The Twitter Fail by Trial Lawyers

You may think that there is too much ” advertising or marketing by trial lawyers. And in one sense you are right if you think in terms of subway ads, or worse (ads over urinals or at funeral home web sites).

But you know what? There is one group that does a pretty lousy job of getting its message out, at least insofar as it pertains to Twitter. And that is our trial lawyer associations — those groups of lawyers that have pooled our resources in order to advocate for consumers so that rights are not stripped away.

Despite Twitter being cheap, easy and very effective in getting a message out to the general populace (as should be abundantly obvious now given the recent election), the various trial lawyer associations do a crappy job.

I’ll pick on the American Association for Justice today, of which I am a card-carrying member. With 56,000 members, this is the single most prominent national trial lawyer group in the country that fights for a fair and effective civil justice system.

The group not only lobbies Congress, but has a wide range of sections devoted to different practice areas, and publications to meet most any need. If you represent injured people as part of your practice, there is no doubt you should be a member.

But I am flummoxed by the lack of something so simple – social media outreach to those that aren’t trial lawyers. To “regular people” who very much have a vested interest in the outcome of, say, the attempt to grant immunity to medical practitioners or to knee-cap class action suits.

The AAJ Twitter feed has just 6,000 followers. While a large number of followers isn’t always meaningful, since phony “ghost” followers can be bought, a relatively low number of followers for a large organization is indicative of a failure to adequately utilize the medium.

AAJ’s  contribution to the masses via this forum consists of mostly just posting its own stories. There is little engagement with others. No re-tweeting of articles written by others. No responsive public commentary on issues of the day that matter to people likely to be affected.

The AAJ Twitter feed acts, for the most part, as little more than another means of distributing press releases and research reports. But it fails at this.

How do I know it fails? Because few of its tweets have been shared more than 10 times. That is, quite simply, a dreadful track record.

If we are going to put all the time, money and effort into creating research reports — that debunk myths and use empirical data instead of relying on anecdotes — shouldn’t we spend a little time actively promoting those reports and get them out into the public?

The more folks that read them, the more that share them, the more likely it becomes a subject of town hall meetings and additional press. Don’t we want regular folk calling their elected representatives regarding the evisceration of rights?

It takes time to build up relationships with other people, particularly those with a voice likely to rebroadcast messages. The best time to start doing this was a few years ago. The second best time is today.

AAJ should be doing everything it can to encourage, and maximize, the voices of those that are fighting for the same thing — fair access to the courts.

State trial lawyer associations are, for the most part, no better. Every state, to my knowledge, has a trial lawyer association. But few are utilizing a widely used and free platform to get the messages out to those that may lose rights.

Tort “reform” was not part of the election — if it was ever mentioned by Trump or Clinton I missed it.

But with Republicans in charge now of House, Senate and White House, it sure as hell is on the front burner now.

So please, get out there, engage, and be more active in getting the messages out. Today, not tomorrow.


The Twitter Fail by Trial Lawyers syndicated from http://personalinjuryattorneyphiladelph.tumblr.com/

Republicans Move to Grant Immunity for Medical Malpractice

Yes, a real case. Yes, the x-ray hangs in my office.

Well, this comes as no surprise. With Republicans now controlling the Senate, House and White House, they have decided that they didn’t really mean what they said about states rights. And they didn’t really mean what they said about personal responsibility.

Out of the House of Representatives, courtesy of Rep. Steve King of Iowa, comes a bill (H.R. 1215) to grant immunity to doctors and hospitals if they negligently injury someone.

Given that 210,000 to 440,000 are estimated to die each year from medical malpractice  — a number that dwarfs the 30,000+ killed by guns — you should care about the subject.

Cynically named as a bill to “improve patient access to health care services” by “reducing the excessive burden the liability system,” the King slams an artificial cap on awards for pain and suffering at $250,000, among many other things.

Did the hospital negligently operate on the good leg instead of the bad one? 250K.

Did you lose the good leg? The same 250K.

