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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

“I Have A Dream”

51 comments

Hedline Image Source: Alves family on flickr

This day marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the civil rights march on Washington that forever changed America.  The speech challenged the status quo; it demanded that all people, regardless of race, creed, color, religion or ethnic origin be treated equally.  Dr. King’s speech didn’t say so, but he was talking about economic equality, as well.  50 years later, as an African American President of the United States takes the podium in the same spot where Dr. King delivered his epic speech, much has been accomplished.  Sadly, however, there is still much to be done.

I have represented and/or championed the rights of the injured and disabled for all of my professional life.  In the “good old days” (20-30 years ago), I could do so in a system that was more fair and balanced than it is today.  America is a country with three important branches of government, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  It is a country with a Constitution that seeks to promote liberty and justice for all.  To do so effectively, the three powers, according to the Constitution, must be separate and act independently of each other.  In other words, the Constitution mandates that government responsibility be divided into these three distinct branches and limits any one branch from engaging in the core functions of another.  The intent, obviously, is to prevent a concentration of power to any one branch and to provide for a system of checks and balances.  This separation of powers has served us well and has lasted well into the late 20th Century.

Unfortunately, beginning in the late 20th Century, the legislative branch began to decide that the judicial branch needs its assistance.  Legislators (predominantly Republican, their campaigns heavily bankrolled by corporate interests) began to assert “corporate rights” over “individual rights”.  This has taken many forms.  Corporations were given tax breaks that individuals don’t receive.  Corporations were excused from misconduct by poorly conceived legislation.  Polluters, for instance, go unpunished.  Crimes (like mortgage fraud) are committed by corporations, yet CEO’s go un-punished.  These corporate types almost brought down our entire financial system but not a single CEO was prosecuted.  And insurance companies, making billions and billions in profit, cry “lawsuit abuse”, line the pockets of legislators, and get “tort reform” in return.

What is “tort reform”, you ask?  It is the legislative insertion of restrictions on litigation that prevents a judge or jury from being solely responsible for addressing the harm caused by one citizen against another or a corporation against a citizen.  It is cleverly disguised by those who proffer it.  Using terms like “frivolous lawsuit”, “run away juries”, “lawsuit abuse” or “jackpot justice”, these corporately financed “tort reformers” seek to limit the amounts of money a citizen can receive in damages from a judge or jury.

These “tort reformers” suggest that the system is swimming in a sea of “frivolous lawsuits” and needs, therefore, to cap the damages that citizens can recover.  This is your prototypical red herring.  “Frivolous” is defined as something that has “no serious purpose or value” which, of course, prompts this question:  Why would something that is frivolous, having no serious value, require a cap on damages?  The answer is, of course, that it does not.  Tort reformers simply seek to take further advantage of the powerless.

But, paying small sums of money on smaller cases and large sums of money on large, serious, ones is not good enough for the corporate bottom line.  Doing what a responsible corporate citizen should do (taking responsibility for one’s actions and fairly compensating those who one causes serious harm to) isn’t good for business.  And, these days, if it isn’t good for business, it isn’t acceptable to conservative politicians.  Who cares how the family of a deceased or paralyzed victim will support itself?  Business is king in America.  Conservative politicians pass tort reform and limit a person’s ability to support his/her family.  At the same time, these same politicians seek to limit public assistance (entitlements) and overturn Obama Care.  If laws prevent full compensation from the person or corporation responsible for the harm and additional laws prevent the receipt of benefits from the government, how are the victim and his family supposed to support themselves?  The system creates another endless cycle of poverty, an economic inequality based upon disability.  This doesn’t apply only to victims; it applies to all of us, because these seriously injured or disabled victims become a drain on our economic system.  It also runs contrary to our Judeo-Christian values, doesn’t it?  This is exactly the kind of inequality that Dr. King railed against 50 years ago today.

I have a dream today.  I dream that all injured citizens will have unfettered access to a civil justice system that is apolitical.  I dream that judges and juries are solely responsible, after a complete airing of facts and laws, for providing compensation to seriously injured victims.  I dream that citizens who seek redress in the courts will no longer have to have justice determined by the political affiliations of the judges in charge.  I dream that judges are elected or appointed by citizens, not politicians.  I dream that all courts determine that all legislative attempts to restrict damages in civil cases are unconstitutional under the 7th Amendment of the Constitution.  I dream that all injury victims will be judged by the severity of their injuries and the defendant’s behavior, not by political sway.  I dream that justice shall be equal, regardless of whether you reside in a “blue” state or a “red” state or whether you live in the north, south east or west.  I have a dream today, and only when all citizens rise up against injustice, any kind of injustice, will it ever come true.

