Sunday, August 26, 2007

Little League World Series

I just finished watching the final game of the Little League World Series. The final game was a dramatic win by Georgia over Japan, 3-2 in eight innings, with the game ending on a "walk-off" home run. I watched quite a few games in the tournament. I find the LLWS one of the best sports events of the year. Truly enjoyable, for a lot of reasons. Here are a few:

1. The kids (11 and 12 year olds) play great. The pitchers are excellent, but not so overpowering that there is no hitting. In fact, there are plenty of hits, and home runs, but most impressively, the fielding is outstanding. Check out this one....

2. The sportsmanship, by both kids and parents, is always on a high level. I know this is not always the case with Little League baseball, and I've personally observed some atrocious behavior at Little League games. However, the teams that make it to the TV level show only the best things about organized kids baseball.

3. The managers are wired for sound, so you can hear them talking to the players. When a manager visits a pitcher on the mound, or when he talks to a hitter before an at bat, you are right there. Most of the time, they say exactly the right thing.

4. The teams are from actual towns. The team from Georgia was not an all-star team from the State of Georgia. They were the best players from the Warner Robins (a town in Georgia) Little League. ALL the teams are like that. All the players know each other well, they go to school together, and live near each other.

5. They use top announcers and have top technical coverage. The final game today had Brent Mussberger, Orel Hershiser and Dusty Baker as announcers. They analyzed the game like it was a real game, because it WAS a real game. The instant replays and features are top notch too. It's even OK when they show the Mom's and Dad's being nervous in the stands.

6. When the players come up, not only do they show their stats, they tell you who their favorite major leaguer is, or their favorite TV show, or their favorite food. They should do that with the major leaguers.

7. When they change pitchers, they don't call in someone from the bullpen. They call in the left fielder or the second baseman, and the departing pitcher goes and plays a position.

Here are highlights from the championship game

8. OK, it's kinda sad when the losing team is crying. When you watch the games, you know that both teams are trying so hard, that the losing team HAS to cry. Note to anyone who is bothered by this.....they'll get over it. They may not know it at that moment, but they are all winners.

Welcome to Weasel-Dom

Dear faithful blog readers - Entering Weasel-Dom has caused the longest hiatus of my blogging career. Sorry for the delay...... here is what happens in Weasel-dom.....

A few years ago, the lower courts were flooded with these cases. Many cases engender motion practice. In Queens, for example, the motion calendar has approximately 150 motions every day!! There are so many motions that a separate part was created just for the motions. This is the real weasel-dom habitat. These motions are usually about some technical detail.....for the claimants trying to win the case on a technicality (if they had to win on the merits they'd not start a lot of these cases). Defense motions are also trying to knock the plaintiff case out on some technical grounds, so they don't have to spend more money defending.

Wht kinds of technicalities? Here are a few.....

Was the denial notice timely served? How do you serve it? Who can you serve it on? What must it say? What can it not say?

What if the claimant is a medical corporation, but the doctor files the claim? What if the doctor is under indictment? What if the papers assigning the claim from the patient to the doctor were in the name of the medical corporation?

Does the doctor have to attend a deposition if the insurance company wants it? What if they want it on EVERY case, large and small? What if the doctor sends a billing clerk to the deposition? What if the plaintiff wants to depose the claims examiner?

Can a plaintiff combine all his claims with many patients arising out of the same accident, and make one larger case against the same insurance company?

For awhile, the courts were so inundated with motions that they were giving one year adjournment on any motion where one side requested time to respond. I observed that this did not slow the onslaught of motions at all.

The "trial" side of the calendar is also backing up the lower courts. In some ways, this part of the system works, as many of the cases do settle. Still the calendar is huge, and one sometimes wonders why they cannot be settled pre-court. Of course, it is possible that many cases ARE settled pre-court, and we are only seeing the leftovers in court.

The most interesting no-fault cases are the ones with a "fraud" defense. In these cases, the insurance company smells a rat (or a weasel) and investigates a group of claims. I am aware of a case where the "patient" had been in 8 accidents in a 6 month period, and was treated at several different facilities. Not only that, but when the insurance companies investigated further, they found ten other people in the same apartment building with a similar history. I guess they all had bad luck.

