Monthly Archives: January 2006

Colorado Legislature May Lend Hand to Sex Abuse Victims

The Colorado legislature is considering three bills that would expand restrictive statute of limitation laws and provide an opportunity for priest abuse victims to seek justice in the courts. Of course, Colorado’s Catholic bishops have already spoken out in opposition to these measures. According to one of the legislators, “the whole premise behind (these bills) would allow people to bring up charges even on an old incident,” said Sen. Paula Sandoval, D-Denver, who co-sponsored a house bill with Rep. Rosemary Marshall, D-Denver. The bills in question would remove the statute of limitations for victims who seek to bring criminal as well as civil claims against the perpetrators.

Bishop Gumbleton’s Resignation Predictable

In spite of the fact that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton submitted his letter of resignation on January 21, 2006-nearly a year after his 75th birthday, I can’t help but wonder if Gumbleton was forced out by the circumstances surrounding his public revelation of abuse as well as his courageous stand with victims of priest abuse. Bishop Gumbleton denied that he was forced out but it seems very coincidental that this comes on the heels of his public statements. According to Canon Law, the law which governs all church activity, a bishop must submit his resignation to the Pope upon his 75th birthday. Gumbleton did not do that. Instead, he wrote a letter to the cardinal in charge of bishops asking that he continue since his health was good. Cardinal Giovanni Re, Secretary for the Congregation of Bishops, wrote back stating that such a request was “unacceptable”. So the country loses a prophetic voice in the office of bishop. However, as Bishop Gumbleton himself pointed out, he is still a bishop and will continue to fight for peace and justice. Let’s hope we have one hundred more Bishop Gumbletons.

Florida PIP

Personal Injury Protection, also known as PIP coverage, can be a complex maze for those involved in auto accidents. Here are a few tips to remember when dealing with this type of auto insurance coverage:
According to Florida law, if you own a motor vehicle with four or more wheels you must carry $10,000 of personal injury protection insurance (PIP) and a minimum of $10,000 of property damage liability insurance. You may have a deductible of up to $2,000 for PIP coverage and $500 for Property Damage Liability.
Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance covers you regardless of whether you cause an accident (are “at-fault”) — up to the limits of the policy. PIP is designed to reduce the necessity of suing for reimbursement of medical and related bills from auto accidents. PIP pays:
— 80 percent of reasonable medical expenses
— 60 percent of lost wages
— $5,000 for death benefits
For accidents that happen in Florida, PIP covers you and relatives who live in your home, certain passengers, and others who drive your car with your permission. Pedestrians and bicyclists are also covered if they are Florida residents.
For accidents that happen outside Florida but inside the U.S. or Canada, PIP covers you and relatives who live in your home. In this case, you must be driving your own vehicle. Persons other than you or your relatives are not covered.
Property Damage Liability Insurance pays, for damage you or members of your family cause to another persons property while driving. The term “property” includes, for example, a fence, telephone pole or building, as well as another car.
Coverage applies even if you drive someone else’s car. Depending on the terms and conditions of your policy, it may also include anyone else who uses your car without your permission.

Tort Reform Antics in Tallahassee

The Daytona Beach News-Journal published an insightful editorial about joint and several liability. In part the opinion piece states,
“Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would reduce plaintiffs’ ability to recover damages after a successful lawsuit. When multiple defendants are involved, juries are asked to assign degrees of fault to each, making each defendant proportionally liable for any judgment. But if one defendant can’t pay, another might be required to cover that deficit — a practice known as “joint and several liability.”
Florida lawmakers put heavy restraints on joint and several liability in 1999, creating a complicated formula that protects businesses and governments from being named as “deep pockets” in lawsuits while recognizing that victims of carelessness or malice deserved to be compensated for their injuries. The Legislature also limited the application of joint and several liability to easily quantifiable losses, such as lost wages or medical bills.
It was a complex deal, one lawmakers fought hard to craft and that most were satisfied with. But the issue is back, and this time nobody seems to be reaching for nuance.
Instead, lawmakers want to wipe joint and several liability off law books altogether — despite any evidence that the practice has been abused, or that a more balanced approach is hurting Florida’s economy.”

FDA Sends Warning to Boston Scientific

Boston Scientific fresh off its acquisition of Guidant Corporation, has been sent a warning letter by the FDA. Federal regulators said they discovered problems in the medical device maker’s quality control. FDA officials who announced the warning involving Boston Scientific said it was only the third time in the agency’s history it has issued such a broad companywide warning involving a medical device company’s systems to identify potentially defective and unsafe products.
“We are directing them to resolve these serious violations promptly, and to do it not as it relates to specific products … but rather to do it on a corporate-wide basis,” said Daniel G. Schultz, director of the Food and Drug Administration office that regulates medical devices.
Natick-based Boston Scientific said it was cooperating with the FDA and hoped to fix the problems promptly.
Guidant spokesman Steve Tragash said his company had been aware of the issues from its due diligence talks with Boston Scientific in recent weeks.
“We do not expect this development to interfere with the progress of the pending merger between Guidant and Boston Scientific,” Tragash said.
The FDA found violations in responding to doctors’ reports about possible product defects and Boston Scientific’s reporting of quality control issues at three Boston Scientific plants the agency inspected late last summer. The FDA also said the company’s efforts to fix problems at three other sites cited in previous FDA warnings were inadequate.

Wear Your Seat Belt, The Life You Save May Be Your Own

In spite of the fact that Florida has a tough seat belt law, only 50% of drivers in the state wear seat belts. The lack of compliance with this important law has devastating consequences. Let’s look at some facts:
1) A child unrestrained in a 30 mph crash is the equivalent of that same child falling from a three story building.
2) In one survey, over 59 percent of drivers who were fatally injured were not using available restraint systems.
3) Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties are in the “Top Ten” in auto accident fatalities.
4) During a crash, properly fastened safety belts distribute the forces of rapid deceleration over larger and stronger parts of the person’s body, such as the chest, hips and shoulders. The safety belt stretches slightly to slow your body down and to increase its stopping distance.
The difference between the belted person’s stopping distance and the unbelted person’s stopping distance is significant. It’s often the difference between life and death.
So, be safe, protect your loved ones, and wear that seat belt!

Doctors Urge Ending Use of Heart Surgery Drug Trasylol

A drug used worldwide to reduce bleeding during heart surgery can increase the risk of kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes, and should be abandoned, doctors are reporting today. They say other medicines are safer and cheaper, and should be used instead. The drug, aprotinin, is sold under the brand name Trasylol and manufactured by Bayer. The report was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Lawyer Subpoenaed for Guidant Documents

An attorney suing Guidant Corporation has been ordered by the Justice Department to turn over the documents he received from the company. The subpoena, part of the federal government’s investigation into the Indianapolis-based company, requires Texas attorney Bob Hilliard to turn over handwritten notes and PowerPoint slides. He obtained them from the company during preparations for a product liability case in Texas state court.
The 10 pages include notes from Fred McCoy, president of Guidant’s cardiac rhythm management division, that show a decision was made to sell inventory the executive described as having sporadic “life-threatening” defects.
“It’s consistent, bad decisions based on profit, not patient health,” Mr. Hilliard said. “The documents I received from Guidant showed they were basically making the equivalent of the Ford Pinto.”
Guidant spokesman Steve Tragash declined to comment.