The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog shines a light on something that is more than just medical malpractice. It is criminal enterprise. This story concerns a physician and snake-oil saleswoman, all in the same person, who took advantage of the desperation of patients with advanced cancer by selling them an expensive “herbal remedy” that she surely knew would work only to line her pockets with cash.
The WSJ Law Blog also reports on the big dust up in south Florida over a new website called “ whocanisue.com .” Many find it crass and distasteful, perhaps because of the ads on billboards and bus shelters promoting it, which feature a lawyer slipping on a banana peel. The name of the site does not exactly inspire love and respect, either. And, according to WSJ and a local Florida paper referenced in its post, some of the people most offended by the site are other Florida lawyers who feel that it degrades the entire profession.
One of the issues addressed in the WSJ post is that the site is not subject to attorney discipline, since it is only a “referral” service. And that’s a valid point. But my concern is, given how successful the site is in drawing in business, according to the press about it, shouldn’t there be some vetting of the firms that advertise on the site? For instance, checking that the attorney: is licensed in the state; has not been the subject of repeated disciplinary action by the state bar; does not have a history of misrepresenting his services to potential clients (i.e., the lawyer promises his individual attention to your case, but hands it off for a percentage of the anticipated fee as soon as he signs you up); and actually has experience in the specialty area he claims expertise in.
Getting back to the more ennobling aspects of lawyering, my Twitter friend, Bill Marler (@bmarler if you want to follow him, which I recommend) delivered shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Put a Trial Lawyer Out of Business” to the Senate earlier this week in an effort to call attention to the need for better food safety regulations, according to the Mass Tort Litigation Blog . Bill was prominently featured in last week’s New York Times article on the devestating effects of E. coli on a children’s dance instructor who ate contaminated hamburger meat. She is now paralyzed from the waist down as a result.
And yes, you can thank a “trial lawyer” like Bill Marler for forcing the hamburger manufacturers to do what they should have been doing all along with regard to food safety, since such arcane concepts as “caring enough not to poison those who eat your product” seem so elusive to such companies, until they stand to lose profits to a lawsuit.