Mark Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

51 Comments

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  1. jc says:
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    I have a dream too! I have a dream that doctors will be allowed to countersue plaintiff attorneys who file frivolous lawsuits! I have a dream that doctors be given the right to seek delay damages from plaintiff attorneys who needlessly delay malpractice legal proceedings. I have a dream that only well qualified medical malpractice attorneys with post graduate training be allowed to file medical malpractice suits, instead of allowing any bum lawyer who passed the bar to file these suits. I have a dream that someday, specialized medical courts will hear these medical malpractice cases within 6 months, so that both the doctor and plaintiff no longer have to wait years for the civil courts to make simple decisions. I have a dream that plaintiff attorney contingency fees and court costs will be capped at 35% so that the suffering patient will get the majority
    Of any award, instead of the bulk of the award (56%) going to the greedy plaintiff’s attorney. I have a dream that “pain & suffering” damages, which are currently capped in 30 states, will be capped in all states, protecting both insurance rates, and doctors assets against run away ridiculous jury verdicts. I have a dream that state legislators will pass laws preventing “loss of a chance” as a theory in malpractice law (this theory was concocted by state Supreme Courts to screw doctors). I have a dream . . . . . .

  2. jc says:
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    So lets talk about frivolous lawsuits, specifically medical malpractice lawsuits. Brenda Scheckelhoff came into a local E.R. With severe headaches. She was admitted to the hospital, seen by a neurologist, neurosurgeon, and the appropriate imaging was read by a neuroradiologist. Everything came back negative, so she was sent to University of Michigan where she had a brain biopsy and died a week later. Rumor has it she died of vasculitis, a difficult condition to treat. Yet her family sued. When they could not find an expert to back up their allegations, the suit was dropped. This is the classic case of a frivolous medical malpractice suit filed by a bozo inexperienced plaintiff attorney. For the rest of their careers, the neurologist, neurosurgeon, and neuroradiologist will have to self report this case whenever they apply for a state license, or medical malpractice insurance or for medical staff privileges! We could clean this abuse up by allowing docs to countersue plaintiff attorneys, holding them accountable for their actions.

  3. jessical says:
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    JC: Where does this tirade come from? Mr. Bello’s post suggests that there should be no restrictions on the right to collect damages when an injured person wins his or her case. Tort reform almost always places caps on the damages sought in SERIOUS cases. Your response addresses a completely different issue, those cases that don’t succeed or should not have been filed. That subject is COMPLETELY off topic. So, I ask you this question: If a doctor, you, for instance, makes a serious mistake on the operating table and maims or kills someone, should that doctor be held fully accountable for his mistake or should the legislature cap the recovery of the victim? Malpractice is only one area where tort reform has limited access to citizen justice. And legislating tort reform is only one method in many in which conservative organizations and fund raisers seek to limit victim recoveries and/or prevent rights to recoveries. The system already provides sanctions against lawyers and clients who bring lawsuits that get summarily dismissed. But the point of THIS post is that it is wrong to limit the recoveries or prevent recoveries against those who are PROVEN to be wrong in court. Your anger and personal experiences clearly cloud your judgment

  4. Christy says:
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    Dr. Cox,

    I think you missed the point of Mr. Bello’s post, but if memory serves me correctly that is something you do often. Nowhere does Mr. Bello mention supporting frivolous lawsuits; no where does he mention that doctors, or anyone else for that matter, can’t countersue. If you would reread the post, you will see that he is talking about limiting access to the courts for innocent victims. Tort reform has nothing to do with frivolous cases, but it has everything to do with stripping away the rights of those seriously injured due to the negligence of others.

    Dr. Cox, there will always be frivolous lawsuits, but our justice system has mechanisms in place to take care of them. Where are the mechanisms to take care of innocent victims? Tort reform takes them away; tort reform makes the taxpayers pay.

    I have a dream that the American people will wake up before it is too late and realize the tort reform is not a good thing for anyone but big business. I have a dream that you will really read posts like Mr. Bello’s before you start mouthing off. If you listen to your patients as loosely as you read, I fear for your patients.

  5. Mark Bello says:
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    Dr Cox: To quote your hero, Ronald Reagan, “there you go again…” The caps you dream of do nothing to solve the problem you always bitch about. You are a hypocrite. On the one hand, you scream about doctors being able to get damages if they are wrongfully sued; on the other hand, you argue that a plaintiff’s damages should be capped when he/she proves that a doctor ruined his/her family’s lives. You never fail to talk out of both sides of your mouth. You are always a truth twister: Your spout inaccurate statistics and fail, ALWAYS, to report the amount of cases that are successfully SETTLED without a trial. And there isn’t a state in the union that permits an attorney to receive 56% of case recoveries in fees. That statistic is false and you know it to be false. Because injured clients often lack the means to pay for the cost of litigation, attorneys often advance those costs for them. Doctors and insurance companies don’t seem to have that problem. Doctors and insurance companies retain the best and brightest to represent them and spend a fortune proffering frivolous defenses that delay and prolong proceedings, filing motion after motion and discovery request after discovery request. As a result, the actual cost of protecting the plaintiff from this assault can become expensive. This litigious defense behavior is a root cause of the expense of litigation, not a solution. The repayment of these costs, advanced by the attorney on the client’s behalf, may, in some cases, result in a recovery less than 50% for the client. But that is the price of a frivolous DEFENSE. You can yell; you can scream, but you will still be a liar. Only the truth will set you free.

  6. Philip says:
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    Well Said! This world would be no where without that man

  7. jc says:
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    “Pain & suffering” damages are subjective damages. Plaintiff attorneys want them to increase there fees and also to increase the pressure on defendant docs to settle frivolous cases that plaintiff attorneys can’t prove in court. I am against “pain and suffering” damages for those reasons. In the vast majority of cases settled out of court, the case is dropped with no payment to the plaintiff—because the vast majority of med mal cases are frivolous and filed by incompetent plaintiff attorneys!