Did you also lose your previously bad leg because they operated on the wrong  one? The same 250K.

And it comes as no surprise to anyone that lawyers won’t actively jump at the chance to spend hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars, on a suit that is so artificially limited. Thus, de facto immunity for most pain and suffering causes of action from medical malpractice.

How does King go all federal on this, going deep into what is most often a state cause of action? By stating that it will apply to anyone that receives health care through a “federal program, subsidy, or tax benefit.” [Copy Of Bill] That means anyone who uses Medicaid, Medicare, veterans health plans or Obamacare.

And by “tax benefit,” it may mean anyone who has a deduction for healthcare of any kind.  Essentially, the idea is to make sure that no one, anywhere in the country, can ever bring a meaningful action for medical malpractice.

The losers in this, of course, are the patients and their families who have already been injured once. And the taxpayers, who are now forced to pick up the tab for the rest of the loss.

King’s bill is based on a faulty premise, that doctors and hospitals order unnecessary tests to protect against malpractice claims. This is the “defensive medicine” theory of why medical costs go up.

But that theory was tested in Texas, and found to fail. As I noted in 2011, the $250,000 Texas cap didn’t stop medical increases. In fact, costs went up faster in Texas than in states that didn’t have a cap.

While doctors may have saved money with fewer suits, and insurance companies may have made buckets more money, it didn’t stop health care costs from rising.

The Texas Experiment also was also supposed to bring more doctors to Texas and more to rural counties. It didn’t work.  Even noted tort reformer Ted Frank wrote, in 2012, that the data from Texas “substantially undermines the empirical case for the conventional wisdom that Texas’s 2003 reforms against medical malpractice lawsuits attracted more doctors to Texas.” Ouch.

Frank went on to conclude:

I, for one, am going to stop claiming that Texas tort reform increased doctor supply without better data demonstrating that.

The real kicker to the artificial caps, of course, is that the taxpayers then get saddled with the costs of the injured person instead of the ones that negligently caused the injury. That’s right, saddling the taxpayers with the costs is a form of socialism. And it is being promoted by alleged conservatives.

The myth that tort “reform” reduces costs was debunked awhile ago. As Steven Cohen noted in Forbes two years ago regarding additional studies, there was no reduction in the expensive tests from states with caps:

That myth was dispatched by the recent publication of a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine. A team of five doctors and public health experts found that tort reform measures passed in three states – specifically designed to insulate emergency room doctors from lawsuits — did nothing to reduce the number of expensive tests and procedures those ER doctors prescribed.

Cohen went on to summarize that none of the “expected” reductions in health care costs came to fruition:

This latest study follows numerous others that deflated other tort reform myths: that making it harder for victims to file medical malpractice lawsuits would reduce the number of “frivolous” suits that “clog the courts;” that imposing caps on the damages victims could receive would reign in “out of control” juries that were awarding lottery-size sums to plaintiffs; and that malpractice insurance premiums would fall, thereby reversing a doctor shortage caused by specialists “fleeing the profession.”

Trump is now on the bandwagon also, or at least whoever wrote this portion of his speech last night:

“Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance — and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs, and bring them down immediately.”

This oblique reference — Trump never deals in details — was presumably put there by his staff, as I know of no other Trump comment on the subject of medical malpractice.

But wait, there’s more! Tort “reform,” you see, has never saved a life. But has it ever killed anyone? Answer, yes!

I addressed that subject a few year back by pointing to plunging payouts at Columbia Presbyterian Hosptial / Cornell Weill Medical Center. A study found that “instituting a comprehensive obstetric patient safety program decreased compensation payments and sentinel events resulting in immediate and significant savings.”

How much did they save by instituting new safety procedures — in pure dollars and cents leaving aside the human misery of injury? “The 2009 compensation payment total constituted a 99.1% drop from the average 2003-2006 payments (from $27,591,610 to $ 250,000).”

You read that right: 99.1% drop. Based on a safety program, not tort “reform.”

