Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #4-7

Published October 3, 2005

This is How We Reward Heroes in America

A Connecticut woman who almost died when a car driven by her son-in-law crashed through a chain-link fence and plunged into the Connecticut River is suing the town of Old Saybrook, whose policemen and other volunteers rescued her from certain death. The woman, who is now in a nursing home with severe brain damage, spent 29 minutes submerged in the water following the accident, which occurred when her son-in-law lost control of his Ford Explorer.

The woman’s attorney claims the chain-link fence should have been stronger, there should have been more signs warning of “unsafe conditions” on the road where the accident occurred, and the town could have maintained a rescue diving team but refused to fund it.

Curiously, at a ceremony honoring the police, firefighters, and others who repeatedly dove without equipment to try and rescue the woman, her family attended and thanked her rescuers.

To no one’s surprise, she is also suing her son-in-law. From The Hartford Courant

Stop Me Before I Drink Again!

A policeman who failed to arrest a 17-year-old girl for driving while apparently intoxicated, giving her only a warning, has gotten Pend Oreille County, Washington in big trouble. The young lady drove on to become involved in a serious accident in which the passenger in her pick-up truck was critically injured.

The teenage driver is suing the county for $1.5 million, claiming the officer’s failure to arrest her and prevent her from driving was the actual cause of the accident, which she claims caused her “pain, suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, and wage loss.”

While admitting the officer should have stopped her from driving, the county sheriff called the suit “part of the American blame game. People don’t want to accept responsibility for their actions. … We didn’t give her the booze. Her parents gave her the car. Where does the blame stop?” Good question. From The Spokane Spokesman-Review

Drug Companies = Evil. Evidence = Irrelevant

On August 19, pharmaceutical giant Merck lost the first in what promises to be a long series of trials on its pain-killer drug Vioxx. An Angleton, Texas jury ordered the company to pay $253 million to the widow of a man who died after taking Vioxx for eight months. Under Texas law, the award was reduced to a “mere” $26 million.

Our problem with this verdict is the man died of a heart aneurysm–a condition that has never been shown to be caused by Vioxx. Lord knows how much the next jury will decide to award plaintiffs who suffer illnesses such as non-fatal heart attacks that could more plausibly be caused by the drug. From The New York Times

Lies, Fraud, and Asbestos

The Manville Personal Injury Trust, which has paid out $3.3 billion to settle the claims of some 655,000 people who allege they were injured by exposure to Johns-Manville products containing asbestos, has blacklisted nine doctors and three X-ray screening companies. The trust said it would no longer pay claimants whose claims were supported by the blacklisted doctors and firms because of concerns the claims are not valid and may indeed be fraudulent.

One West Virginia doctor on the list submitted documents supporting 53,724 claims–nearly 8 percent of the total number of claims the trust has received. The situation is also being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York. From The New York Times

It’s Paradise, Not a Parking Lot

The mother of a northeastern Pennsylvania firefighter who drowned after a Jeep in which he was riding plunged into a waterhole on land owned by the Earth Conservancy, a conservation group, is suing the organization, alleging its negligence led to her son’s death. The conservancy said the property was open to the public for hiking, hunting, and other outdoor activities similar to state game lands, but motorized vehicles are strictly prohibited.

Police investigating the accident found no reason to charge the conservancy for any crime or violation. From The Times-Leader

It’s a Hospital, Not a Trophy

Doctors at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston are up in arms about a $25 million gift to the institution from infamous plaintiffs’ attorney John O’Quinn. It’s not that the doctors don’t want the gift, but the quid pro quo is that the hospital will have to rename its famed medical tower after O’Quinn.

In a letter and petition to the St. Luke’s board of directors the doctors complained, “The primary source of his financial success has been representing plaintiffs in medical liability and products liability cases, many of them groundless” … and many of which also included suing doctors.

The executive chairman of the board said it had already taken into consideration the concerns raised by the doctors and “isn’t inclined to reconsider.” From The Houston Chronicle

Smokers Paying for Pork

According to a recent op-ed in The New York Times titled “Burning Money,” in the past five years the states involved in the massive $246 billion tobacco settlement have received $40.7 billion in money from Big Tobacco but have devoted only 5 percent of it to “fighting the tobacco epidemic.” Where has all the money gone? The Times listed a few examples:

  • Alabama has spent more than $1 million on boot camps for juvenile delinquents, alternative schools, and metal detectors and surveillance cameras for schools.
  • Michigan, which spends zero dollars on smoking prevention or cessation, has used 75 percent of its money on $2,500 scholarships for high school students.
  • Illinois has used $315 million for property tax relief and an earned income tax rebate.
  • New York has, among other things, spent $700,000 to buy golf carts and an irrigation and sprinkler system for a public golf course in upstate Niagara County.
  • And finally, in an irony to break the bank, North Carolina is spending 75 percent of its money on aid to tobacco farmers whose income has suffered due to the high price of cigarettes … caused mainly by the enormous cost to Big Tobacco of the settlement.

Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly

Published by The Heartland Institute (312/377-4000), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1984. The full text of this newsletter is also available in Adobe Acrobat’s PDF format; click here
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Publisher: Joseph L. Bast
Editors: Maureen Martin, Diane Carol Bast

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