  8. jc says:
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    So tell me guys, what kind of bozo plaintiff’s attorney would file a medical malpractice case (like Brenda Scheckelhoff ) without having an expert witness on board? It appears that you guys support that practice.

  9. jc says:
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    So Mark Bello calls me a liar. I take that as a compliment coming from a plaintiff’s lawyer like him. Medical malpractice plaintiff attorneys are a profession based on fraud and legalized extortion. It is fraud for plaintiff attorneys to advertise their services on T.V. When they know they lose 85% of their cases at trial and half the patients that win get nothing because the plaintiff attorney hogs all the award. It is legal extortion to file a frivolous med mal case and try and get the med mal insurer to settle the case to avoid expensive litigation. Lets get rid of these bozos and have medical courts!

  10. jc says:
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    Jessica’s–I will directly answer your question. I believe that if a doctor makes a serious mistake the patient should be entitled to medical damages, economic damages but “pain and suffering damages should be capped because they are subjective damages (what does $150k of pain and suffering damages look like compared to $50k of pain and suffering damages?). There are lots of limits on damage awards I the American legal system. Injured at Ford–gotta go to Workers Comp for compensation. Make a bad stock investment–gotta go to arbitration. Government makes these legal limitations to protect jobs at Ford and to allow Wall Street to raise money for expanding companies. So why not protect doctors from unjust and excessive “pain and suffering” awards?

  11. jc says:
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    Jessica’s–Who are you kidding? Judges almost never impose sanctions against plaintiff attorneys. I know, because a baseless ridiculous suit was filed against me and the Judge Reed refused to impose sanctions–because he is a lawyer!

  12. Mike Bryant says:
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    Ah it is Dr Cox and his rants again. So have you told the truth to the patient that was killed yet? Has your dream included coming clean?

    You want total freedom to injure and harm the consumer so you don’t need to hide any more? I look at your example and say , “so what” , the system worked. Unlike, the family you let down.

    I am surprised that your usual worthless diatribe is in the am, and not after drink time. Or is it the am now?

  13. jc says:
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    Notice how Mike Bryant is always talking about drinking. That is probably because he picks up most of his clients in bars.

  14. jc says:
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    Christy–most of the victims of medical malpractice suits are the defendant docs who get dragged thru the exceptionally long litigation process to eventually be vindicated in the end (80-85% of jury verdicts are for the defendant doc). What compensation should these innocent victims get?

  15. jc says:
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    Notice how Mike Bryant says, “I looked at your example and said, so what, the system worked.” It certainly works well for Mike Bryant and other bozo plaintiff attorneys who file malpractice lawsuits without any background information or expert witnesses. It doesn’t work well when you are the defendant doctor who is facing possible years of malpractice litigation because a bozo plaintiff attorney did not fully investigate the claim with basic research. This is a prime example of why we need medical courts to adjudicate these issues.

  16. Mike Bryant says:
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    Did you tell the truth yet Doctor Cox?

  17. jc says:
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    Mike, as opposed to plaintiff attorneys, I always tell the truth. Do you tell your clients that if you take their medical malpractice case to court there is only a 1 in 20 chance that they will ever get any money?

  18. jc says:
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    Mark Bello’s dreams are impractical! If a worker is injured in a Ford Factory, we allow the worker to get workers compensation. We do not allow a jury to award a trillion dollars and destroy Ford, it’s stockholders, and its 350,000 employees. If my electricity goes out spoiling a freezer full of meat, I cannot sue the power company, gotta complain to the PUC. Congress has restricted my right to sue so we all can have affordable electricity. Similarly state legislatures have limited “pain and suffering” damages and rightly so!

  19. Mike Bryant says:
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    Dr Cox you know what I am talking about and no you didn’t tell the family then and my guess is you continue to hide from the truth. You come here and you rant and you shake your fist. You say mean things and you repeat and you repeat the same falsehoods.
    Please look in the mirror and ask yourself why you hide the truth from that family. Why their loved one was harmed. Tell them the truth. Then come back here and tell us about how to treat people.

  20. jc says:
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    Mike–I don’t know what the heck you are talking about. I do know that you and other members of this blog just cannot stand it when someone disagrees with them. Yep, Mark Bello, Mike Bryant, et al, want to hold everyone accountable–except themselves. According to these guys, an 85% failure caused by inexperienced untrained plaintiff attorneys is O.K. In this blog, Mike Bryant thinks its fine for a plaintiff attorney to file a malpractice lawsuit without any expert witness and without evidence that malpractice even occurred! That would be akin to me performing surgery on a patient who did not need it. If I did that, I would be crtitized by my medical colleagues and insurance would not pay the bill! Yet Mike Bryant cannot bring himself to be critical of a bozo plaintiff attorney who files a merit less lawsuit, instead he says, “the system worked”.

  21. jc says:
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    Loser pays seems to be working in Florida and Alaska. Maybe it should be adopted across the U.S.A.

  22. Mike Bryant says:
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    Dr Cox You admitted some time ago that you left a family without the truth. That you hide what you did to their loved one. I have been asking you about it ever since. You may not want to remember the truth.

