Thursday, October 29, 2009

Words of Wisdom:

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." --Justice Louis Brandeis

New AAJ Report on Dangerous Products and Corporate Misconduct

A new report by the AAJ details true stories of corporations that knew their products were dangerous, and in some cases deadly, yet failed to act to protect consumers.

“They Knew and Failed To...” cites numerous examples of medical devices, prescription drugs, and other consumer products that remained on the market after critical safety concerns were raised within the companies, while the companies took action to avoid being held accountable for their misconduct. Get the report here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween: High Risk of Pedestrian Deaths

From USA Today: "Children are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween than any other night of the year, according to Safe Kids USA. More than 540 kids under age 14 are killed in pedestrian accidents each year. In an analysis of deaths from 2002 to 2006, the group found an average of 2.2 children are killed in pedestrian accidents from 4 to 10 p.m. on Halloween, compared with one child every other evening at the same time." Read more.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Just Joined the CCDL

Tonight I joined the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Inc., "a non-partisan, grassroots organization devoted to advocating rights affirmed by the Constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Connecticut. We are especially dedicated to protecting the unalienable right of all citizens to keep and bear arms, for the defense of both self and state, through public enlightenment and legislative action."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gun Rights Case Settled

The Day reports on the confidential settlement of my lawsuit against Groton, its police chief and several officers, alleging various constitutional rights violations stemming from a December incident in which police entered a home without a warrant in order to seize weapons. Article here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jewish Group Sues Litchfield Historic District Commission

The Connecticut Law Tribune reported on a Litchfield case brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA, which requires that communities have a compelling reason to reject plans by religious groups to build or expand their facilities. "In Connecticut, RLUIPA cases have involved a Jehovah’s Witnesses hall in Meriden, a proposed Buddhist temple in Newtown and now the proposed expansion of a Jewish center in Litchfield. The latter battle has turned particularly testy, with thinly veiled charges of anti-Semitism." Litchfield's Historic District Commission, which exists to protect the historic ambience of the downtown area, has been sued by an Orthodox Jewish group called Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County, after the commission rejected its expansion plans. The Chabad group currently occupies a 1,500-square-foot building. But when the organization purchased a 135-year-old house about a half mile away, and unveiled plans for a 21,000-square-foot addition that would include a synagogue, classrooms, kosher kitchens, and a community center, the historic commission rejected the plans, "stating that the sheer size of the addition would overwhelm the historic district. It proposed a compromise that would limit the building to 5,000 square feet." Chabad leaders dismiss the explanation for the rejection, citing "comments that were allegedly made about a Jewish symbol that would have been prominent in the project’s design. Rabbi Joseph Eisenbach claims a historic commission member said 'there is no place for a Star of David on the Litchfield Green.'"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

CT Atty General Investigating "Smart Choices" Food Labeling

The New York Times reported that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is "investigating a national labeling campaign that promotes products like Froot Loops and mayonnaise as nutritionally smart choices." The "Smart Choices" program "uses its own nutritional criteria, developed with input from the food industry, to evaluate products." And, foodstuff that "meet its standards can show the program's green checkmark logo on the front of their packages, intended as a signal to consumers that the product is nutritionally superior." But AG Blumenthal maintains that the program is "overly simplistic, inaccurate and ultimately misleading.'" So, his office will work to determine if the "labeling campaign violates the state's consumer protection law."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Criticism for Medicare's "Aggressive" Debt Collections

In a column in Mother Jones, Stephanie Mencimer wrote, "In recent years, Congress has pushed Medicare to aggressively pursue debts from injured elderly people who have won compensation through lawsuits or liability insurance." For people "on the receiving end of the collections process-mostly elderly car accident can be a traumatic ordeal." After "forcing plaintiffs' lawyers to serve as Medicare's debt collectors failed to produce the desired results, Congress passed new debt-collection measures as part of the 2007 SCHIP reauthorization. Starting next year, insurance companies must report any settlements or judgments involving Medicare beneficiaries to CMS. If a Medicare beneficiary fails to reimburse the agency for health care costs it paid, the agency can punish the insurance company with double damages." But "the prospect of harsher penalties is already leading to insurance company overkill that, combined with Medicare's bureaucracy, has kept some elderly folks from receiving money that's rightfully owed them."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

AAJ: Medical Malpractice Insurers' Profits Higher Than Most Fortune 500 Companies

The Washington Independent reported, "The American Association for Justice - the trial lawyers' lobby group - has just released an astounding statistic: medical malpractice insurance companies' average profits are higher than those of 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies. As the nation remains mired in a debate over health care reform and how to keep down the costs of expanding coverage, AAJ is trying to point out that Republicans claims that medical malpractice lawsuits are one of the big cost drivers is completely misleading. In fact, though malpractice claims and so-called 'defensive medicine' does account for a small percentage of unnecessary costs, medical errors and the astronomical profits of malpractice insurers appear to be a bigger part of the problem." AAJ President Anthony Tarricone said, "Insurance companies are gouging doctors on their premiums to mislead lawmakers," adding, "Today, injured patients are often left with no avenue to pursue justice, while health care costs continue to skyrocket."

New Website for Impressionist Artist Gersh Camassar

A newly launched website details my grandfather's life and career as an artist. You can also become a fan on Facebook. Do it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

BGlobe: Ban Pharma Payment Deals with Doctors

The Boston Globe editorialized that when physicians "promote drugs in exchange for pay from pharmaceutical companies, they cease to be independent evaluators" of drugs' safety. The editorial argues that hospitals "should prohibit doctors from taking part in so-called speakers bureaus, whereby companies compensate them for giving talks to colleagues about new drugs," and legislators "should go beyond requiring disclosure of the relationships, and ban the practice." As an example, the Globe points to Eli Lilly & Co., which "in the first three months of this year" paid "at least 60 doctors in Massachusetts a total of more than $580,000 to give speeches about its drugs." The piece emphasizes that Eli Lilly's "voluntary disclosure is only the tip of the iceberg. ... By some estimates, 1 in 6 doctors in the country take speakers' fees from drug companies."