Monday, April 30, 2007

Another Reason to Avoid Wal-Mart

For all the talk about how Wal-Mart destroys neighorhood wages and by failing to provide health benefits, places a burden on the local healthcare system, the fact that Wal-Mart overextends itself into areas in which it is not qualified gets barely a mention.

However, that overextension and incompetence sure got mentioned by a United States District Court jury recently. In Happel v. Wal-Mart, a husband picked up his wife's prescription for Toradol from a Wal-Mart in McHenry. The wife had several prescriptions filled at the store in the past, and Wal-Mart had documented that she is allergic to NSAIDs. Toradol is a NSAID.

Given the record of the allergy, a warning should have flashed on the pharmacist's screen warning of allergy. Further, the drug should not have been dispensed without a call to the physician.

Unfortunately, Wal-Mart complied with none of those rules and passed out the drug anyway. The result? An severe allergic reaction requiring fifteen hours of intubation, four days in the hospital, and permanent injuries.

All because a pharmacist ignored a warning on the screen.

We really don't know what the pharmacist was thinking. He was unable to testify due to pre-Alzheimer's dementia.

The verdict: $465,000.00 for the plaintiff.

If Wal-Mart strikes a deal and comes into Chicago, be careful filling prescriptions there.

Source: Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter, Issue 27, Volume YY (April 20, 2007)

Friday, April 27, 2007

CBS 2: On the Scene

While out walking the real Skeeter, I happened to pass near the CBS 2 headquarters. There was a guy on the corner raising money for Miseracordia. I happened to run into a friend and his dog on the same corner.

As the light changed, the friend said to me "That guy was wearing makeup." It then dawned on us that the person was a CBS 2 reporter. We really don't know which one, but he looked vaguely familar.

I felt tempted to advise him that I hear there is a big fire on the West Side -- they should send six reporters and break into regular programming to report on it. For CBS 2, that is BIG NEWS!

I almost felt bad for the guy, wondering if that is what he had in mind when he was in journalism school.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sight Seen

This weekend's interesting sight: I happened to be walking the real Skeeter (a large working dog) through an underpass that goes from a main Chicago street under Lake Shore Drive to the lakefront.
Two women were in the tunnel. They were somewhere between seventeen and twenty-two. They were relatively attractive and pretty well dressed. You could tell that they really cared about how they looked.
One of the women was leaning against a wall in the tunnel and the other one was standing directly next to her. Both were standing within inches of the wall. I am not sure why they chose to do that. Maybe they were adjusting a shoe or something.
I thought about advising them of what I knew to be true: That homeless people (and gangbangers) urinate against that very wall.
I passed. I didn't want them to think I was hitting on them, and further, at a certain point, if you think it is a good idea to lean against an underpass wall, there is not much I can do for you.

SB 1296: Payback To The Plaintiff's Bar

It is pretty well known that the plaintiffs bar is upset with the Illinois Democrats for two reasons:

1. They have not brought back the Structural Work Act; and

2. They passed a [weak] version of tort reform.

Those plaintiffs' attorneys were starting to think that their campaign contributions were not buying them a thing.

But now Senator Cullerton has decided to toss them a bone.

Senate Bill 1296 is just that -- a bone to the plaintiffs bar. In no way remotely does it serve "justice." On its face, it is clearly biased and unfair.

But it will make the plaintiffs attorneys a lot of money.

There has been a lot written about the bill, but I have yet to see a real explanation of the bill and the implications.

The following is a typical scenario that you will see played out every day:

Plaintiff is an 26 year old ironworker who falls 40 feet at a construction site and sustains massive head injuries and partial paralysis. Value of the case is $10 million.

Plaintiff blames general contractor and masonry contractor. Those parties add plaintiff's employer as third party-defendant.

Facts show that the accident was caused by masonry contractor knocking into scaffolding, but also show that the plaintiff himself put the scaffolding in an improper location. Given the location of the accident and the fact that it happened once and only once, general contractor may have known about the situation but most likely did not. As such, liability against the general contractor is minimal to non-existent. Employer also has some minimal liability.

Masonry contractor is a small contractor. Turns out he doesn't have coverage for the accident. Plaintiff sees no coverage, so he takes $5,000.00 from that contractor and dismisses him out.

Jury returns the following:

Gen Contractor: 10%
Mason: 50%
Employer: 10%
Plaintiff: 30%

In that scenario, plaintiff likes having mason on the verdict form. Without the masonry contractor on the verdict form, plaintiff's percentage of fault is over 50%, meaning that plaintiff collects nothing. With the masonry contractor on the form, plaintiff is under that point.

Under the current law in the above scenario with mason appearing on the verdict form for attribution of fault, plaintiff would recover his meds from both general contractor and employer, since both are under 25%. Given the injuries and the usual allegations of future medical, that would probably total about $2 million.

That seems reasonable. Everyone pays their proportion of fault, as found by a jury.

Cullerton's bill would change that.

