Justinian Lane

Tort Reform Hypocrite – Florida AG Bill McCollum

An attorney in Florida is calling out the Florida Attorney General for supporting tort “reform” but now turning to the civil justice system for political gain:

I graduated from law school and moved to Florida in 1987. So my entire legal career has chronologically coincided with the Florida tort reform movement, a multi-million dollar effort, funded by large corporations, to convince the public that the unholy alliance of trial lawyers, with their “frivolous lawsuits,” and activist judges, who override the legislative will of the people, are the root of all evil in this world. Diatribe that is simply not the truth and is not supported by statistics, evidence, or facts.

Source: Is Florida's Attorney General Putting Politics Before the People? | InjuryBoard West Palm Beach

In some people’s eyes, the only lawsuits that aren’t frivolous are the ones they file themselves.  I have to agree that McCollum’s lawsuit has more to do with political gain that defending the Constitution; most Constitutional scholars believe that regardless of whether the health care bill is good public policy it is in fact Constitutional.  For more on that topic, check out the American Constitution Society’s Issue Brief: Mandatory Health Insurance – Is It Constitutional?

Finally, I would point out that the Florida taxpayers are forced to pay for the prosecution of McCollum’s lawsuit, while every other taxpayer is forced to pay the costs of defending it. 

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Posted at 6:02 PM, Apr 09, 2010 in Health Care | Hypocrites of Tort "Reform"
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The height of the hypocrisy. Yes they only want the courts for themselves. I remember Kay Bailey Hutchinson's amendment to attack the bill as unconstitutional after voting for days and days of tort deform amendments. They really don't care about any of it.

Posted by: Mike Bryant | April 9, 2010 10:05 PM

I'm sorry but no attorney on any of the various "Injury Board" blogs is anything more than an ambulance-chaser. I've personally dealt with some of the Florida ones and would not recommend any of them to a family member who needed a trial lawyer. You need to quote someone with more credibility, and yes there are a few (if not many) trial lawyers who do have some credibility

I too am a little uneasy with McCollum's action (although the litigation is anything but frivilous), but I think the Health Care Deform act is a huge boondoggle with the projected savings being about as real as unicorns , dragons and honest plaintiff attorneys. I would prefer to use the ballot box to get rid of it, and at the first possible opportunity

Posted by: Avenger | April 11, 2010 12:57 AM

Of course you don't like the attorneys on InjuryBoard - they do personal injury work. Shall I assume you're a Florida insurance defense lawyer?

Posted by: Justinian Lane | April 11, 2010 10:58 AM

No - I am a Florida taxpayer, a registered voter, have served on six juries (two civil) and know when the system is being gamed and by whom

Posted by: Avenger | April 11, 2010 8:19 PM

I've been a registered voter since I was 18 (I'm in my early 30's now) and have never even been CALLED for jury duty, let alone served. And now that I've gone to law school, if I ever am called, there's practically no way I'll be chosen. Isn't it ironic that the people who would most love to serve on a jury will always be struck?

If you'd ever care to share your stories about your experiences as a juror, I'd be happy to post them for you.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | April 11, 2010 9:15 PM

I don't really believe that the specifics of jury deliberations should be made public - I will say that the last jury I was on was six years ago on a criminal case involving two black defendants in a largely black neighborhood. Despite over twenty witnesses to the act (a fight which turned ugly with a knife being pulled and a very minor knife would being inflected) the local constables conducted almost no investigation into the matter taking only one witness statement (from an individual who was rather distant from the fight scene), etc. The person who pulled the knife was charged with assault with a deadly weapon (he claimed self-defense and the person he was fighting was much larger). I later found out that both individuals had prior arrests and convictions

We had a hung jury - the dynamic of the jury at work was interesting. We had four women and three men on the jury - two white women, two black women and three white men. Initially , the four women voted guilty. Two of the men (myself and another man) voted not guilty on the grounds of reasonable doubt based on the prosecution NOT proving its case - we both felt that the accused was probably guilty. The third male voted innocent swallowing the self-defense claim hook, line and sinker - he could not get past the size differential between the two combatants (he was a small man himself).

