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

August 2010 Archives

Trend of State Supreme Court Review of Damage Caps Continues in West Virginia

The West Virginia Supreme Court is the latest to grant review of its state's malpractice claims cap on noneconomic loss. The state legislature enacted the law in 2003 after insurance companies complained of increasing insurance rates and claims payouts. The West Virginia cap places a $250,000 cap on pain and suffering on all cases except those involving death, loss of limb or permanent injury, which are capped at $500,000. The cap applies no matter how many plaintiffs and how many defendants are involved provided the claims arise from the same nucleus of operative facts.

Once Prominent Montgomery Co. Malpractice Lawyer Gets 5 Year Sentence for Misappropriating Client Funds

On Monday, Bradley Schwartz, a well-known Montgomery County civil litigation practitioner, received a 5 year sentence issued by Circuit Court Judge Steven G. Salant for misappropriation of more than $1 million in client funds. The sentence marks the end of a tumultuous story that involves gambling addiction, Chinese email/collection fraud well-known to the legal community, and overall poor judgment. As reported in today's Washington Post, Judge Salant called the case "a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions" and issued a sentence longer than recommended by the state guidelines. "I want to make it very clear that most of the 35,000 some-odd attorneys in the state of Maryland are very hard working men and women who are honest and ethical. . . . It hurts me to think that when the community, when the public, looks at us, they're going to be looking at what the defendant did here."

A Call to the Maryland Board of Physicians: Improve Your Reporting of Physician Malpractice

The Maryland Board of Physiciansprovides a website that lists licensed providers and provides basic information about the date of licensure, renewal, specialty, and address. It also contains a section where "Malpractice Judgments and Arbitration Awards within the past ten years," and "Malpractice Settlements (3 or more of $150,000 or greater within the past 5 years)" are to be reported to the public.

Failure to Diagnose Impending Heart Attacks Gives Rise to Highest Number of Claims Against Primary Care Physicians

A study recently published by The Physician Insurers Association (PIA) reveals that malpractice claims arising from missed heart attack diagnoses represent the third most prevalent scenario giving rise to malpractice claims, ranking only below brain damaged infantscaused by birth injuriesand missed breast cancer diagnoses as the most prevalent type of claims with the highest per incident payout by insurers.

1/3 of U.S. Doctors Say Reporting Their Incompetent Colleagues is Not Their Responsibility

In a survey taken and reported in the July 14, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), one-third of U.S. physicians surveyed reported that they do not a feel a responsiblity to report a colleague who they believed to be incompetent or impaired by substance abuse or a mental disorder.

Nevada Supreme Court the Latest to Review State Damages Cap

The Nevada Supreme Court is the latestappellate court of last resort to review its state's legislatively created cap on noneconomic damages in malpractice claims. Many health providers and business organizations are worried that thecourt will overturn the $350,000 cap and will follow the lead of several other state supreme courts who have deemed similar capsunconstitutional, including Illinois and Georgia. Their worries are partly due to the facts of the cases where the cap is being applied, and the inequitiesin the award of damages to severely injured plaintiffs.

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