Under his bill, for purposes of joint and several liablity (but not for purposes of plaintiff's fault), you do not consider mason (who settled out cheap) in determining whether the defendant's meet the 25% threshold. As a result, without taking into consideration the fault of the mason, those other two defendants are over the 25% thresshold and as such, are on the line for the entire $10 million, rather than the $2 million in liability they would otherwise face.

As a result, plaintiff is not considered over the 50% threshold, so he does collect.

However, due to the gift of Sen. Cullerton, the remaining defendants are now OVER the 25% threshold. As such, they are now jointly and severally liable for the entire verdict.

Short and sweet:

1. Plaintiff enjoys the benefit of mason on the verdict form;
2. Defendants do not.

How is this in any way fair?

This is nothing more than a gift to the plaintiffs.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Election Day Predictions

50: Dolar wins. Stone’s time is done. [Stone won]

49: Moore holds. He is a bad guy, but people up there still view things his way. Too many Loyola liberals who think it is IMPORTANT that Chicago remain nuke free and that those poor geese are treated well. [Moore held]

43: Daley holds. Her opponent has not run a serious campaign. Daley has done a pretty good job and hasn’t given voters much of a reason to go another direction. [Daley held]

35: Colon loses. This one will be close, but Colom has the field operation. [Way off. Colon romped]

32: Matlack wins. He’s got too much money and too much backing this time. He’s Natarus four years ago. He should enjoy this term, since it will be his last. [Matlack lost]

21: Brookins holds. [Brookins held]

18: Lane holds. [Lane held]

16: Coleman loses. Her neighborhood has too many problems. They need a change. Another unresponsive alderman loses a seat. Another wake up call to the counsel: “WATCH OUT FOR YOUR NEIGHBHORHOOD.” [Coleman lost]

15: Foulkes wins. Throwing darts here. There has been no coverage of this race, As such, my thought is that the union money will carry Foulkes home. [Foulkes won]

3. Tillman loses. Her day has passed. A lot of people who should know better violated Chicago rule #1: “Don’t back no losers.” They should have seen this coming a long way away. [Tillman lost]

2: Haithcock holds. Fioretti is a genuine dingbat in the Natarus mold. Haithcock hasn’t done anything all that obnoxious so voters won’t be motivated to toss her out. [Haithcock lost]

[Record 7-4-1 (forgot to predict 24)]

Smokers At It Again

It is pretty well known that I despise smoking. It is also pretty well known that the actual "Skeeter" is a 75 pound (O.K., he's up to about 85 now, but we are working on it) German Shepherd dog.

Today, those two facts collided.

While out for our early morning work out, the actual Skeeter came across a cigarette lighter. It looked like something interesting, so he picked it up. Wrestling ensued. I won (twice actually, since after tossing it, he decided to fetch it), but that didn't really solve the problem.

The real problem is that smokers are pigs.

Could somebody please advise as to why smokers feel that they have the right to toss smoking related trash everywhere?

Hey smokers, CIGARETTE BUTTS ARE GARBAGE. TOSS GARBAGE IN THE TRASH. And although I am not violent by nature, if I see anyone tossing a lighter on the ground, I am reserving the right to shove that lighter right back where into the former owner, in any way that I see fit.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Natarus Calling It Quits?

This February, 42nd Ward voters, by a nearly 10% margin, rejected thirty six years of rule by Burton Natarus. Despite his loss, Natarus remains in political office as the Committeeman for the 42nd Ward.

Now it appears that those days might be coming to an end.

It is well known in the 42nd Ward that Natarus had almost no field organization. Precinct captains were virtually unknown. Despite all of his time in office, he developed no organization at all.

In addition, his political instincts were questionable at best. In a city that values "Don't back no losers", Natarus strongly supported the candidacy of Toddler Stroger, only to see the Toddler crushed in the 42nd Ward. The support for the Toddler may well have cost Natarus his aldermanic seat (it was one of may miscues, but the language used to describe Toddler's opponent surely riled some voters).

Natarus's political website -- -- has been down for several days. It looks like Natarus is ready to walk away.

We certainly hope so, as despite the wealth of many 42nd Ward residents, it remains a strongly Democratic ward. The 42nd needs leadership now, and it needs a field organization to turn out voters and to help finance candidates. Natarus provided none of that.

Here's hoping that is down for good.

Edited to add:
Turns out the site is back up. That's too bad, but we still hope that Natarus does call it quits. The 42nd Ward Democratic Party needs leadership, and Burton Natarus has provided none. It is time for him to fade away.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bernie Stone and Friends

In February, the papers were filled with stories about campaign contributions. People claimed outrage. The reason? It turns out that unions had contributed to certain campaigns.

Lost in the blather was an important note: It was not just the unions that were tossing around cash. It seems that the people who don't like unions also put some money on the table.

Like Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart has donated at least $3,000.00 to Bernie Stone's campaign.
And Sam Zell. He also donated to Bernie Stone.

But you don't hear those stories.

All the media reports is the union contributions.

Not one word about the union-bashers and their cash.

Let's face facts: Bernie Stone doesn't like the working man (and having spent his life in government, sure can't identify with working men) and his list of campaign contributors proves the point.