Now if Congress wants to take away the incentive for safety, and just give immunity, you can expect continued deaths. The results should have been screamed from the rooftops:

Safety improvements = fewer malpractice payments and healthier patients.

Tort reform = more patient deaths.

Now let’s return to politics, shall we? I just want to close by asking conservatives a few questions, and do so with the knowledge that medical protectionism has already been a proven failure in reducing health care costs:

1. Do you believe in limited government?

2.  Is giving immunity your idea of limited government?

3.  Do you believe in states rights? Would federal tort “reform” legislation that limits the state-run civil justice systems run contrary to that concept?

4.  Do you believe in personal responsibility?

5.  Do you want to limit the responsibility of negligent parties and shift the burden to taxpayers?

6.  If you believe in having the taxpayers pay for injuries inflicted by others, how much extra in taxes are you willing to authorize to cover those costs?

7.  Is shifting the cost of injuries away from those responsible, and on to the general public, a form of socialism?

Elsewhere:

Congress Moves To Punish Anyone Using The ACA And Medicare (Doroshow @ Huffington Post), which lists other “features” of the bill

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. In Opposition to H.R. 1215, the So-Called “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017”


Republicans Move to Grant Immunity for Medical Malpractice syndicated from http://personalinjuryattorneyphiladelph.tumblr.com/

Melania Trump’s Lawsuit and Tax Returns

The other day I ripped Melania Trump‘s lawyers for stupidly claiming — in a defamation lawsuit against those that called her an escort while she was a model — that she had lost her once-in-a-liftime opportunity to capitalize on being the most famous women in the world for the next few years.

Personally, I thought the lawyers had committed legal malpractice in having done so, as it exposed her to a (well-deserved) torrent of scorn and derision.

She has now amended the lawsuit to take out the offending material.

But you know what is left? She still claims economic loss, and that is the subject of today’s post. Because if you claim economic loss, then one thing you can bet your last dollar on is that the defendants will say, “prove it!”

And part of that proof will be her tax returns, so that competing expert economists can do an evaluation of what she was making before (and how she was doing it), and how (if at all) it was affected.

First, the nuts and bolts of the claim from the Amended Complaint:

33.  The defamatory statements in the Article have caused Plaintiff damages, including to her reputation and to her business interests and prospective economic opportunities, as well as causing significant humiliation in the community and emotional distress.

So she has not only claimed a per se injury for being called a prostitute, she alleges damage to her business interests and prospective economic opportunities.

Now tax returns, in New York, are jealously guarded by the courts.  A party seeking to compel their production must make a strong showing of overriding necessity.

Melania Trump’s case is in New York County, the First Department, but all four of New York’s appellate departments have a high bar to hurdle.

But at least some of her returns, it seems, will meet that burden. And how much of her interests are intermingled with her husband’s? Nobody knows, but any intermingling at all could subject his returns (or parts of them) to discovery.

In one of the most oft-cited cases on the subject in the First Department, the court reversed a trial court justice that had granted the disclosure of tax returns in a partnership dispute. In Gordon v. Grossman the court held that “It was an improvident exercise of discretion to compel disclosure of the defendant’s tax returns. Because of their confidential and private nature, disclosure of tax returns is disfavored.”

And in Matthews Indus. Piping Co., Inc. v. Mobil Oil Corp., the lower court denied the defendants request to peak into the plaintiff’s returns and the First Department affirmed that decision. The court wrote that “The disclosure of tax returns is disfavored due to their confidential and private nature. Consequently, a party seeking to compel their production must make a strong showing of overriding necessity.”

Similar language comes from the Second Department, where the rule is that “A party will not be required to produce income tax returns in a particular action unless the record presents a strong necessity for such disclosure in order for the party to prove its cause of action or defense.” In Active Fire Sprinkler v. American Home, that court held that there must be “some showing that the particular information in tax returns has some specific application to the case.

Now here’s the kicker: Few people will want to donate money for any kind of legal defense fund, if one is needed. Because who wants to get in bed with the kind of d-bag that would write crap like that without evidence? (I have no idea if there is insurance coverage for this.)

