Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC A Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

March 2010 Archives

Georgia Supreme Court Strikes Down Noneconomic Damages Cap on Malpractice Awards

The Georgia Supreme Court in a unanimous opinion issued last week held that the state's $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases violates the right to a jury trial that the Georgia Constitution guarantees. Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery v. Nestlehutt, 2010 WL 1004996 (Mar. 22, 2010). Georgia is the latest state supreme court to overrule a damages cap on constitutional grounds.

Fee Sharing Contract Between Lawyers Does Not Create Contractual Liability of Recipient Lawyer to Referring Lawyer

In May of 2000, attorney, William J. Blondell, was retained by certain clients (the Corbins) to pursue a possible medical malpractice claim in connection with a missed breast cancer diagnosis due to a misread of a mammogram study. On January 23, 2003, Blondell filed a claim against the physician. He subsequently referred the case to another attorney, Diane M. Littlepage. The client endorsed an "Acknowledgment and Consent to Fee-Sharing Agreement," which stated that Blondell and Littlepage would share in any fee based upon the "anticipated division of services to be rendered," that Littlepage would assume "primary responsibility" for prosecuting the Corbins' claims, and that Blondell would act as "co-counsel," performing services "as requested" by Littlepage.

United States Supreme Court Determines that Attorneys are Debt Relief Agencies and More...

In 2005, the Bankruptcy Code was overhauled by Congress in what is known as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act ("BAPCPA"). BAPCPA brought with it many changes, aiming to make it more difficult for people to eliminate debt entirely in a Chapter 7 case and forcing many debtors to pay back a portion of their debt in a Chapter 13 reorganization. One of the big changes BAPCPA brought about was the classification that attorneys offering bankruptcy assistance for a fee be considered "Debt Relief Agencies". In the case of Milavetz v. United States, The Supreme Court has held that Attorneys who provide bankruptcy assistance are in fact debt relief agencies. As a result of this classification, bankruptcy attorneys are required to disclose in their advertising that they are a debt relief agency helping people to file bankruptcy under the bankruptcy code. In addition, this classification also restricts the ability of a debt relief agent to advise their clients to incur more debt in contemplation of filing bankruptcy. The Supreme Court has held that in practice, the type of advice that is restricted in bankruptcy will generally consist of advice to "load up" on debt with the expectation of obtaining its discharge through the bankruptcy.

Unnecessary Stenting May Be More Common Than We Thought

By now, many people are familiar with the news that a cardiologist at St. Joseph's Hospital in Towson, Maryland has been accused of inserting coronary artery stents that were not medically necessary, exposing hundreds of his patients to harm from long-term use of blood thinners and the risk of the possibility of heart attack or stroke. St. Joseph's recently sent letters to Dr. Mark Midei's patients, alerting them to the possbility that the stents placed in their hearts were unnecessary.

Minnesota Jury Awards $23.2 Million in Negligent Delivery of Baby

In what is considered to be the largest award of damages in a medical malpractice case in Minnesota, and one of the largest in the United States, a jury has awarded $23.2 million on February 11, 2010to themother of a baby who suffered serious permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy during her birth.

Baltimore City Jury Awards Two Women $123,000 for Illegal Strip Search

As reported by the Baltimore Sun today, on March 1, 2010, a Baltimore City jury awarded more than $123,000 to two women illegally stripped searched at a Brooklyn bar after Baltimore Police Sgt. Allen Adkins allegedly falsefied evidence to make it appear as if the women were dealing drugs out of the bar. A multi-count lawsuit was filed by Jennell and Shaketa Causey alleging false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, battery, negligence and other civil violations. Jennell Causey was awarded $90,000. Her sister, Shaketa, received $34,000.

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