Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Huzzah for Judge Janis Jack !

From the National Association of Manufacturers' "Legally Insane" archives:

When Federal District Court Judge Janis Jack blew the lid on potential fraud in litigation over silicosis (a lung disease caused by overexposure to silica - the primary component of sand and other minerals) in a June 30 ruling, prominent plaintiffs' law firms and "medical" screening companies were not laughing. [...]

Perhaps because she used to be a nurse, Judge Jack did not simply rubber stamp the claims as other judges before her have done. Instead, her medical training caused her to have concerns about the extent of the problems alleged.
Judge Jack's own words best express the legal insanity of what was before her:

". . . given the sheer volume of claims - each supported by a silicosis diagnosis by a physician - one would expect [public health agencies] to be involved...In short, this appears to be a phantom epidemic, unnoticed by everyone other than those enmeshed in the legal system...."

"Despite diagnosing a serious and completely preventable disease at unprecedented rates, not a single doctor even bothered to lift a telephone and notify any governmental agency, union, employer, hospital or even media outlet, all of whom conceivably could have taken steps to ensure recognition of currently undiagnosed silicosis cases and to prevent future cases from developing."

"...[I]t is apparent that truth and justice had very little to do with these diagnoses - otherwise more effort would have been devoted to ensuring they were accurate. Instead, these diagnoses were driven by neither health nor justice: they were manufactured for money."

At one point, Judge Jack mused aloud that if she had the power she would sentence all of the lawyers involved to using only the doctors hired in this litigation for their medical needs. She was also gutsy enough to use the word "fraud" during proceedings and a federal grand jury is investigating these charges. [All emph. add.]


A jury in New Jersey awarded $850,000 to a man who got drunk on New Year's Eve and passed out in a snow bank. Who is he suing?
The police, of course.

It seems two local police departments responded in the early morning hours to search for the drunken man, but could not spot him.When daylight came, a passerby saw the man, who was quickly revived and rushed to a hospital by the police. Officers declined to press charges, thinking the drunk had learned from his mistake.
Instead, the man sued both police departments, claiming that frostbite damage to his right hand was their fault for not conducting a more thorough search.

The next case involves an 84-year-old Milwaukee man who was paralyzed in a car accident. Who to blame?
The Roman Catholic Church, of course.

At the time of the accident, the elderly driver was volunteering for a Catholic lay organization, delivering a statue of the Virgin Mary to an invalid. Trial lawyers persuaded the jury that the church should be at fault for the accident and awarded an immaculate $17 million to the man.

Hopefully, these awards were reduced or overturned on appeal.

In the last case, the Catholic Church might have had a responsibility to provide some type of insurance coverage for volunteers, but even if so, the policy wouldn't have paid more than ONE million, and that's all that the diocese should be on the hook for - if anything.

In the frostbite case, there's a pretty large body of precedence that establishes that emergency services, and the police in particular, only have to do their best, and aren't usually responsible for negative outcomes.

In California, the Reginald Denny case established that the LAPD has NO legal duty to protect anyone.
Apparently, at least in Cali, police forces are only required to do policing-type activities if they feel like it.


Blogger Hey Skipper said...


The case against tort reform would be?

November 16, 2005 9:12 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Well, some people feel that limiting a person's right to sue is also an assault on their liberty, which is correct.

However, with liberty comes responsibility, and if enough people abandon restraint and abuse the court system, then modifications and limits must be made and set.

The current tort reform solution, of not restricting access, but of capping awards, seems right to me.

November 16, 2005 8:21 PM  

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