From Dr. Thomas Novinger: “I just wanted to send you a note concerning a check for $1.32 I recently received. I believe that my friends the attorneys at Heffler, Radetich & Saitta sent it to me to make me feel better about the $4000 I lost when Centocor stock crashed a few years ago. The travesty propagated by the legal profession in its efforts to protect us from ourselves and enrich themselves in the process scares and saddens me.

“I know that this issue is near and dear to your heart (I purchased and read your recent book), so I wanted to pass along my little story.

“Where will this litigation nightmare end? My colleagues and I think about being sued every day and to say the least it affects how we interact with our patients and how we manage them. Recently we asked a family to find another practice to care for their children because they are suing us. (We waited 12 months after they filed). Apparently they saw no problem with continuing with the same physicians they were suing. They look upon suing physicians with the same perspective as picking up some groceries after work.

“I’m sorry to digress. I know that medical malpractice reform is a different ball of wax from the securities litigation reform you were attempting in California. But they are all lawyers. And they are significantly affecting how a lot people and things interact today. And not in a positive way.”

Of course, the lawyers would argue — with some justification — that the fear of suits like the one that netted you $1.32 help to keep managements honest. And that the fear of malpractice suits does more to chasten doctors who might otherwise be careless or unprofessional than the medical profession’s own sanction procedures do.

So I don’t agree all lawyers are the same or all legal actions are unwarranted — and I know you don’t either. The problem is finding the right balance. With regard to securities litigation, Congress made a good attempt to restore some sanity to this. It passed overwhelmingly and then overrode a veto to become law. But that still leaves 50 gaping loopholes; namely, taking these actions to state court instead. Our idea in California was to try to restore balance at the state level as well. Not shut these suits off, by any means, but raise the hurdle a bit so that suits without serious grounding are not automatically brought any time there’s an earnings disappointment and a company’s stock tanks. We lost; the lawyers won. What else is new?

Click the hyperlink above for a little more on this if you’re interested.



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