    The rest of your claims are gibberish to hide the truth. Find one blog that any of us here have written that say the things you accuse us of. You hate trial lawyers. You hate consumers. Go back to your troll hole. And again, look in a mirror and ask for the truth.

  23. Jake says:
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    Dr Cox or JC: I read a lot of what Mr. Bello writes and he has never lied or advocated for the things you are complaining about. He simply believes that the 7th Amendment provides for unfettered access to the courts without legislative interference. Such is mandated by the 7th Amendment and the concept of separation of powers. Further, he opposes caps on damages in SERIOUS cases; I have not seen anything written by him that supports the filing of frivolous ones or restricts punishment for those who bring them. I think that the same reasoning (and I am certain he would agree) should apply to those who pursue frivolous DEFENSES. There is substantial financial inequality in the litigation process. Defendants can easily afford a loser pays system; plaintiffs cannot. Still, accountability should cut both ways, as long as there is a fair way to do it. Clearly, “fairness” suffers when corporate money and politics interfere with civil justice. Corporations throw millions, if not billions, at legislators and you get “tort reform”. That’s wrong and you know its wrong. Since negligent doctors benefit from it, you support it, but its still wrong. My feeling is that Mr. Bello is far “righter” than you are and he doesn’t rant, rave and distort like you do. Apparently, you are a doctor; you have a post graduate education. Why not try a more professional response than citing inaccurate statistics and calling other professionals “bozo”. It demeans you and your profession.

  24. jc says:
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    Mike I still do not know what you are talking about.
    Jake, I write about bozo plaintiff attorneys because this site is lawyer centered and if you read it you get a very distorted view of the medical profession. I disagree with Mark Bello’s rendition of the 7th Amendment. Legislatures routinely restrict access to the courts for numerous businesses and government. We have worker’s compensation to prevent injured workers from bankrupting corporations. A stockbroker once stole money out of my account. I could not sue Merryl Lynch, had to go to arbitration. Well we regulate doctors fees, we require medical licenses and continuing medical education, docs have to go to medical staff meetings, and carry expensive medical malpractice insurance. So why shouldn’t we as a society limit subjective “pain and suffering” damages so that doctors can have affordable medical malpractice insurance? Every doctor that I know has the nightmare of working very hard thru their careers and someday some inadvertent sequence of events occurs and then you are subjected to years of malpractice litigation and possible forfeiture of everything you have worked for.

  25. jc says:
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    Mike I still do not know what you are talking about.
    Jake, I write about bozo plaintiff attorneys because this site is lawyer centered and if you read it you get a very distorted view of the medical profession. I disagree with Mark Bello’s rendition of the 7th Amendment. Legislatures routinely restrict access to the courts for numerous businesses and government. We have worker’s compensation to prevent injured workers from bankrupting corporations. A stockbroker once stole money out of my account. I could not sue Merryl Lynch, had to go to arbitration. Well we regulate doctors fees, we require medical licenses and continuing medical education, docs have to go to medical staff meetings, and carry expensive medical malpractice insurance. So why shouldn’t we as a society limit subjective “pain and suffering” damages so that doctors can have affordable medical malpractice insurance? Every doctor that I know has the nightmare of working very hard thru their careers and someday some inadvertent sequence of events occurs and then you are subjected to years of malpractice litigation and possible forfeiture of everything you have worked for.

  26. jc says:
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    Jake, you seem to take exception of me calling some plaintiff attorneys “bozos”. I have to tell you that my experience with plaintiff attorneys is that they routinely make horrendous mistakes with their malpractice cases. I mean I have seen plaintiff attorneys sue the wrong doctor, and then when they discover their mistake the statute of limitations has expired. In the case I presented at this website, no expert witness could be found to testify against the doctors and still the plaintiff attorney filed the lawsuit. I have seen plaintiff attorneys hire expert witnesses who ended up agreeing with the defendant doc at deposition and trial. So what should we call plaintiff attorneys who make blunders like this? Should we call them inept, or inexperienced, or lazy or just plain dumb? I prefer the term “bozo” and I think that fairly describes them.

  27. jc says:
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    Gentlemen, on this website, I am going to make a call for delay damages for doctors. Yep, since doctors win 85% of medical malpractice cases at trial, there have to be a lot of frivolous med malpractice lawsuits out there. In my experience, these suits get dropped on the courthouse steps or the plaintiff attorney gets embarressed at trial. In any event, the defendant doctor has had to endure months and years of litigation and worry long after it has become plainly apparent that the plaintiff does not have a case. I propose that the plaintiff attorney has 90 days from the last pertinent expert witness to drop the case. If the plaintiff attorney does not drop the case, he could be held liable for $1,000 a month in delay damages from the end of the 90 day period forward. Hey the defendant doc has to endure the worry and harm of prolonged litigation. Banks sometimes will not lend to docs with active med mal cases. Prolonged litigation can threaten docs jobs and marriages. Medical malpractice companies raise rates or cancel policies. So if a plaintiff attorney wrongly delays a case, he should be liable for delay damages, just like a doctor who is clearly guilty of malpractice and will not settle with a patient. That patient can get delay damages and the doctor should be able to get delay damages too!

