As Forbes magazine recently reported, nearly half a million people die each year from preventable medical errors . The Forbes article relies on a study recently completed by the highly-regarded Journal of Patient Safety . In the words of Forbes , new research techniques have allowed investigators to identify "killer errors in hospitals" and to locate "where the bodies are buried."
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Despite various efforts to turn the housing market around, 10.8 million homeowners remain underwater (meaning they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth), which represents 22% of all mortgages in the country. While policy makers continue to butt heads on how to respond to this huge drag on the economy, homeowners continue to suffer. Lower interest rates have not had the desired impact as underwater homeowners are generally unable to refinance at recent low rates. Putting aside for a moment the question of a political remedy, how did millions of American homeowners find themselves underwater? Yes, economic forces and a decrease in housing prices can explain part of it (but even these forces were driven by over-lending, many might say predatory lending, that was so prevalent over the last decade). However, many regions, especially those that were already economically depressed, including locally (at least until very recent times), did not see the large run-up and subsequent collapse of housing prices. Yet, under water mortgages are still prevalent.
When I was in school, history was one of my least favorite classes. I always felt it was so boring to have to memorize names and dates of explorers, inventors, wars etc. Why was learning to recite the Gettysburg address in front of the whole class so important? It all seemed so unnecessary. The only thing that did pique my interest was the study of prehistoric times. I became intrigued by the study of Neanderthals and the gigantic dinosaurs that used to roam the Earth so many years ago. And the pyramids of Egypt! Who doesn't enjoy a good mummy story? I remember sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table painstakingly building tiny replicas of the great pyramids of Egypt with some spilt salt declaring that I was going to be an archeologist when I grew up. I envisioned myself in khaki shorts, work boots, long hair in a braided ponytail, driving my jeep around in some hot exotic land to a "dig" to find mummies and treasures. But of course I did not fulfill that dream (cliché that it was) since I've spent most of my adult life behind a desk in a law office.
Three recent news stories reveal that "zero tolerance" policies in our schools have truly run amok. In Boston, Massachusetts, Erin, a 17-year-old high school honor student, received a call from a friend saying that she had been drinking at a party. The friend asked for a ride home and Erin obliged. Erin arrived at the party at the same time as the police. Even though the responding police officer personally wrote a statement indicating that Erin had no alcohol and had not been drinking, the school found that Erin had violated its banned substances policy. Accordingly, she was suspended for five days and removed as captain of the school's volleyball team.
"Warning to West Virginia Motorists: If you text or talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving you could be pulled over, convicted and fined"
A few weeks back, I wrote an article that discussed how insurance companies and big business are using their vast wealth to pervert the jury system and gain an unfair advantage over folks seeking fair compensation for injuries they have suffered as a result of the misconduct of others. As I was writing that article, I couldn't help but think of the many, many cases I have tried in which evidence which would have had a significant impact on the jury's ultimate decision was kept from them due to the rule of law. I have always felt that the more information we can give to jurors, the more likely they are to reach a fair decision. Unfortunately, the law determines what information members of the jury are allowed to receive and consider, and a good deal of information jurors would like to have is kept from them as a result. I can't count the number of times I have been involved in a trial in which the jury submits a written question to the judge during its deliberations, only to have the judge respond that the requested information is not something the jurors are allowed to consider. It happened to me again just last month.
Consider the following set of facts. Jerry is solicited by a mortgage broker. The broker convinces Jerry that he should refinance his home and hires an unscrupulous appraiser, who gives an inflated value for Jerry's home. Using this inflated appraisal, the broker dupes Jerry into taking a higher loan--so high, in fact, that the loan is more than the home's actual value. With this higher loan, of course, come higher loan payments. The broker knows that Jerry can't really afford the loan, but no matter. The broker simply pockets his fees and moves onto the next victim.
I had the privilege of attending the St. Michael's Catholic Grade School children's mass held last Wednesday. The song that is sung at the conclusion of the mass is titled, "We are Called." It goes something like this: Come live in the light Shine with the joy of the love of the Lord We are called to be light for the Kingdom To live in the freedom of the city of God We are called to act with justice We are called to love tenderly We are called to serve one another To walk humbly with God Come open your heart Show your mercy to all those in fear We are called to be hope for the hopeless So all hatred and blindness will be no more
At Bordas & Bordas, we have shared the interest of many in the Ohio Valley about the continuing development of the natural gas industry. We acknowledge and recognize the potential benefits of this drilling to our citizens in terms of jobs and economic growth. We are hopeful that those jobs and the benefits of that growth will stay in our community as much as possible. By the same token, our community has the right to demand of the powerful interests involved that they conduct their operations safely, with an acknowledgement that nothing should be more important than the health of the workers at the job site and the long-term consequences of their activities on our environment. Our children and grandchildren will be breathing the air and drinking the water here in the Ohio Valley long after these companies have gone home.
This week's episode of the Bordas & Bordas Legal Review features Jamie Bordas and Chris Regan going through what is sure to be an exciting and controversial term at the United States Supreme Court. If you think our government isn't getting along when it comes to spending, health care, and the debt ceiling, wait until you see the things we really aren't getting along about such that they have reached the level of being set for oral argument in the United States Supreme Court. Whether it is campaign finance, affirmative action, abortion, public prayer, or presidential power, Bordas and Regan will break down the key issues and even give you a couple of predictions as to how these crucial cases may determine how the future of our country will turn out.