'WHEN PLUNDER BECOMES A WAY OF LIFE FOR MEN IN A SOCIETY, OVER THE COURSE OF TIME THEY WILL CREATE FOR THEMSELVES A LEGAL SYSTEM THAT AUTHORIZES IT AND A MORAL CODE THAT GLORIFIES IT'.
Bastiat wrote this in 1848 and it rings as true today as it ever did.
Neoliberalism is the name of the contemporary system of plunder:
My campaign and indeed my non-profit Citizens Oversight Maryland.com is all about restoring Rule of Law and Equal Protection for labor and justice. Below you see a questionnaire from a group of lawyers who have a job trying to protect and seek justice for citizens. Now, trial lawyers are not the good guys in the legal system as they are working for profits themselves and come away with the bulk of money earned. When the public has no State or US Attorney General's office working to protect them as is the case today-----trial lawyers are the last line of defense and they are under attack. What is important here are the issues of accountability and avenues of justice for the public whether it be seeking damages individually or in class action lawsuits. Across the nation neo-liberals and neo-cons are eliminating the ability of people coming together in class action lawsuits. Why did no public justice occur in these massive financial frauds?
THERE ARE CAPS ON DAMAGE AWARDS SO LOW AS TO MAKE THEM USELESS IN FUTURE DETERRENCE. ALL JUSTICE WAS AIMED AT PRIVATE SHAREHOLDER JUSTICE AND NOT INDIVIDUAL JUSTICE. MARYLAND IS ONE OF THE WORSE ENVIRONMENTS FOR THESE CAPS AND NO AVENUE FOR PUBLIC JUSTICE.
So, you know you do not have democrats in office if corporations are protected from public justice. ALL MARYLAND POLS ARE NEO-LIBERALS.
Make no mistake, class action lawsuits in the past have had awards that are far too onerous. These stiff awards do force corporations to change bad practices though.
Let's look at the questions to see how Maryland laws are taking away all avenues for citizens to seek public justice. Keep in mind that Labor union lawyers should be working with these public justice trial lawyers to fight the dismantling of all labor/public protection laws.
Also, failure of the trial lawyers to mention TPP again fails to educate the people as to the real gorilla in the room.
Cindy Walsh for Governor of Maryland
Response to Maryland Association for Justice questionnaire:
Below you see a good explanation of a strong labor law. These lawyers are sounding an alarm that the future of this vital health care law is threatened. Please look at what these trial lawyers describe as the issues surrounding Worker's Compensation and then look at how I widen the issue to look at how TPP will make all labor law like this one disappear.
The Workers' Compensation System was established almost 100 years ago to provide compensation to workers injured in connection with their employment. It is an exclusive remedy for compensation, that is, the worker may not sue his employer or a fellow employee for injuries sustained in the course of the worker's employment. As consideration for not being able to sue the employer or fellow employee for injuries they may have caused, the worker is to receive compensation for lost time from work, compensation for temporary or permanent disability, appropriate and timely medical care, and, when needed, rehabilitation services. The award of these various benefits is provided under the auspices of the Workers' Compensation Commission which hears all contested cases. The amounts and extent of the benefits are prescribed by law, and the Commission renders awards based on its determination of the nature and extent of the worker's injury and disability. The system is designed and intended to provide the injured worker a simplified process to provide an expeditious adjudication of the claim, including the right to receive prompt and appropriate medical attention to maximize the recovery. Under Maryland law, an employee who is injured on the job and whose injuries are determined to be compensable is entitled to certain benefits, especially medical treatment. Medical care by a provider of the worker's own choice is one of the most important benefits provided under the statute. This benefit helps effectuate a major cornerstone of the public policy that underlies the worker compensation system — that the injured worker receives prompt, appropriate medical care in order to maximize the degree and speed of recovery. Only when the injured worker can independently choose his or her own health care provider will the worker have confidence in the diagnosis and treatment plan, which in turn will lead to a quicker recovery and earlier return to work. However, in recent years there have been a number of bills introduced that, if enacted, would have delayed the injured worker's access to appropriate and timely medical care. Among these proposals was a bill to establish an arbitrary 30 day limit on a physician’s ability to dispense medication to his/her patients if they are being treated for work related injuries. The effect of such proposal would be to delay the ability to obtain medication in a timely and appropriate manner. Other bills could delay the ability of a worker to receive needed timely medical care, thus reducing the chances of a maximum recovery from the injuries.