But remember Peter Thiel funding the Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) sex tape lawsuit against Gawker?

Might there be some people willing to pony up money to see this matter go through discovery just to get to those tax returns?

Even if the returns are subject to a confidentiality agreement, all bets are off in a trial that takes place in open court.

Conclusion: Melania Trump has exposed herself, and potentially her husband, to having her tax returns revealed in discovery.

The only way out of this for her to drop her claim of economic loss entirely.

 

 


Melania Trump’s Lawsuit and Tax Returns syndicated from http://personalinjuryattorneyphiladelph.tumblr.com/

Saving TechDirt

As regular readers know, I’ve twice been sued for defamation over my reporting and opinions from this blog.

When Joseph Rakofsky sued me (and so many others) for reporting on ornis dreadful attempt to defend a murder case in his first ever trial, TechDirt was there to shout in our defense.

When Dr. Michael Katz sued me for reporting that a Queens judge repeatedly called him a liar in open court, TechDirt was once again there to scream from the rooftops.

Now it’s my turn to holler for TechDirt, as it’s very survival may hinge upon raising funds needed to defend itself from a defamation claim.

TechDirt, which gets 1.5M visitors a month, does original reporting and commentary about changes in government policy, technology and legal issues.

The blog is well written, well-researched, with just the right amount of snark to make reading that’s both enjoyable and informed even if the subject isn’t one you’d normally read.

So they’ve have been sued. For writing about who “invented” email.

Shiva Ayyadurai claims he invented email. And he didn’t seem to appreciate TechDirt’s Mike Masnick of calling him a fraud for making that claim.

As per a Fortune article on the suit:

Ayyadurai claims that a series of posts on TechDirt amount to libel—in part because the posts call Ayyadurai a “fake email inventor” and a “fraudster” and calls his claims to have invented the technology “bogus.”

Apparently, Ayyadurai created a program that he entitled “EMAIL” around 1978 or 1979. But, according to TechDirt, he merely creating code for one program, and that:

 “does not, in any way, establish him as “the creator” of “the” electronic mail system — merely an electronic mail system — and hardly the first one. I could write some sort of email management software tomorrow and copyright that… and it would no more make me an “inventor” of email than Ayyadurai.

TechDirt’s site references NetHistory for the story of how email was actually created. There is no mention of Ayyadurai, as the foundation had apparently already been laid before Ayyadurai created his program.

Email is much older than ARPANet or the Internet. It was never invented; it evolved from very simple beginnings.

Indeed, the core element of email, the idea by Ray Tomlinson to use the @ symbol, was described merely as a “nice hack” when it was first used in 1972, years before Ayyadurai named his program:

We needed to be able to put a message in an envelope and address it. To do this, we needed a means to indicate to whom letters should go that the electronic posties understood – just like the postal system, we needed a way to indicate an address.

This is why Ray Tomlinson is credited with inventing email in 1972. Like many of the Internet inventors, Tomlinson worked for Bolt Beranek and Newman as an ARPANET contractor. He picked the @ symbol from the computer keyboard to denote sending messages from one computer to another. So then, for anyone using Internet standards, it was simply a matter of nominating name-of-the-user@name-of-the-computer. Internet pioneer Jon Postel, who we will hear more of later, was one of the first users of the new system, and is credited with describing it as a “nice hack”. It certainly was, and it has lasted to this day.

At one point in 2014, the Huffington Post wrote a multi-part story about Ayyadurai  being the inventor of email. While there’s no doubt that Ayyadurai did create an email system, and did obtain a copyright for his particular code, that didn’t make him the inventor of email as you know it. So says TechDirt in its analysis of the article, concluding that the Post store ignored the fundamental difference between a copyright on the particular code and a patent on the concept:

Copyright was not, and has never been “the equivalent of a patent.” Copyright and patents are two very different things. Copyright protects specific expression. Patents protect inventions. That’s why copyright protected only the specific code that Ayyadurai wrote, rather than the concept of email.