  28. Jon says:
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    JC: If you are, indeed, a practicing physician, you clearly seem to have too much time on your hands. Instead of worrying about quoting the same inaccurate statistics, over and over again, and making a fool out of yourself, why not try your best to be the best doctor you can be? Calling other professionals “bozo’s” or other names when you have never encountered them professionally or personally, trivializes an otherwise important debate.

  29. jc says:
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    Jon–These are well established statistics, that plaintiff attorneys lose 85% of their cases at trial. I have seen many bozo plaintiff attorneys in action. I wish the legal profession would do something about them.

  30. Jon says:
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    JC: DEFENDANTS (doctors) choose which cases to try. They settle the other 99%. You know this; the public does too. As such, you should put quotations around your so-called “statistics”. Malpractice is highly contentious, very expensive, and emotionally painful litigation. The vast majority of cases are brought for solid reasons, by seriously harmed people represented by skilled attorneys, and against doctors who did something seriously wrong. Malpractice litigation is too time consuming and too expensive to file otherwise. And, as I said, the vast majority of cases filed as SETTLED, favorably to the plaintiff. Most states require an expert opinion as to the merits, BEFORE filing the case. Thus, cases cannot be filed without merit. If you are a doctor, you KNOW this and the public does too. You demean your profession and make a fool out of yourself with your childish behavior and phony “statistics”. Don’t you have anything better to do?

  31. jc says:
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    Jon–talk about fools and childish behavior. According to my malpractice carrier, (The Medical Protective Co), 85% of the cases filed against their clients are dropped without payment, which agrees with my personal observations. Plaintiff attorneys can and do file malpractice suits without expert witnesses as noted in the earlier example in this blog. In Ohio, as I expect in other states, if the plaintiff attorney cannot find a medical expert to back up his case, he must drop the case in 90 days. But still, the plaintiff attorney can file the case and neither the clerk of courts nor the judge can stop him and you know this as does the public. Once the case is filed it becomes a permanent part of the physician’s career record forever! Finally, I think it is high time we acknowledge the gross incompetence of the average plaintiff med malpractice attorney. Jon, you and your profession like to point fingers at doctors. Yet without advanced training, I cannot walk into a hospital and perform brain surgery the day after I get my medical license. But a lawyer can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor the day after he passes the State Bar exam, with no experience or training at all! These are among the most difficult cases to win. Is it any wonder that these lawyers have such a high loss rate? That is why I call them bozo plaintiff attorneys—and the term is well deserved!

  32. Mark Bello says:
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    Dr. Cox: I love it when people engage you on this site. It exposes what a bitter, “sour grapes” loser you are. Obviously, some “bozo” bested you in court and turned you into the whiner you have become. Why don’t you, as Mike Bryant keeps requesting, come clean about how you became this pathetic individual who trolls legal websites so that you can lie about how the medical-legal system works? Are you still a practicing doc? Why do you have so much time on your hands? Tell all of my readers about the case that you lost and what you did wrong to get sued and lose? If you are no longer practicing medicine, tell them why you are not. When will you finally admit that it takes significant experience to file and win malpractice cases because these cases are too complicated and too expensive for a novice? When will you admit that the vast majority (well over 90%) of cases filed are SETTLED FAVORABLY TO THE PLAINTIFF and that the statistics that you so often misquote apply only to a handful of leftovers, carefully chosen for trial by DEFENSE lawyers (and even many of THOSE cases result in plaintiff verdicts)? When will you admit that losing a case does not mean that it had no merit when it was filed? When will you admit that there are many bad doctors? And that these doctors get sued over and over again and make good doctors look bad? Why would another doctor not want them held accountable? Are you one of them? People like Jon, Jake or Jessica try to engage you in sensible and serious debate at this location and you, instead, spout the same lies with the same lack of professionalism. I saw your comment about Texas on Andrew’s post. Are you proud that doctors can commit serious mistakes in Texas, without consequence? You constantly complain about worthless lawsuits. But Texas is an example of tort reform that prevents collection of serious damages in serious cases. This “top down” reform has NEVER been about preventing the filings you are so concerned about. Why would any good physician want to limit the damages recoverable by someone who has been seriously harmed by a bad doctor or a bad mistake? Are you a “good” physician or a “bad” one? What was your mistake and what was the punishment handed to you that you are so bitter about? Come clean or just keep making a fool of yourself and, worse, your profession.

  33. jc says:
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    I am a practicing doctor, who has been more successful, perhaps, than I deserve. In my field of medicine, I am frequently subjected to frivolous medical malpractice suits, which I almost always win! These suits abruptly ended 7 years ago when I made the decision to fight frivolous lawsuits all the way to h&$! If I have to. I have found that the last thing that plaintiff attorneys want to do is actually try their case before a jury—they lose those! I have raised 3 well adjusted kids who are on their own and no longer on my family payroll. So as I approach the end of my career, I would like to give something back to the medical profession which has been so good to me and my family. I am using my personal and professional contacts to advocate for aggressive tort reform. Already, I have worked with my state medical association, and this Fall a bill will be introduced in the legislature for tort reform. I learn from this blog what arguments I will face when making arguments for tort reform, so I am well prepared to argue back if a plaintiff’s attorney wants to verbally spar with me. I am convinced that our current tort system is garbage, which only benefits plaintiff attorneys like yourselves. We would be much better off with medical courts!

