Thursday, October 28, 2010

Justice for Sale in Alabama?

With the elections just a few days away, we'd encourage you to visit the web site Justice for Sale that chronicles the influx of large cash contributions to the Alabama Judicial elections via nondescript PAC's. While we continue to push for the non-partisan election of Alabama judges, we also think it's time for Statewide judges in Alabama on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court to be appointed via a non-partisan committee and run for retention as opposed to election. This works well for the majority of other States and we believe such a system would better serve our citizens. However, until that time we must work within the system provided. We our endorsing and encouraging our friends and clients to vote for the following three candidates in the four statewide judicial elections next week:
- Rhonda Chambers, Alabama Supreme Court, Place 1
- Tom Edwards, Alabama Supreme Court, Place 2, and
- Deborah Bell Paseur, Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.
All of three of these candidates are highly qualified to serve the citizens of Alabama and each has received numerous endorsements from various Statewide newspapers and publications. No matter how you plan on voting next Tuesday, we hope you will take the time to cast your vote. The right to vote is an important part of the fabric of our great country and when you vote, you honor all of those people who have sacrificed so much to preserve and protect that right.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

US Chamber of Commerce = Hypocrites

Over the past 15 years the US Chamber of Commerce has been one of the Country's most outspoken critics of the American civil justice system and "trial lawyers." Yet as you can see below from the recently released report from the American Association for Justice, the US Chamber has aggressively used litigation in our civil justice system to promote the interest of big business and insurance companies to the detriment of injury victims and consumers. So, it's OK to file mountains of civil lawsuits for big business and insurance companies but anytime an injury victim or consumer files a lawsuit they are "abusing" our civil justice system? I think if you look up the definition of hypocrite it should say, "see US Chamber of Commerce."

From the AAJ Press Release:
Washington, D.C.—Earlier this month, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue called litigation “one of our most powerful tools for making sure that federal agencies follow the law and are held accountable.”
Yet ironically, the Chamber today holds its annual Legal Reform Summit – an event underwritten by its multinational corporate members that promotes undermining the civil justice system to weaken the basic legal protections of American workers and consumers.

The Chamber’s hypocrisy – blocking justice for everyday Americans while using the courts liberally for its own pro-corporate agenda – is the subject of a new report released today by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) that exposes the Chamber as one of the most aggressive litigators in Washington, entering lawsuits at a rate of over twice weekly.

“The Chamber’s ‘one rule for corporations, another rule for everybody else’ motto has come at the expense of ill-treated workers, defrauded investors and injured consumers,” said AAJ President Gibson Vance. “It readily spends millions of dollars to prevent Americans from holding wrongdoers accountable in the courtroom, and then aggressively uses the very same legal system to advance the agenda of its multinational corporate membership.”

In almost every case, the Chamber’s litigation on behalf of corporations has come at the expense of Americans’ health or financial security. The Chamber has: justified the actions of Wall Street banks that drove the country’s economy into turmoil; defended the most conceited and worst behaved CEOs and their most extravagant excesses; tried to force workers, instead of employers, to pay for their own safety equipment; filed numerous actions opposing any move to combat climate change; sought to shield pharmaceutical executives who skirted safety procedures that ultimately killed 11 children; opposed measures allowing workers to receive a rest period during a full work day; fought on behalf of lead paint manufacturers found to have poisoned thousands of children; defended corporations that discriminated on the basis of race and disability; and spent years defending big tobacco, asbestos companies and chemical companies found to have contaminated water and air.

“The Chamber has every right to seek what it believes to be justice in a court of law, even if representing the most deplorable corporate interests,” said Vance. “But it must learn that this right to justice belongs not just to their organization, or big business generally, but to all Americans.”

The report, titled “The Chamber Litigation Machine: How the Chamber Uses Lawsuits to Keep Americans out of Court,” can be found at

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Over the last few years many of our clients have heard us complain about insurance companies using Computer Assisted Claim Evaluation Programs when trying to determine the value of a personal injury claim. These programs receive a variety of infomation input by the claims adjuster and then return a "value" for the claim. The most infamous of these type programs is one called "Colossus" used by Allstate. The problem with these programs is that they can be easily mainpulated to make sure the "value" returned for claims in any particular area or region are unfairly low. This forces claimants to have to file lawsuits to secure full compensation or accept the low offer and suffer an economic loss.
On October 18, 2010, the New York State Insurance Department announced that Allstate Insurance Company has agreed to pay a TEN MILLION DOLLAR regulatory settlement concerning its improper use of claims handling software; Colossus. The multi-state investigation was lead by the insurance departments of New York, Florida, Illinois and Iowa and included 41 other States. According the the press release from the NYS Department of Insurance the investigation found "inconsistencies in Allstate's management and oversight of the Colossus software program. In particular, the examination found that Allstate had failed to modify or 'tune' the software in a uniform and consistent manner across its claims handling regions." Press Release.
The Alabama Department of Insurance (ADI) particpated in this investigation and settlement and, according to Ragan Ingram Chief of Staff for ADI, our State will receive $37,749.60 of the $10 million settlement. This situation again exemplifies why our State needs a "Claimants Bill of Rights" to protect individuals from over zealous insurance companies. Click here to see a sample of the Consumer Bill of Rights adopted by the Texas Department of Insurance.