Techdirt acknowledges that Ayyadurai came up with some cool improvements, such as using the shortened word email in place of electronic mail, and making the full address book part of the email system. But that simply  comes under the classification of standing on the shoulders of those that came before you:

Ayyadurai has built up his entire reputation around the (entirely false) claim that he “invented” email. His bio, his Twitter feed and his website all position himself as having invented email. He didn’t. It looks like he wrote an implementation of an email system in 1978, long after others were working on similar things. He may have added some nice features … appears to have potentially been ahead of others in making a full address book be a part of the email system. He may, in fact, be the first person who shortened “electronic mail” to “email” which is cool enough, and he’d have an interesting claim if that’s all he claimed. Unfortunately, he’s claiming much, much more than that. He’s set up an entire website in which he accuses lots of folks, including Techdirt, of unfairly “attacking” him. He apparently believes that some of the attacks on him are because he spoke out against corruption in India. Or because people think only rich white people can invent stuff. None of that is accurate. There’s a simple fact, and it’s that Ayyadurai did not invent email.

TechDirt deserves a vigorous defense. If it doesn’t get that defense, it may go out of business. That is not just bad for the company, it is bad for anyone that believes in free expression.

An important note: Ayyadurai’s counsel is Charles Harder, of California. He’s the one, with bankrolling by Peter Thiel, that brought down Gawker regarding the publication of the Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) sex tape. Before the First Amendment issues could be challenged in an appellate court, the $140M verdict sent the company spiraling into bankruptcy.

But don’t think for a second that Harder is infallible. Because he’s also behind the Melania Trump lawsuit where she sued because she was called an escort. And, as I posted recently, I think he screwed the pooch by revealing that Melania wanted to use her new-found high profile to make millions. The negative press was devastating. And I blame the lawyers for that.

The suit is important, very important. Because, while it was easy to laugh at Gawker going down the tubes due to its reprehensible conduct, there were significant First Amendment issues regarding the publication of something that was true, and that Bollea had also made his sex life fodder for discussion.

As Scott Greenfield notes:

There’s no sex tape of Ayyadurai. There’s no ickiness pigeonhole to shove this into. It’s clearly a matter of public interest and concern. And Techdirt isn’t Gawker. At the time, the constitutional “scholars” argued that none of this would happen, there would be no chilling effect. It was just about Gawker, because Gawker, and sex videos because privacy. Nothing to see here, move along.

But Harder figured something out that you didn’t. Or you didn’t want to. He figured out that if you bring a suit, bring it in the right jurisdiction, try to get some home field advantage, a defendant might get Gawkered into submission. In this case, suit was brought in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. That’s where Ayyadurai happens to be. Mike? He’s in California, far, far away.

Thus far, TechDirt has imposed the defense of “In pilleum caca.”(Go shit in a hat.) But it costs money to do that against the very well-funded Harder.

You can donate to the Techdirt Survival Fund here. Please give a few dollars if you appreciate the right to speak freely.

As I know all too well from personal experience, free speech isn’t free. It needs to be defended.

Elsewhere:

What a strange allegation, in alleged-inventor-of-e-mail vs. Techdirt lawsuit (Volokh at Washington Post):

No — a copyright registration for a program named “email” is not the U.S. government recognizing Ayyadurai “as the inventor of email.” No-one at the Copyright Office determines whether a program (or any other work) is a new invention. (Patent examiners may do that, but the Copyright Office doesn’t.) Indeed, no-one at the Copyright Office runs the program, reads the source code, or tries to compare the program’s description to those of other programs.

We Stand With TechDirt and So Should You (Carr at Pando):

Certainly the philosophical connection between Thiel’s attempt to kill Gawker and Ayyadurai’s attempt to silence TechDirt couldn’t be clearer: Both involve wealthy tech moguls using their cash (and Charles Harder) to shut down critical reporting, with the handy side effect that other media outlets are frightened into silence. At the very least, Thiel’s crusade against Gawker has emboldened plaintiffs like Ayyadurai to try to outspend the First Amendment.