  34. jc says:
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    Mark Bello has made several challanges to me in his latest post. I am predominantly engaged in fighting against frivolous litigation, which I and my colleagues see all too often. Mark Bello is most concerned about caps presumably about pain and suffering. O.K, Mark, I am prepared to respectfully debate you. But lets take one topic at a time. Your choice, would you prefer to discuss frivolous litigation or caps on damages. I support restrictions on both and I have strong arguments to support both these points.

  35. Mark Bello says:
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    Dr. Cox: Love the “I am frequently subjected to frivolous lawsuits which I ALMOST ALWAYS win”. So, you have lost serious cases filed against you and you have also lost “frivolous” cases filed against you. Why don’t you tell the readers about the “frivolous” cases you lost, what you allegedly did wrong, and how the “system” screwed you. Provide the names of the attorneys who filed these “frivolous” cases and won, so we can provide the readers with their perspective. Let’s get to the bottom of this. By the way, while you are at it, if you have made any “serious” mistakes and gotten sued for them, please include those and the outcomes and the attorneys involved. Please also include the mistakes you know you made and weren’t sued for. The truth, for a change, please. As to your “let’s debate” post, my questions have been out there in numerous posts. I and many of my readers have asked you, over and over, to stop the unprofessional attacks on lawyers (with misleading statistics) and engage in serious debate. You have consistently refused. The first Republican politician that you throw enough money at will support your tort reform stance, but that doesn’t mean that you have the correct constitutional argument. You are just another special interest in search of a political bailout. That is what your version of “tort reform” is.

  36. jc says:
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    Actually, I have never lost a frivolous case filed against me. I had one go on for 6 years, because of a typographical mistake which I was not responsible for and the report had no effect on the patient’s outcome. That case was thrown out on the court house steps. I have also had cases filed against me and dropped after 90 days because no expert could be found to testify against me. I will never settle a frivolous malpractice suit, no matter how long it takes. Mark Bello, you assertion that plaintiff lawyers settle over 90% of cases favorably to the plaintiff is a bald face lie. That is no where near correct. As I have previously stated, The Medical Protective Company states that 85% of their physicians that get sued get dropped from the case with no payment. That is certianly what I see locally. So I have to assume that you are simply lying to protect your income. I would like to bring up another point. Earlier in this blog you stated that no plaintiff lawyer can get 56% of a judgement. Well, Mark, as you probably know, most plaintiff attorneys charge a 40% contingency fee for medical malpractice cases. It takes about $100K to put on a medical malpractice case in court costs, expert witnesses and legal fees. When you add in the 40% contingency fee, the patient has to win at least $150K before they see any money at all! So frequently when the attorney wins a case at trial, the legal fees get paid, the attorney gets paid and the client gets nothing! That happens in about half the cases that plaintiff attorneys win at trial. So, if the plaintiff attorney loss rate at trial is 85% and the client doesn’t get any money in half the cases that the plaintiff attorney wins, well the client only gets money in 5-7% of cases that go to trial. But I have yet to hear a plaintiff attorney on a T.V. add say, “If we take your case, and we go thru a trial, you will only get money 5% of the time.”

  37. jc says:
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    Mark Bello has stated that he is agains tort reform that includes caps on “pain and suffering” because he thinks this is “unfair” to the patient. He likes to site the 7th admendment to the constitution. I am for caps on “pain and suffering” (p & s) damages because these are subjective damages. What does $5,000 of p & s damages look like compared to $500,000 of p & s damages? P & S damages are not the same as criminal damages or punitive damages. Hey, docs are humans and things sometimes fall thru the cracks and mistakes are made. But no doctor that I know of intentionally harms a patient. So we as a society have limitations on peoples ability to sue. There is eminent domain, there is workers compensation and there is forced arbitration in securities disputes. As a doctor, I am not allowed to sue other doctors for what is said in PEER review. Society has decided to limit litigation in these areas to protect governments, corporations, securities firms and the PEER review process, from flagrant destructive litigation. Why shouldn’t this apply to doctors with P & S litigation so that we can lower malpractice insurance costs? Some doctor works his entire career helping people and because of one inadvertant mistake, we are going to wipe him out financially and force him out of his career and out on the streets? Well most states say no and are putting caps on pain and suffering damages.

  38. Jon says:
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    JC: In one post you lost a frivolous case. In this one, you didn’t. You lie and distort so often that you can’t keep track. Lawyers who essentially loan a client case costs (most of which are necessitated by frivolous defenses and delay advanced by guilty doctors) shouldn’t get their money back? Who pays for the costs of all of those frivolous defenses on your side? What should justice do when one side (yours) has all the power? That a lawyer is willing to loan case costs to a client is the only way that client can compete on a level playing field with powerful insurance companies, hospitals and doctors. And it is the DEFENSE that causes all of the expense! Despite all of this, it is well known that the vast majority of cases filed are settled favorably to the plaintiff, yet you continue to deny that simple truth. I don’t know why Mr. Bello bothers to try to get you to engage in a serious conversation. You are obviously too angry and too biased by your own personal experiences and self-rightiousness to so engage. By the way, it is also interesting to note that your famous 85% statistic is now found to be something reported by only one…wait for it…, MALPRACTICE INSURANCE COMPANY! Now THERE’S an impartial observer! And only one carrier? You are ridiculous. Where are the personal experiences Mr. Bello asked you for? The public is waiting…

