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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Trial Lawyers' Boon

The New York Post by FREDRIC U. DICKER - March 25, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. -  Gov. Paterson wants to hand the state's powerful trial lawyers a huge cash bonanza by rolling back a two-decades-old reform law that capped legal fees from medical-malpractice awards, The Post has learned. The rollback, long sought by the Trial Lawyers Association who since 2004 have donated more than $2 million to top state politicians, including Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was discussed Monday night as part of the secret state budget talks being conducted at the Capitol between aides to the governor and legislative leaders, four sources said. It was described as part of a "package" of medical-malpractice legislation that would include in what a source close to the talks said was an effort to tamp down objections from the state Medical Society a one-year freeze on malpractice-insurance premiums for doctors and other health-care professionals. "They were told Monday night that this is something the governor really wants," said a source briefed on the meeting. Raising the fee cap is a move fought for years by insurance companies, the Medical Society and other health-care groups. It would generate millions of dollars in windfall earnings for some of the state's most politically influential law firms including Weitz & Luxenberg, where Silver is employed. It would also benefit lawyers at Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, the Long Island firm where Paterson's father, Basil, is a partner.

Joseph Baker, a top health adviser to Paterson, has begun informing interested parties that the fee-cap rollback is likely to occur, a source who said he had spoken with Baker told The Post. A spokesman for Paterson refused to say if a fee-cap rollback was under discussion. Paterson received a $54,900 contribution from the trial lawyers' LawPAC political action committee after becoming governor last year and a total of $78,900 since 2005, state Board of Elections records show. LawPAC separately contributed more than $200,000 to the state Democratic Party last year. A medical-malpractice reform law, passed at the behest of Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1986, capped the money lawyers can receive as a result of successful lawsuits. The law limited payments at 30 percent for the first $250,000 in judgments, 25 percent for the next $250,000, 20 percent for the following $500,000, 15 percent for the next $250,000 and, finally, at 10 percent for amounts over $1.25 million. Under Paterson's proposal, all the caps would be lifted and a 33 percent commission on the total award would be authorized, according to the source who spoke to Baker. "It would be a bonanza for lawyers," said a source familiar with the proposal. Silver, who has repeatedly refused to publicly disclose how much he is paid by Weitz & Luxenberg, has long been described as the trial lawyers' most powerful friend in state government.


Anonymous said...

What the hell is Paterson thinking. If he keeps this crap up, he'll never get elected to anything- EVER.

Anonymous said...

Sounds reasonable to me. Why is the government involved in limiting fee's in the first place? Why aren't the insuranc company lawyers fee's limited only the peoples?

Anonymous said...

This is the right thing to do. The capping of attorney's fees was supposed to doctors malpractice rates but as with all things regarding insurance companies this not born out as attorney fees have nothing to do with malpractice rates. When it comes to insurance rates the insurance companies are the biggest liars in the world. The repeatedly lie that legitimate claims and fraud are what drive up rates. In fact that is their job is to pay legitimate claims. Fraudulent claims are no more pervasive in medical malpractice, auto accidents, etc., than any other area of life. Further, readers will notice it was not fraudulent claims that brought down AIG but in fact was greed, corruption and lack of oversight. Governor Paterson is doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

The above comment was supposed to say "The capping of attorney's fees was supposed to REDUCE doctors malpractice rates..." I apologize for my error.

Anonymous said...

Is Paterson still cleaning up and taking the scraps from Silver's Passover meals? If he helps Silver with this, will they allow him to sit at the table in the adjoining room and not just clean up after?

Anonymous said...

Upstate wants nothing to do with Paterson..he is a downstate screw job.
He only deals with upstate issues a little bit..because the Black Mayor of Buffalo comes from NYC and they are friendly....but he will screw him if the political winds suggest.
We will not vote for this hack, so if he gets is downstate that has put him there.
We are already screwed in so many,many the election for Governor ..if he is from downstate is completely mute up here and I believe anywhere else that is not NYC in our state, so his election is the responsibility of people, downdraft.
I have no faith in any thing Paterson is ALL politically motivated and that is extremely obvious!
So anything that mentions him on this blog has no significance to me...but the government run by 3 men in the bathroom.
And why is his layoffs of state employees, not including the Court employees...because that is where the political patronage is planted and needed to secure massive power!!!

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