But, of course, it barely matters whether TechDirt would win or lose in court — the cost of defending a $15m suit could easily be enough to bankrupt the site before a judge gets a chance to rule.

EFF is Proud to Stand Beside Techdirt in its “First Amendment Fight for its Life.” (Greene @ Electronic Frontier Foundation):

Techdirt is a vital resource – it provides a wide audience with independent journalism addressing some of the biggest technology issues of our time. The Internet community wouldn’t be the same without it. But of course this case is not just about Techdirt. It’s about freedom of the press generally.

 


Saving TechDirt syndicated from http://personalinjuryattorneyphiladelph.tumblr.com/

Trials, Trump and Betrayal

The feeling of betrayal is, perhaps one of the most powerful of emotions. It comes up in law all the time, and now it comes up in politics with the Flynn-Russia scandal and Trump’s demonstration that making America great is not exactly his first priority.

Before getting to the significance in politics, a quickie look at how often it comes up in the law, always starting with the premise that two people trusted each other. Without trust, of course, there can be no betrayal.

Betrayal appears with regularity in matrimonial actions, in contract disputes between business partners, and in criminal law with snitches.

Betrayal, in the form of treason, is the only crime defined in our Constitution. Yeah, it’s that strong, since it goes to our own sense of morality.

From my practice area, betrayal probably forms the single most common reason that patients contact lawyers about potential medical malpractice actions. People entrust their lives and health to others, and those others don’t do what was expected of them.

That betrayal forms the basis of an anger that results in the phone being picked up to see how, if at all, someone can get their pound of flesh. And it’s the reason  some doctors are counseled to say “I’m sorry” rather than covering up errors.

And because of this very human emotion, it comes up in literature with great frequency.

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.  — William Cosgrove

Betrayal is the only truth that sticks. — William Miller
Though those that are betrayed Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor Stands in worse case of woe — William Shakespeare

And more, from John Lennon’s son Sean, since it cuts to the heart of what makes for a good story:

There are only really a few stories to tell in the end, and betrayal and the failure of love is one of those good stories to tell.

Since betrayal cuts to the soul, it’s a common theme among trial lawyers that, if used properly, can captivate an audience. It’s a story every judge and juror can relate to. If, at trial, it’s possible to show that one person betrayed the trust of another, you can be 100% certain that a competent trial lawyer will use that theme.

So now we turn to politics and Donald Trump, and bring those trial tactics to a different arena.

It is a given that those who despise Trump will never, ever be disappointed in him. Such people are incapable of being betrayed.

But what of those that believed in him? What of those that bought his hats and shouted his name? Are these not the only ones who can be disappointed, the only ones who can be betrayed?

As the weeks roll on, look to see this concept of betrayal used over and again in the political arena, with the Flynn-Russia scandal, and likely elsewhere. It is one thing for a voter to excuse the conduct of a politician by simply ignoring the boastfulness and hyperbole, but it is altogether different when the hyperbole is supported by conspiring with a foreign power.

Look in the future for Trump opponents, be they Democrat or Republican, to pick up this theme, by going directly to Trump’s base of support.

Hell may have no greater fury than a Trump supporter scorned.


Trials, Trump and Betrayal syndicated from http://personalinjuryattorneyphiladelph.tumblr.com/

Class Action Action, Here We Come…

Alison Frankel

We may be in for some serious action on the class action front, due to two big items:

First, legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Bob Goodlatte that would eviscerate class action law suits. Those suits, started under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 allow numerous people with small claims to group together to bring suit. Because one can’t realistically hire counsel to sue for getting screwed on a defective $10 widget, but if 1,000,000 people get screwed, justice has a good shot at being served.

Or, perhaps, if someone wants to create a phony university about selling real estate with phony promises, the class action is the way that the group can come together for justice against a grifter.

Make no mistake about it, the class action suit is a major factor in empowering the little guy to keep Big Business honest in consumer dealings, and I’m a big fan of them when used right.

