Doctor, Before You Save My Life, Can I See Your Hospital Contract?

Yesterday, my wife called me on her way back from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s oral arguments to tell me about Green v. Pennsylvania Hospital et al., a medical malpractice case. She swiftly assigned me two tasks: first, I had to figure out who the appellate lawyer for the plaintiff was (because they had done an excellent job), and, second, I had to write about the case.   I had a hunch about the excellent lawyer, and the docket confirmed it was indeed Howard Bashman, proprietor of the impossibly productive How Appealing. I’ve admired Bashman’s appellate work before, including referencing his ... Continue Reading

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Tonja Carter, Harper Lee, And The Duties Lawyers Owe To Elderly Clients

For someone who is “one of the world's most famous literary recluses,” and hasn’t given an in-depth interview or published any work in more than 50 years, Harper Lee has made quite a lot of headlines over the past few years.   She sued her agent, then her hometown museum, and in both alleged that each had taken advantage of her declining health. Her complaint against her agent alleged that, because of her “serious deafness” and “macular degeneration,” she was barely able to hear or read anymore. (The complaint also alleged, at paragraph 48, that as of October 2012, Tonja ... Continue Reading

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The Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Hypocrisy On Malpractice Cases

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently picked up on a story that has been around the Philadelphia legal community for a while, i.e., the $1 million in sanctions entered against attorney Nancy Raynor in the Sutch v. Roxborough Memorial Hospital case.   Raynor was defending Roxborough Hospital in a medical malpractice case in which the hospital failed to inform a patient or her doctor that her chest x-ray had revealed a potentially cancerous nodule on her lung. Twenty months later, the patient was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. She died six months later, and her relatives sued.   The decedent was ... Continue Reading

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Ethicon Asks MDL Court To Presume Women Lie About Their Health

Transvaginal mesh is one of the great health debacles of our time, causing more damage across more families than any other medical device in recent memory. I know it from my own files: the mesh implants ruin women’s health, often sending them down a spiral of revision surgeries and infections and debilitating pain that they never really escape.   Last April, the FDA finally started taking action to address the problem by proposing that surgical mesh for transvaginal pelvic organ prolapse be reclassified from a “moderate-risk device (class II)” to a “high-risk device (class III),” which would require manufacturers to ... Continue Reading

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Does The President Really Think U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz Is Doing A Good Job?

Next week is the second anniversary of the death of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide amid an unjustifiable prosecution led by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, a prosecution that at best was based on a complete misunderstanding of how computers work. Two years ago, a petition on the White House’s “We The People” site made a straightforward request: “Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz.”   U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. U.S. Attorneys, however, are removed at the sole discretion of the President. As ... Continue Reading

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Tort Reform Kills (General Motors Defective Ignition Edition)

As the New York Times described yesterday, Natasha Weigel and Amy Rademaker, both teenagers, died needlessly in 2006 because General Motors sold a defective car that suddenly lost power, causing them to crash and also causing their airbags to fail. A police investigation found that “[t]he car’s ignition switch had powered off seconds before the accident, and G.M. had received reports of similar incidents, pointing to a possible defect.” G.M. had already settled other cases involving deaths, including of another teenager, arising from the non-deployment of the frontal airbags in a 2005-2007 Cobalt.   The Weigel and Rademaker families both ... Continue Reading

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Sony And David Boies Owe Val Broeksmit And The Internet An Apology

[Updated January 2, 2015, regarding the DMCA issues. See below.] I used to be a fan of David Boies back when he was defending Napster, and I recall liking the guest lecture he gave at Temple Law, though I don’t remember what it was about. These days, though, like an unnecessary movie sequel, it seems he’s given up his integrity for a paycheck.   As part of the Sony hack, a huge slew of potentially embarrassing information has come to light, including a whole bunch of internal emails about, for example, why David Fincher had to direct the Steve Jobs ... Continue Reading

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“We Do Not Dispense Justice Via The Phone”

Last week, while I was waiting for a court conference back in “antechambers” (that is, the part of the judge’s office that isn’t the judge’s actual “chambers”), I spotted this sign, strategically placed so that every lawyer who came through would see it: They gave me permission to take a picture (always ask first — courts get sensitive about that), so long as I didn’t say where I took it. The judge’s clerk put it up one day after a string of calls from lawyers all trying to get the clerk to tell them how the judge would likely rule ... Continue Reading

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Tincher v. Omega Flex: Five Key Points From Pennsylvania’s New Standard For Strict Liability

  It’s finally here: Tincher v. Omega Flex, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s overhaul of strict liability. If you’re unfamiliar with the recent turbulence surrounding strict liability, check out this post of mine from July 2012, which will take you all the way from Webb v. Zern, 220 A.2d 853, 854 (1966) to Beard v. Johnson & Johnson, Inc., 41 A.3d 823 (Pa. 2012). Tincher is a foundational opinion, one that resets the landscape of strict liability and puts it on a more secure and coherent framework for the future.   The 137-page majority opinion written by Chief Justice Castille may ... Continue Reading

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Mediation Of A Big Injury Case: A Game Worth Playing?

A few months ago, in a wrongful death case I have against one of the biggest companies in America, the company’s lawyer asked: will you agree to a mediation?   Our firm founder, Jim Beasley, Sr., had a simple method to mediation: he told the representative to call and figure out what their highest number was. Then he told them if it was settled or not and left the mediation.   I haven’t tried that one yet, but maybe I should.   I’m not a fan of mediation. Mediation is useful where the parties have some shared interest in mutually ... Continue Reading

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