Other initiatives are designed to embarrass the employee, add delay and expense to the workers’ compensation claims process
As a lifelong professional working in many fields of medicine and health care and as a social/political justice activist I work hard to make sure all labor and justice laws are not only protected, but enforced. My website Citizens Oversight Maryland.com is a testament to this. Labor law has been under attack in Maryland for decades whether through schemes such as public contract bidding that allows subcontracting to subcontractors, or immigrant labor openly being fleeced of wages and having no workplace protections, and categorization of employees as independent contractors when legally they are simply employees…..all of these practices seek to circumvent labor law. Legal challenges to these circumvention techniques need to happen to eliminate this culture of impunity as regards profiting from failure to enforce labor law. To what you are speaking is actual legislation designed to cut into more areas of labor protection and indeed, I would , as governor fight all dismantling of New Deal and labor union contracts and labor law. If we look at this move against Worker’s Compensation, we see these bills tied to health care reform that seeks to end all public health programs and protections as the Affordable Care Act seeks to deregulate and consolidate the health industry just as done with the banking industry. Working towards the goal of ending worker’s health protections is the recent signing of the Trans Pacific Trade agreement (TPP) that has the US lobbying hard to end all public health subsidy and regulations that would limit health industry profit. This is the tie to these Maryland Assembly bills. Labor in the US must be susceptible to labor laws in all nations signing this trade deal and as we know, it is the US that will shed labor protections to meet developing world standards. So, the biggest fight is against TPP and its enactment. If I were lawyers working for public justice I would be taking these TPP deals to court as illegal and an assault against the US Constitution because they do indeed end WE THE PEOPLE AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS. All of which is necessary for your organization of lawyers to do your work.
JOIN ME IN SHOUTING OUT AGAINST TPP AND ACKNOWLEGE THAT THESE DEALS ARE ILLEGAL AND AN ASSAULT ON US CONSTITUTION.
Questions 1 and 2.
CINDY WALSH FOR GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND will oppose all laws affecting an employee’s rights to worker’s compensation and access to prompt and immediate care. I would oppose allowing an employer to take depositions at hearing level and unbridled access to worker’s complete medical and personal history.
CIVIL IMMUNITY FOR WRONGDOERS
The Maryland General Assembly has power to grant immunity from civil liability. Every year politically powerful or popular special interest groups pursue legislation designed to grant them full or limited immunity from being held financially responsible for the consequences of negligent or careless conduct. The immunity is sought without any consideration of the nature of the duty violated by the wrongdoer or the severity of the injury and harm it has caused the victim. Efforts to secure the protection of immunity are often presented in the context of a class of persons whose professions or jobs provide services for the public good. The advocates ignore the facts that these people: are well compensated in their professions; are public employees who owe the highest standard of care to others; are multimillion dollar corporations; or a myriad of other factors. In many instances, such legislation is requested without any evidence of a need for civil immunity and simply on the grounds that there would be "no harm" in granting immunity to this or that special interest. MAJ opposes legislative grants of civil immunity because they represent an improper exercise of governmental power to the benefit of a politically powerful or popular constituency at the expense of victims of negligence and misconduct. MAJ believes that the judicial system is equipped to deliver justice on a case-by-case basis, without the need for legislative grants of 4immunity. In recent years, MAJ publicly has opposed immunity legislation designed to protect doctors, corporations, and even lawyers.
Cindy Walsh for Governor of Maryland response:
Civil Immunity for Wrongdoers
I have a non-profit dedicated to political and public justice so it is clear that I am with Maryland Association for Justice on Equal Protection and Rule of Law requiring enforcement and prosecution for white collar crime and government corruption. My contention for the last decade of massive corporate fraud and corruption is that when a government suspends Rule of Law, it suspends Statutes of Limitation. We cannot abide being told that because elected officials chose not to enforce law that all crime is forgiven. This does not even make sense.