We deliberated for about seven hours spread over two days - at some point one of the two black women moved over to the "not guilty side" based on the lack of proof presented by the prosecution, so we would up with a final tally of three guity votes and four not guilty and a hung jury

I was working as a claim adjuster at the time I served on the two bodily injury civil juries (fifteen and twelve years ago). Generally plaintiff lawyers want claim adjusters on juries even less than they want lawyers so I probably received more questions during the voir dire process than the rest of the jury panel combined and was rather surprised to find myself selected on both occasions. One case was fairly simple and straight-forward, the other was rather complicated and the trial took four days. Both involved degrees of comparative negligence (the more complicated case had three defendants and an empty chair that had settled out previously, but to whom a jury could (and did) apportion fault. For whatever reason, the plaintiffs settled out the party the jury felt had about 70% of the fault in the matter.

Florida is a pure comparative fault jurisdiction - at the time using a complicated form of joint and several liability. Since the jury apportioned more fault to the plaintiff than to any of the remaining individual defendants, joint and several would not have come into play against them. We awarded damages of $925K ($647,500 against the empty chair) with the plaintiff found 15% at fault (I thought the plaintiff's share was about 10%). If the plaintiff settled out for much less than $647,500 (information never made known to me) then they got screwed by their decision.

Posted by: Avenger | April 12, 2010 6:21 AM

The arbitration clause inserted in the admission paket of nursing homes, gives the homes the right to do anything they want to victims of abuse. This just does make sense. I put my Mother in a nursing home, she fell at least ten times. Nothing was done for her to keep her safe. If judges want to look at the arbitration clause as a contract, the homes part of the contract is to keeop patients safe, fed and hydrated. They don't but they get a pass no matter what level of abuse.

Posted by: Brenda | June 17, 2010 2:33 PM

Of course he doesn't care about what he spends and who it may affect. Just as the rest of the politicians in our great Flrida Legislature did not care about their constituents when they changed the medical malpractice statutes. They "advertised" caps on awards but did not advertise the addition of "only the spouse or dependent child may initiate medical malpractice/negligence lawsuit" in the last line of the statutes. And you just thought you - an adult parent or adult child - had rights in Florida - hah!
I know this because my mother died in my arms shortly after the physician admitted he may have made a little error - in a jovial manner - in not diagnosing stage 4 cancer. Eighteen months of "pills and more pills" for a little stubborn infection ....
You would not believe the number of patients, especially medicare patients that are packed in like cows awaiting slaughter in these doctor offices. They pleaded to the Legislature they were losing money. Liars. Charges for things they never did to my mom was the icing on the cake!
Now I am left with a lot of aggravation and a very broken heart.

Posted by: msgoodwench | July 16, 2010 12:04 PM

If this Florida AG would read my testimony to the ocngressional hearing he would understand the effects of arbitration. ALso he would understand why there are so many foreclosures in FL. He could also learn a lot from Shaun Flantery Represenatuve form Maine who recently passed a fariness arbitration act in his state. Or go to the AG in Minnasota she can explain the arbitration unfairness she uncovered. I hope he will just go to
Untill you have been forced into arbitation and recieved a ruling of fraud and a worthless judgement you are not expert. Experts have the experience and we have been though 10 hearings and arbitration twice, forced, manditory arbitration. You no longer have seventh amendment rights. These are contracts of adhesion.( Stature Construction Company, President Thomas Thibodeau and Co-conspirator Jorge Casimior)
Jordan Fogal

Posted by: Jordan Fogal | December 11, 2010 10:44 PM

Also, we recieved a judgement of fraud against these men.The judgement, from the arbitrator was only against the company they had informed her had no funds. So we have been awarded a worthless piece of paper. We bought our home in 2002. It has been an exhausting effort. I hope profited from our loss besides these substandard, defective builders. Texas were the builder is always right...or gets away with it if he isn't.

Posted by: Jordan Fogal | December 11, 2010 10:54 PM