  39. jc says:
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    Jon- -I have decided that I will not give details of my malpractice history. In large part because it would expose me to litigation from the plaintiff lawyers that I beat! Believe it or not, I prefer to spend my time on professional pursuits and not defending myself in court against frivolous litigation. Now lets talk about delays, since you brought them up. The delays that I have experienced are solely due to the plaintiff lawyers when they find out their case is worthless. What happens is that the plaintiff attorney has some money invested in the case and has botched his own case so badly that he delays and delays and delays the case. He tries to run out the clock, praying that the doctor will settle the case for him so that at least he can break even on his expenses. The plaintiff attorney in the case I described earlier asked for $200K to settle the case. I told him to take that offer and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. Eventually the case was thrown out of court on the court house steps. But the plaintiff attorney was able to drag out the case for 6 years. This is a classic case of why the legal system is too incompetent to hear these cases. Now lets discuss settlements – -some times docs will settle a case for <$25,000 because it takes tons of time and years to conclude this litigation. If we had a speedy way of concluding these cases, plaintiff attorneys would lose even more cases. Finally, the Medical Protective Company is the largest malpractice insurer in the USA. When they tell me that 85% of their cases are dropped with no payment, I believe it, particularly when I am aware that that is the experience that I have observed locally. So Jon, you and Mark Bello are pathological liars if you continue to spout this garbage that plaintiff attorneys settle most of their cases for big bucks. Doesn't happen! As I have honestly said before, plaintiff attorneys profession is based on fraud and deceit. It is fraud to advertize and tell people what serious attorneys you are and not tell then that only 1 in 20 will win any money if their case goes to court. It is deceitful to spout inaccurate statistics regarding the prevelance of medical malpractice to enhance your own incomes..

  40. jc says:
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    News flash! I just heard from an adjuster friend from The Doctors Company, the second largest malpractice insurance company in the USA. She told me that TDC wins 91% of cases that go to trial and 80% of cases are dropped pre-trial. So we have 85% of cases dropped pretrial by The Medical Protective Company and 80% of cases dropped pre-trial by the Doctors Company. As everyone on this site can see, Mark Bello and Jon are pathological liars when they say that 90% of cases are settled for the plaintiff pre-trial in medical malpractice cases. Shame on you Mark Bello and Jon for lying to the readers of this blog!

  41. Mark Bello says:
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    Blah blah blah blah blah. What percentage of all cases are settled without trial, Dr. Cox? Ask your two insurance adjusters that question; then we’ll talk. By the way, what medical reporting website would allow a trial lawyer to make the unprofessional comments that you continue to make at this one? Answer: “None”. The 1st Amendment lives at the Legal Examiner; knock yourself out making a fool out of yourself.

  42. jc says:
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    See, my arguments are so incisive that I am making Mark Bello a blathering idiot. All he can say is Blah, blah, blah, blah! I do not consider it “unprofessional” to call some plaintiff attorneys “bozos” when they fail to do basic research and line up medical experts before filing a malpractice suit. On this blog, Mark Bello stated that” the vast majority (well over 90%) of cases filed are SETTLED FAVORABLY TO THE PLAINTIFF” So my malpractice company, The Medical Protective Co., says that 85% of cases filed against their physician clients get dropped before trial. A senior claims adjuster for the Doctors Company says that 80% of cases filed against their physician clients get dropped before trial. So the two biggest malpractice insurance companies in the USA say that 80-85% of their medical malpractice cases get dropped before trial with no payment! Of those that go to trial 85% result in defense verdicts! Those results, by the way, correspond very well with my local experience and knowledge. Readers, I think Mark Bello needs to either show evidence to back up his statistic or retract his statement. Otherwise it is very appropriate for me to call him a pathological liar, because that is what he is.

  43. jc says:
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    Here are some hard numbers for you plaintiff attorneys to swallow. They come from a senior adjuster at The Doctors Company. “In terms of trial outcomes, through June, The Doctors Company had tried 264 cases nationwide with a 91% win ratio. (Last year, over the same period, we had tried 221 cases with an 88% win ratio). In just the Northeast Region, we have tried 147 cases with only 8 plaintiff verdicts through June.–My question to you plaintiff attorneys is how on God’s earth do you stay in business winning so few cases?

  44. Jon says:
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    Moron JC: Bello keeps giving you the reason, but you refuse to acknowledge: Bad doctors and good doctors who make a serious medical mistake settle the cases that they are likely to lose. They only try what’s left! And even a small percentage of thosee cases win. If the statistics were what you claim them to be, why would you be crying for “tort reform”? You would be winning everything and wouldn’t need the help! Why would you need a damages cap if everything filed was crap? Because your statistics are baloney as they they ignore settled cases. What part of this don’t you understand?

