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July 3rd, 2012

Controlled by Personal Injury Bar, Cal Lawmakers Move ‘Phantom’ Bill to Overturn High Court

Bought and paid for by California’s parasitic personal injury bar, Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg and many of his Sacramento colleagues will try to push “phantom” legislation through the Assemby, leaving key language out of an inexcusable bill until the very last minute in hopes of keeping the public in the dark.

As reported by Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee, Steinberg’s Senate Bill 1528 was introduced and moved “through the Senate as virtually an empty shell to be filled in later with language that would completely or partially overturn a 2011 state Supreme Court decision.”

The high court’s ruling in Howell v. Hamilton Meats appropriately limited recovery of medical damges in personal injury cases to the amounts actually paid to care providers, as opposed to the amounts originally billed by providers but subsequently negoitated down.  Insurers say the decision will save them, and their policy holders billions of dollars a year in inflated lawsuit payouts, much of which had previously served to enrich trial lawyers.

Of course, Walters reports, the personal injury lawyer lobby, to which Steinberg and many of his colleagues are beholden, “has declared legislation to overturn the decision as its highest legislative priority this year.  In response, insurance and business groups have formed a coalition to oppose the bill and, with its initial hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee scheduled for [today], both sides are ramping up lobbying and public relations campaigns.”

Its opponents believe that Steinberg and his Assembly allies are planning to flesh out his phantom damages bill with “phantom amendments” at the last minute.  They’ve made and posted a video (below) that playfully makes fun of the cloak-and-dagger process.

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