Anyway, if anyone would like to come on a tour of Weasel-dom, just e-mail me and I will arrange it.

Now.....I can blog about some other things.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

New Weasel-dom

I know.....everyone has had their seatbelts fastened, waiting for the trip to New Weasel-dom. Sorry for the delay, but I actually spent a few mornings in New Weasel-dom this week, getting good and weaseled up. Unfortunately, it was not conducive to the writing process, so today I crawled out of the hole, and's off to New Weasel-dom

The New Weasel-dom is "no-fault" litigation. Let me start with a disclaimer and a WARNING: I am going to give the cynical (though all too real) version of what happens. I recognize that sometimes, people really ARE hurt, and are treated by REAL doctors, and represented by REAL lawyers, and those cases are really interesting. Most of the cases in the courthouse are related to accidents and injuries, and I would not call them Weasel-dom......a hyena and vulture convention maybe, but that's another blog entry. New Weasel-dom is that small section of the car accident cases, the "no-fault" medical bills aspect.

Let's look at the most common scenario, and talk about what happens, factually and legally:

1. There is a car accident.

2. It's POSSIBLE someone got hurt.

3. There are insurance companies for both cars.

4. There are "doctors", "lawyers", and accident participants who want to make money.

5. There are laws and rules regarding who is entitled to get paid, and how much, when there is a car accident.

6. If there are a lot of claims being made, at some point insurance companies start to try to draw the line and defend themselves.

OK, so there are laws covering this stuff, and they apply to the real cases too, but their application on the marginal cases creates no-fault Weasel-dom. There are thousands of these marginal weasel-y cases in the system. You may wonder, why are doctors and lawyers filing these thousands of marginal cases? For the same reason that dogs lick their balls.....
















..........BECAUSE THEY CAN!!!!!

I would try to spare you the legal technicalities, but bear with me, New Weasel-dom is more fun with a little legal knowlege.

I only know the basics anyway....if I claimed to be an expert, you'd have the right to call me a weasel. I only want to tell you about Weasel-dom, I don't want to actually join.

The law: when there is a car accident, there are certain things which are paid by the insurance for the vehicle the injured person is in. These things include reasonable medical expenses, medications, diagnostic tests, therapies, transportation to medical treatment, and the like. It includes chiropractic, accupuncture, and psychologists. It includes lots of tests (x-rays, MRI, CT scans, EMG). You don't have to wait for a case to be "decided" as far as who was at fault in the accident. These things are paid by the "host" vehicle, the car the injured person was in, regardless of whose fault the accident was. Hence the term "no-fault".

Like many things, there were good intentions behind the "no-fault" system. The idea was, people who are hurt should not have to hold off needed treatment, while a case is being decided. This apparently used to happen. Many states now have a no-fault system, and injured people can get treated quickly, and the insurance has to pay for it. At the same time no-fault systems came in, many States also adopted a serious injury "threshold", essentially limiting monetary recovery to the so-called serious cases. One paradox arising out of this, is that the way to establish a serious injury is with as many tests and as much treatment as you can get, and so to some extent, meeting the serious injury threshold is often driven by pounding on the no-fault system.

How much treatment can someone get? When can they get it? How long can it go on? The standard is "reasonably necessary". For many years the insurance companies could not even challenge the reasonable-ness for 90 days. If you were an unscrupulous canine testicle slurper, what would you do with a system like that? You'd open "medical centers" and take every minor fender bender you could bring in, and give each "patient" as much treatment as you could think of, over and over and over again. This would often include MRI's, physical therapy, exams with orthopaedists and neurologists, dentists (for "TMJ") and even psych evaluations. Ever wonder why your auto insurance costs so much? It was common practice for the medical providers to not even send in their bills until the 89th day. A few years ago, the 90 days was reduced by statute to 30 days, which helped a bit, but the beat still goes on. You can still treat after 30 days, but the insurance company can contest the reasonableness, and other aspects of the bills.

OK....we are not IN New Weasel-dom yet, but we are getting there. When the insurance companies start contesting, a whole bunch of laws and rules apply. A whole lot of money is at stake, not on each particular case, but collectively. The system of contesting this stuff, and the intricacies and nuances of the law, and the economics of it all, has spawned an entire industry. If you can bear it, in my next post I will tell all about it....