Criminal Immunity for wrongdoers is what we see happening when the US Justice Department makes all of these criminal settlements as civil cases with no admission of guilt. Indeed, even the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that is supposed to be the consumer’s advocate immediately adopted the Justice Department’s policy of civil charges only with no admission of guilt. You are aware that no laws were written on the Federal level or by the State of New York defining fraud in a way to be more easily prosecuted…..this is true in Maryland as well. Maryland actually went so far as to change the Statutes of Limitation for fraud only for the public down to 3 years from 5. Corporations still have 10 years to seek justice for frauds against them. Take as well US Congress just passing a law that protects Congressional politicians from charges of insider trading after the exposure of dozens of cases that identified these politicians. So, this attempt at Civil Immunity as well just takes this one step further. The US Constitution guarantees Rule of Law and Equal Protection to all citizens. Interpretations of what that mean always distinguish between Rule by Law and Rule of Law…..Rule of Law meaning all citizens not matter their status are bound by all laws of the land. Equal Protection is clear as well. So, it seems we need to be taking these violations to the Supreme Court and if the Court chooses to re-write the Constitution rather than interpret it, we have illegal actions by the Court. This follows the illegality of TPP. Maryland Association for Justice need to partner with labor union legal teams to fight this overt attempt to re-write the US Constitution. I will as governor use the office as a bully-pulpit for just this.
Cindy Walsh would oppose all legislation to grant immunity from civil liability to a politically powerful or popular constituency, thereby closing the courthouse doors forever to the victims of negligent or careless conduct.
Maryland is only one of four (4) states that holds firm to an English law doctrine that completely denies compensation to an injured person if they were responsible to the slightest degree for their own injuries. For example, if a speeding drunk driver loses control of his car and runs over a young man riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the road, the doctrine of "contributory negligence" would relieve the speeding drunk driver of any responsibility for the cost of the young man's hospitalizations, treatments, surgeries and therapies. Forty-six (46) U.S. states have abandoned the outdated English Common Law doctrine, as has England itself! These states employ the concept of "comparative negligence," whereby the jury is permitted to take account of the relative fault of the parties in awarding compensation to the injured person.
I would support legislation to replace Maryland’s contributory negligence law with comparative negligence.
MOTOR VEHICLE LAW - PUNITIVE DAMAGES
Punitive damages, an amount awarded above and beyond the actual damages of the injured person, historically have been imposed to "punish" a person who has acted outrageously in injuring someone. It serves as a deterrent to others. When a person or corporation destroys someone's life and health or depletes a pension fund through fraud, punitive damages also serve to warn that there are financial consequences for this behavior. A Maryland Court of Appeals decision has overturned prior law, is much more restrictive than U.S. Supreme Court requirements, and severely limits punitive damages. Punitive damages may only be given when the plaintiff can prove the defendant intended to hurt that particular plaintiff. In the case of a drunken driver with past convictions who gets behind the wheel of a car and then careens into the opposite lane of traffic killing a young family, there can be no punitive damages. Despite the drunk driver's outrageous and dangerous behavior, he cannot be punished through punitive damages.
Motor Vehicle Law – Punitive Damages
I do of course think it more important to pursue your comments regarding a Maryland Court of Appeals decision to overturn prior law as regards punitive damages by person or corporation. The use of the word intent rather than a strong definition of this crime mirrors the corporate fraud language of intent with no strong definition of fraud.
THIS IS A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT TO MAKE PROSECUTIONS AND AWARDS HARDER FOR THE PUBLIC TO ATTAIN.
Punitive damages must be defined clearly so as to allow for conviction. We want to note that the Maryland Court of Appeals has been staffed with corporate-friendly judges as we see these kinds of rulings all too often. Governor O’Malley has appointed almost half of this court just within his terms. This should be reason to want someone progressive in the office of Governor as the next round of appointments will occur in these 8 years no doubt.
I would support a bill that would allow a jury punitive damages to punish drunk or drugged drivers.