As Alison Frankel points out in a Reuters column, however, those class actions are now under a new assault. With Republicans now controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, there is the potential for the courthouse doors to get slammed shut in the faces of consumers.

Since Frankel has already done a great job writing the story up, no need for me to do it again. Read it here.

Next up on the class action front is a potential showdown in the United States Supreme Court on how legal fees are calculated when class actions settle.

Prof. Josh Blackman

In Blackman v. Gascho, the court will face this issue regarding the computation of legal fees: Should a trial court look to the full value of the settlement, as if every person redeems a coupon that may be offered? Or should it be based on how many people actually redeem those coupons (if coupons are used). In other words, on a claims-made basis.

Regular readers know I have been down this path before having been screwed on a class action once. I then proceeded to hire Ted Frank to represent me as an objector, despite him being a tort “reformer.” As Scott Greenfield once pointed out, Frank had now become a plaintiff’s lawyer of sorts, by standing between members of the class and lawyers that he felt (in certain cases) had over-reached on the legal fee.

The issue arose when law professor Josh Blackman — who has been producing constitutional commentary regarding the Trump administration on his blog, twitter and cable shows like a fire hose going full blast — was a class member regarding a gym contract. The gym was sued and the matter settled.

But rather than simply mailing checks to the class members on a pro rata basis, postcards and emails were sent with directions on how to redeem the funds. This, Blackman argues, was designed to lower the actual payout to class members with a low response rate, and thereby give a disproportionate share of the recovery to the lawyers.

While the gym argued that the entire class settlement was $15.5M, thus justifying a $2.39M award of costs and fees, Blackman and Frank contend that they anticipate less than 10% response, and that therefore the funds were paid disproportionately to lawyers instead of class members.

The case is set to be conferenced by the Supreme Court this coming Friday, February 17th, to decide if cert should be granted.

If cert is granted, and the Goodlatte bill moves forward, expect class action discussions to come to the forefront of legal discussion.

 

 


Class Action Action, Here We Come… syndicated from http://personalinjuryattorneyphiladelph.tumblr.com/

Melania Trump’s Lawyers Screws The Pooch

Before getting into the latest Trump lawsuit — this one by Melania Trump for defamation, filed in my local courthouse — I want to get one thing out of the way. I think that the families of politicians are off–limits for commentary and ridicule except in limited circumstances.

One of those circumstances is an active engagement in politics. Thus, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton were both fair game, but First Ladies Barbara and Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama were not.

Children are likewise off-limits, unless engaged in politics. Thus, Eric Trump, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka are all fair game, while Tiffany and Baron are not.

This is the reason that Rush Limbaugh and John McCain were both mercilessly skewered for picking on the child of a president. It is vulgar and completely beyond all sense of decency. While they had the constitutional right to conduct themselves that way, others had the right to flay them for having done it.

But yesterday Melania lost that protection with her claims in a defamation case. The nuts and bolts of the claim is that some blogger claimed she was an escort while also being a model, and she says that was false and defamatory. She sued the blogger and a website, Mail Online.

So far, no problem from me. If the claims are utterly false, have at it.

But her lawyers threw her under the bus with claims that she lost “multimillion dollar business relationships” during the years in which she would be “one of the most photographed women in the world.”

What the hell?  She’s complaining about not being able to use the White House for profit?

She, and the family, were ripped by the New York Times (and many others) yesterday in an editorial:

But any veneer of plausible deniability about the Trump family’s greed and their transactional view of the most powerful job in the world was shattered this week by a defamation lawsuit the first lady, Melania Trump, filed….

There is no benign way to look at that claim. Mrs. Trump evidently believes her new title affords her a chance to rake in millions of dollars.

Here’s the kicker: It is wholly unnecessary to make such comments when filing a complaint in New York.  A general claim of losses will suffice. The details will come later in a document called a bill of particulars, and even there, such hyperbolic language is not needed.