  45. jc says:
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    Jon I am going to spell it out for you in capital letters so perhaps you will understand. THE TWO LARGEST MALPRACTICE CARRIERS IN THE USA SAID THAT 80-85% OF CASES THAT ARE FILED AGAINST THEIR INSURED DOCTORS ARE DROPPED WITHOUT PAYMENT TO THE PLAINTIFF. SOME OF THE REMAINING 15-20% OF CASES GO ON TO TRIAL WHERE PLAINTIFF ATTORNEYS LOSE 91-94% OF THE TIME. SO PERHAPS 10-15% OF MALPRACTICE CASES RESULT IN MONEY TO THE PLAINTIFF LAWYER AND HIS CLIENT. These statistics prove to me that the medical legal tort system is corrupt and that lots of frivolous suits are filed. In America, we reform industries which have 85-90% failure rates. Name another American Industry that has these rates of failure. By the way, Jon, I get my statistics from The Medical Protective Co and The Doctors Co, the two major malpractice insurers in the USA. These guys know their statistics (I could not believe that plaintiff attorneys LOST all but 8 of 147 cases tried in the Northwest Region of TDC) and they know what they settle. So where are you and Mark Bello coming up with “(well over 90%) are settled FAVORABLY TO THE PLAINTIFF.” Did Mark Bello just pull that statistic out of his butt?

  46. Mark Bello says:
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    Dr.Cox: Respectfully, you are not asking these insurance executives the right questions and the way you frame the questions skew the answers. Give me their names and numbers and I will ask them for the statistics and the source of those statistics and report exactly what they say, whether it helps or harms my cause. How does that sound?

  47. jc says:
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    I do not see how I skewed the answers with my question. I asked, “What percentage of malpractice cases filed against your insured clients are dropped without payment?” Results: The Medical Protective Co.=85%, The Doctors Company=80%. Mark, how should I have asked this question?

  48. Mark Bello says:
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    Names and phone numbers please?

  49. jc says:
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    The Medical Protective company said that 85% of their cases were dropped without settlement in a renewal add which they sent to me with my premium notice. You may contact them at 800-463-3776. I have been working with the insurance adjuster at The Doctors Company and she has said that 80% of cases were dropped. I will contact her to make sure that she will agree to speak with you.

  50. jc says:
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    Jon- -I would like to answer a point you brought up on this blog. You stated, “If the statistics are what you say they are, why are you crying for tort reform?” Jon, when a medical malpractice suit is filed, it becomes a permanent part of that physician’s professional record forever, because whenever he applies for hospital staff privileges or a medical license, he has to report that case. This happens even if he is found innocent! A pending medical malpractice case can take years to resolve. During those years, your med malpractice insurer can and will raise rates. Your hospital administator and fellow doctors may restrict privileges. You can be prevented from getting a bank loan or have to pay higher rates. I have just named a few of the things that can happen. Now if you win the case, the med mal insurer will not return increased premium that you have paid. The hospital may or may not restore your privileges , and the bank will not refund the excess interest that you paid on the loan due to the increased risk that you presented when you were undergoing the senseless medical malpractice suit. There is permanent damage to you reputation. Unfortunately, plaintiff attorneys take these “unfortunate circumstances” which occurr to physicians, lightly. This is why I want delay damages for physicians. Competent plaintiff attorneys will quickly dismiss a physician who has no liability, unfortunately, too many incompetent plaintiff attorneys are allowed to file these suits.

  51. Mark Bello says:
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    Dr. Cox: Read your own comments! “When a malpractice suit is filed, it becomes a permanent part of that physician’s…record…” Why? So the insurance company can charge you more money for your insurance! Shouldn’t rates be based on whether or not you committed malpractice? “Carrier can and will raise rates…” My point exactly! Hospital…may restrict privileges…” Why? If you’ve done nothing wrong, why the restriction? “Med mal insurer will not return increased premiums…” Why not? Sounds fair to me. The more I read, the more I see that you agree with me. The problem is that INSURANCE COMPANIES screw EVERYBODY in the name of PROFITS and shareholder satisfaction. All of the problems you describe are within the discretion of insurance companies. They could charge reasonable rates, but they don’t and then blame the big bad lawyers. Worse, they deflect the blame to the lawyers so that you will pay these higher premiums and, instead of blaming your carrier for screwing you, you will blame the lawyers, as well. Funny that the percentage cited by Medical Protective came with your INVOICE! What timing! This way, you will pay all of these additional premiums without much push back. How convenient for them! A malpractice case costs about $50,000 to pursue (because of all of the laws that insurance companies lobbied for, because of all of the frivolous defenses they pursue, and because most doctors prefer cover-up and defensiveness to a simple apology and rectification of errors). Just how do all of these “incompetent plaintiff attorneys” whose cases are dismissed afford to shell out $50,000 for each frivolous case that gets dismissed without payment? Malpractice cases are serious business and take serious expertise (those who you refer to as “competent plaintiff attorneys”). These experts do not take on these cases and spend the kind of money that the system requires to lose the vast majority of the time. It is nonsense and you know it is nonsense. There is a “bad seed” minority in every profession; I will not deny that some exist in mine as you have denied that bad doctors cause serious mistakes. But, the bottom line is that your biggest complaints are caused by the unreasonableness of the companies that insure your profession and refuse to quickly and fairly compensate those who members of your profession injure. Look at who you are in bed with on these issues; these are not good people! Why are these things acceptable to you? Come to the light…..