Under Common Law, vendors of alcoholic beverages could not be held liable for the acts of intoxicated or underage customers. Through case law and statutes, most States have carved out exceptions to this Common Law principal in the form of “Dram Shop” laws. These laws allow a person to sue an alcoholic beverages licensee such as a restaurant, bar or liquor store for damages incurred as a result of a patron’s intoxication. While the majority of States do have Dram Shop laws, Maryland does not. In 2010, William and Angela Warr filed suit in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County against JMGM Group, LLC, the corporate owner of a Tavern, the Dog Fish Head Ale House, for injuries they and their daughter sustained in a car accident and for the death of their other daughter. The car that struck the Warrs’ vehicle was driven by Michael Eaton, whom was improperly served by Dogfish Head Ale House while he was visibly intoxicated. Mr. Eaton had consumed 17 beers and several other alcoholic drinks given him by the bartender at Dog Fish Head Ale House. The Warrs maintained that Dog Fish Head had breached its duty to them not to furnish alcohol to an obviously and visibly intoxicated person and therefore was liable for damages. The trial court determined that the case could not proceed to trial because Maryland does not have a Dram Shop liability law. The Warrs sought review of the decision in the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court stating that the determination as whether to change the Common Law and impose liability on an alcoholic beverages licensee for damages caused by serving a visibly intoxicated patron involves public policy considerations that are best left to the General Assembly. A majority of States have adopted Dram Shop laws that impose liability where a licensed establishment serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated individual or an individual under the legal drinking age.
Again, the important issue is liability laws just as the previous question deals with the definition of intent. The point is these descriptions of intent and liability go far beyond these smaller individual questions regarding motor vehicle or dram shop law.
IT SPEAKS TO THE PUBLIC'S INABILITY TO SEEK AND OBTAIN JUSTICE IN ALL OF THESE CORPORATE FRAUD AND CORRUPTION CASES INVOLVING INTENT AND LIABILITY.
Regarding Dram Shop law specifically, I feel strongly that a bar or restaurant know it is their responsibility to send patrons home long before they become too drunk to drive. Profit from abusive drinking is NOT OK. This law can extend to gambling as well as casinos are famous for plying free drinks on patrons just so they will bet and lose more money.
Yes, I would support a bill creating responsibility for restaurant owners and bars when serving alcohol to an individual visibly too intoxicated to drive.
Maryland Law caps the amount of money that plaintiffs may recover for non-economic damages otherwise known as pain and suffering. Currently the cap on non-economic damages is $785,000.00 and increases by $15,000.00 each year. The cap on medical malpractice non-economic damages is currently $725,000.00. Unlike many other States, Maryland does not allow the recovery of punitive damages even in circumstances of gross negligence. The vast majority of the country goes much further to protect the catastrophically injured. Thirty States and the District of Columbia either have no caps on catastrophically injured victims or have adopted a tiered system with increased caps for those most seriously injured. The Maryland Association for Justice strongly supports legislation that would bring Maryland more in line with the vast majority of jurisdictions across the country in adopting a higher cap for the most catastrophically injured Marylanders. Recently, legislation was introduced to allow those that have suffered death, permanent impairment through spinal cord injury, amputation of significant appendages, severe brain damage, total blindness or severe burns over the majority of a victim’s body to collect up to 3 times the existing cap. This legislation only raises the cap for Marylanders who were killed or suffered the most catastrophic injuries. Raising the cap for only the most severely injured victims will help to more fairly compensate victims and their survivors.
Yes, I would support a bill raising the cap on non-economic damage for those most seriously and catastrophically injured.
Thirty-two States have modified the Common Law by enacting a statute that imposes strict liability for any dog bite, including a first bite under specified circumstances. Typical exceptions to strict liability include provocation of the dog and trespassing or commission of a tort or crime. Maryland remains in the minority in that Maryland requires a dog bite victim to prove either general negligence on the part of the dog owner or the victim must prove that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities. This burden often leaves many dog bite victims without any recovery or compensation.
I had a conversation today with a community member about this very issue. I idea of whether a single dog breed can be inherently more dangerous than another is for me a non-issue. The environment in which a dog lives will determine much of its behavior and the laws regarding dogs on leashes unless in a fenced property are good enough. Why would a dog owner whose dog is running loose not be responsible for costs of damages to the victim. IT SEEMS OBVIOUS THAT THE OWNER WOULD.
