a “paper” accident, try inflicting “controlled damage” on a couple of cars with a sledgehammer in a dark parking lot. Insert passengers. Summon a witness. Gather broken glass in bags for re-use.

That was easy, what next? “Staged” accidents: Buy rustbuckets, insure one and run it into another one full of recruited claimants-to-be (“cows”). If you’re nice, give them pillows.

I need symptoms! “OK, you can take tingles, and you can take hips or your shoulder,” said one coach to his aspiring victims. “But don’t go saying the exact same things.” And be glad you aren’t being sent to one of the House of Pain operations that massage would-be claimants with sandpaper and jagged can lids or flog them with apple-filled sacks. Let alone “Nub City”, the Florida town that, in the 1970s, could boast that something like 10% of its population had practiced self-amputation for insurance, typically popping a left hand with a hunting rifle.

Vernon, Florida, subject of a famous documentary by Errol Morris, is the subject of coverage here (“By the end of the ’50s, the Florida Panhandle was responsible for two-thirds of all loss-of-limb accident claims in the United States.”) and here.

The IRS targeting scandal: merely “thoughtless” and “careless”?

The Washington Post has published my letter to the editor responding to an editorial that had depicted the Internal Revenue Service targeting episode as merely the “thoughtless” result of “carelessness” and “incompetence.” Yet the scandal wasn’t just the flagging of right-of-center (c)(4) groups for challenge not faced by their left-of-center counterparts, but the outrageous information demands placed on many of those groups, including copies of all literature distributed, transcripts of speeches and radio guest appearances, printouts of all social media output, names of both donors and family members, and more.

Earlier coverage here.

CRST Van Expedited v. EEOC

Another unanimous loss for Obama, another trip to the dunking booth for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: my new Cato post on last week’s Supreme Court decision on the proper standard for awarding attorneys’ fees to prevailing defendants in Title VII employment discrimination cases. Justice Thomas has it right in his concurrence: the ruling at hand is all well and good, but the Court needs to go further and rethink precedents that bend over backward to give prevailing employment plaintiffs a set of fee entitlements that it does not allow to prevailing defendants (& welcome SCOTUSBlog readers).

An on-the-clock future for white-collar work in America?

Welcome to Thomas Perez’s new on-the-clock white-collar workplace, in which employers will be under the legal gun to monitor lunch breaks, revoke permission to telecommute, disallow “comp time” setups allowing a day with the kids, and forbid email or company-cellphone use after business hours. I’ve got a link-heavy new post at Cato surveying the damage after the Department of Labor’s final adoption of its new overtime rules, much criticized already in this space. The press is already reporting on the business consequences.

Donald Trump vs. the Washington Post

Do you think Donald Trump is the first U.S. politico to menace publishers over bad coverage? Not even close. My new Cato piece cites a few examples from a depressingly long history. Plus: reprinted at Newsweek.

Bonus: Sen. Sherman Minton (D-Ind.) who put forth the remarkable proposal to make it “a crime to publish anything as a fact anything known to be false,” and who had led a Senate committee’s investigation of the Gannett newspaper chain over its (then) Republican-leaning politics, was later nominated by President Harry Truman to be an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served for seven years and became a leading exponent of judicial deference to the executive branch.

The FDA’s war on vaping

I’ve got a new piece at Ricochet on the Food and Drug Administration’s just-announced measures against vaping (e-cigarettes), which will drastically restrict and maybe even ban a popular option for smokers seeking to quit the cigarette habit. It’s not just an assault on individual choice and commercial freedom — it could wind up killing people. Read it here.

Relatedly, Andrew Stuttaford thinks I am too kind in describing CDC director Thomas Frieden as in denial about the prospective health benefits when smokers switch to vaping. And thank you to Andrew for describing Overlawyered as “must-read”.

P.S. Faced with two options on how to regulate premium cigars, FDA chose the harsher, of course [HalfWheel, Jacob Grier (“The market for cigars is about to become a lot less diverse and a lot more boring.”)]

More: I’ve got a piece up at Cato now on winners and losers from the FDA’s move. Plus, a new Jacob Sullum column: “The FDA’s deadly e-cigarette regulations.” And a Washington Post editorial defends the agency’s action on a for-the-children rationale, yet says not a word about the precipitous plunge in youth smoking rates and only refers in passing to the issue of harm reduction.

Politics roundup

  • Disparage at thy peril: three Democratic lawmakers demand FTC investigation of private group that purchased $58,000 in ads disparaging CFPB, a government agency [ABC News] So many politicos targeting their opponents’ speech these days [Barton Hinkle]
  • A pattern we’ve seen over the years: promoting himself as outspoken social conservative, trial lawyer running for chairman of Republican Party of Texas [Mark Pulliam, SE Texas Record]
  • Some of which goes to union political work: “Philly Pays $1.5 Million to ‘Ghost Teachers'” [Evan Grossman, Pennsylvania Watchdog via Jason Bedrick]
  • “However objectionable one might find Trump’s rhetoric, the [event-disrupting] protesters are in the wrong.” [Bill Wyman/Columbia Journalism Review, earlier]
  • Hillary Clinton’s connections to Wal-Mart go way back, and hooray for that [Ira Stoll and column]
  • I went out canvassing GOP voters in Maryland before the primary. Here’s what they told me. [Ricochet]

Justice Scalia’s jurisprudence

Scalia for the general reader: my new piece briefly explains his textualism, originalism, and rules jurisprudence [American Media Institute Newswire, syndicated] And in a new Cato Podcast, Caleb Brown interviews Tim Lynch and me about the Justice’s legacy in the areas of criminal law, regulation, and administrative law:

In his long battle against vagueness in defining crimes, Justice Antonin Scalia was a true hero of liberty and the rule of law. Harvey Silverglate discusses that here.