If the objective was to garner press with the suit, well they succeeded. Beyond, perhaps, their wildest nightmares. They have placed their client’s name on an exceptionally damaging document describing her desire for White House profiteering.

The lawyers also did something else very Trumpian: They made outrageous demands for damages, of $300,000,000. Yup, you read that right.

And, as regular readers of this blog know, you aren’t even allowed to make monetary demands in a complaint in personal injury suits in New York.  It is specifically outlawed, and is sanctionable. (And yes, defamation is a type of personal injury suit.)

The geniuses who did this to Melania?

The one pulling the strings is Charles Harder from Beverly Hills, who has experience in high-profile defamation cases. And he should have known better than to impugn his own client.

On the New York side as local counsel is Mark Rosenberg of Tarter Krinsky & Drogin.  According to his bio, these are his practice areas:

  • China Desk
  • Hospitality and Restaurant Services
  • Intellectual Property
  • Retail

Seriously? They couldn’t find local counsel who knew how to craft a simple defamation complaint in state court (which does not require the level of detail that federal court does), without negligently killing their own client in the process?

The job of local counsel is to make sure that the out-of-state-guy doesn’t screw the pooch on rules of procedure. And here, the rules of procedure were clear: It was unnecessary (and damaging) to have Melania confess her true motives of using the White House for profit, and unnecessary to potentially subject her to sanctions for an impermissible ad damnum clause.

The Trump v. Mail Media filing is here.


Melania Trump’s Lawyers Screws The Pooch syndicated from http://personalinjuryattorneyphiladelph.tumblr.com/

Helicopter Crash in Galveston Causes Single Fatality

Last night around 7:15 pm, a helicopter was traveling to shore from an
offshore cargo ship in West Galveston Bay. The aircraft was carrying two
passengers and the pilot. At that time, the helicopter made an “unscheduled
landing in the water,” according to a statement from Republic Helicopters—the
owners of the crashed helicopter. Republic Helicopters, a company from
Santa Fe, provides ferry rides to shore for the crew of offshore vessels.

The crash occurred a mile away from shore, so a boat crew was sent out
to rescue them. The boat found the pilot and one of the passengers—but
the second passenger was confirmed dead. The two survivors, as well as
the crash victim, were all sent to UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch).

We do not know what caused the crash, but an investigation should be underway
soon—if it isn’t already. At this time, we don’t know
if the passenger who was killed was an employee of the cargo ship or Republic’s.
Likely, very little information regarding the passengers will be released
until their families can be notified.

At Arnold & Itkin, our thoughts and prayers go out to the crew and
their families.

Helicopter Crash in Galveston Causes Single Fatality syndicated from http://personalinjuryattorneyphiladelph.tumblr.com/

Long-Term Disability Risk Increases After Seniors Visit ER

working seniorAccording to a new study, older adults who are treated in an ER for an injury or illness are more likely to become less agile and more disabled over the next six months. The study, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, was a follow up on research that found seniors suffer from reduced physical agility and disability after hospitalization.

During the study, researchers tracked more than 750 patients aged 65 and older over 14 years, including some adults who were treated in an ER and some who were not.

Researchers discovered that seniors who were discharged from an emergency room were more likely to be living in a nursing facility, become disabled, or die over the next six months compared to seniors who were not treated in an ER.

The extra cost for medical care and long-term care for newly disabled older adults is estimated at $26 billion per year. One strategy to potentially address the issue may include employing geriatric advanced practice nurses to assess older patients’ risk for decline.

Last year, a separate study found that more seniors are working now than any time since the turn of the century and today’s senior workers spend more time on their jobs than their peers. Almost 9 million people, or 19% of seniors in America, were employed part- or full-time. The number of older men and women who are in the job market has grown over time, although working during what many consider the retirement years still largely affects men.

The post Long-Term Disability Risk Increases After Seniors Visit ER appeared first on Philadelphia Disability Insurance Lawyer.

Long-Term Disability Risk Increases After Seniors Visit ER syndicated from http://personalinjuryattorneyphiladelph.tumblr.com/