That's where Maryland's aversion to intent and liability come into play. Even this dog bite law reflects the unwillingness of a corporate Maryland Assembly to give way for compensation because it might expand to corporate responsibilities for intent and liability for damages as well.
So, whether damages come from a single issue like dog bites or it comes from massive corporate fraud.....the Maryland laws deny the public benefit of damages and it is the individual citizen that suffers costs from these crimes.
Yes, I support a bill that would make dog owners responsible for the conduct of their dogs.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE — INTRODUCTION
Medical malpractice has been a subject of legislative scrutiny over the past ten years, both in Maryland and nationally. A number of facts not in dispute with respect to medical malpractice in Maryland are set forth briefly here: Medical malpractice is about real people with real injuries. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine estimated that preventable hospital errors kill as many as 98,000 Americans every year, enough to fill Arlington National Cemetery every 4 years. Newer estimates put the number of deaths due to preventable hospitals errors between 235,000 and 400,000 per year which would make malpractice the third leading cause of death in America. Maryland already enacted reforms that eliminated "frivolous" malpractice actions. Before a medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed in court in Maryland, the plaintiff must file a certificate of a qualified expert, who has reviewed the records and who attests that the defendant's negligence caused the plaintiffs injuries. This "certificate of merit" requirement effectively screens out meritless cases. In 2004, the President and CEO of the Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society, the largest medical malpractice insurer in Maryland, admitted in his testimony before the Senate that Maryland does not have a problem with frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits, largely crediting the certificate of merit requirement. Maryland enacted even more stringent tort reform during a Special Session. In December 2004, a Special Session of the Maryland General Assembly was convened to deal with the issue of medical malpractice. The General Assembly enacted legislation that froze the cap on medical malpractice non-economic damages generally, and substantially lowered the damage cap applicable to malpractice wrongful death claims. In addition, the General Assembly added stricter qualification requirements for physicians who testify in medical malpractice cases, limited the ability of plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to recover their medical expenses, and imposed additional procedural requirements in Taking away patients' rights does not improve the quality of our health care system or produce cost savings. Although State government has made numerous changes in the law limiting the rights of injured patients, these legal restrictions have done nothing to improve our health care system, reduce unnecessary costs, or help people harmed by medical malpractice.
FIVE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE QUESTIONS FOLLOW:
I. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY
Despite the admission by the CEO of the State's largest liability insurer of physicians that frivolous malpractice actions already have been eliminated in Maryland, there are those who wish to enact additional laws stripping away the rights of injured patients. One such proposal for change is the establishment of special "health courts" where patients would have to prove their cases before panels of physicians or "specially trained" judges.
II MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - PATIENT CARE
Persons injured by medical malpractice may require specialized medical care and treatment -- care not always provided by every doctor or hospital or nursing home in the state. Maryland law allows a plaintiff to recover his or her reasonable medical expenses, including the costs of reasonably necessary specialized care, and including the costs of such care reasonably likely to be needed in the future.
III. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - ACCESSTO THE COURT
The Maryland Association for Justice strongly believes that those who cause injury to others should be responsible for said injuries. However, bills have been introduced to take birth related neurological injuries out of the tort system and create a No Fault Birth Injury Fund that would preclude the infant, parents, dependents or next of kin from bringing a claim for damages related to the infant’s injury. Instead, the tort system would be replaced with a No Fault Birth Injury Fund where the amounts eligible to the infant and his/her family would be greatly limited to far less than can currently be awarded through the tort system and where negligent health care providers would not be held accountable for the harm they caused.
IV. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - ACCESS TO A RECOVERY
Historically, when an injured party prevails in court he or she is entitled to receive the award of compensation in a single lump sum. Over the past few years, however, legislation has been introduced that would empower malpractice insurance carriers to choose to pay out court ordered awards of compensation over the victim's projected lifetime under a fixed payment schedule by way of an annuity contract. Such "compelled structured judgment" schemes place upon the victim's shoulders the risk that the money awarded by the court for future care will not be available as needed.
V. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - GENERAL OUTLOOK
In our experience, some legislators simply favor protecting health care providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) from lawsuits over protecting the rights of injured patients
The Affordable Care Act seeks to deregulate and consolidate the health industry in what mirrors the Clinton-era bank consolidation all to create global health systems that will be as profit-driven and predatory as banks. When this health reform seeks to standardize the care given a patient and/or limit access to care through a tiered system with winners and losers……when a doctor becomes an employee of this health system with a direction to maximize profit or is held to a bolus of money per health incident……the Hippocratic oath is gone. A doctor will no longer be able to be held accountable for malpractice because now he/she has this Federal guideline telling him/her to fall into line.
THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WILL ELIMINATE ANY ABILITY BY THE PUBLIC TO SEEK JUSTICE FOR MALPRACTICE BECAUSE A DOCTOR WILL NO LONGER BE ACTING INDEPENDENTLY IN DECISION-MAKING.
This is really bad public policy. The American Medical Association has a responsibility to remove physicians from practice once they have demonstrated a pattern of neglect of duties. The AMA like other professional groups given the right to oversee misconduct have failed to ever exercise this duty and this is why malpractice and malpractice insurance is high. Indeed, there are class action suits on patients’ behalf that are too generous and that needs to be looked at as well. Public justice in medical malpractice is needed now more than ever as health reform moves to lower access and quality of care. Maryland does make all ability to pursue medical malpractice and indeed medical fraud hard and impossible and medical fraud is rampant in Maryland. As we saw recently with the St Joseph’s heart procedure fraud, the entire corporation had to bear the brunt of this malpractice because of these laws. What happened as a consequence? UMMS consolidated this community hospital into what are becoming fewer health choices in Maryland.
I would support the right to trial by jury over the establishment of special health courts.
I would oppose a bill that would limit the rights of victims of medical malpractice to recover the costs of reasonably necessary specialized care.
I would oppose a No Fault Birth Injury Fund
I would oppose a bill designed to force a plaintiff into an award schedule.
As a proponent for Expanded and Improved Medicare for All and a strong public health advocate and public justice advocate I will fight to preserve quality health care for all and for the people’s ability to seek justice when injured from malfeasance.
Get involved and/or create an organization like the one below. The ACLU has now been taken from many justice issues because they are funded by people not wanting this civil liberties group to seek important liberties issues. So, we need to create our own organizations and this group has the right idea.
WE DO NOT HAVE A DEMOCRACY AND WE DO NOT HAVE OUR US CONSTITUTION IF RULE OF LAW AND EQUAL PROTECTIONS ARE IGNORED!
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is working tirelessly with grassroots activists around the country to restore civil liberties and constitutional rights—but we can’t do it without you. To build a grassroots movement capable of restoring your rights, Americans of all walks of life, from every part of the country, must stand together.
Here are just a few ways you can raise your voice:
- Local civil rights restoration campaigns: Dozens of cities and towns across the country are organizing to restore constitutional protections at the local level, where We the People still have a voice. We mobilize and support these civil rights restoration campaigns to bring people together from across the political spectrum in defense of our shared American values. Every one of these campaigns started with one person ready to take action. Will you be the next?
- Campaigns to restore due process and the right to trial: On the last day of 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which could give the government unchecked power to indefinitely imprison Americans in military detention without trial. But communities across the country are fighting back with local resolutions affirming due process and the right to trial.
- Restore accountability for torture: Government officials who authorized and committed torture continue to enjoy power and prestige, free from any investigation or prosecution for crimes far worse than those that have packed our nation’s prisons. Allowing torturers to go free only invites more torture in the future. In early 2012, Chicago became our nation’s first “torture free zone.” Could your town be next?
- Volunteer your time: BORDC offers a variety of opportunities to help build the movement: you can write for our blog, develop civil liberties lesson plans for classes from kindergarten to college, join a local campaign, conduct online research, or host a fundraiser or educational event. Get started today!
Looking forward to working with you!
National Field Organizer
Grassroots Campaign Coordinator
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
8 Bridge Street, Suite A, Northampton, MA 01060