PCCJR Update – May 3, 2018

Recap of SB 936 Fight — College Students Next Victim of Litigation Industry — Lawsuit Watch — In the News — Ridiculous Lawsuit Edition 

SB 936 Fight Ends in Gubernatorial Veto

After months of intense debate and a significant victory in the state Senate and state House, Governor Wolf vetoed SB 936, legislation that would have improved health outcomes for injured workers, curtail the dangerous practice of profiting off medically unproven compound creams, and help prevent opioid addiction.

The legislation’s trip to the governor’s desk had many twists and turns including an initial tie vote in the House on February 6, 2018. After that vote, the PCCJR activated a campaign aimed at switching “no” votes to “yes” and making sure those who voted “yes” heard the support and appreciation of their constituents. The trial bar spent several hundred thousand dollars on targeted mailings, flyers, and paid advertising into legislative districts attempting to intimidate legislators who voted “yes” into switching their vote. Even though we were vastly outspent, we achieved a stunning victory on April 16 when the common-sense legislation was reconsidered by the House and passed by a vote of 101 to 92. !

Before the veto, the Governor said he would take “executive action” to address some of the bills concerns. Those actions and details remain to be seen.

“The Governor’s proposed “executive action“ does not eliminate the scam involving compounded pain creams,” PCCJR Executive Director Curt Schroder pointed out. “The Governor proposes that compounded creams be billed at the ingredient level as opposed to allowing the current practice of charging thousands of dollars to continue. In the same breath, he states these compounds ‘are of unknown safety and efficacy’ and that there are lingering questions about the appropriateness of opioid compounds!”

PCCJR is concerned that all the Governor intends to do is possibly lower the cost of these compounds while offering no protection to injured workers from the quacks perpetuating this scam.”

Just prior to the vote it was revealed in a Philadelphia Inquirer news report that the governor’s campaign had received $1.1 million in campaign contributions from a political action committee connected to the plaintiff lawyers and pharmacies perpetuating the same workers’ compensation and pharmaceutical scams that S.B. 936 seeks to address.

“Governor Wolf’s plan to take “executive action” to address opioid prescriptions for injured workers, is simply cover for his veto of SB 936,” Schroder said. “Although we have seen no Executive Order, nor have we seen specifics of what the Governor has in mind, it is clear the Governor had no plans to protect injured workers from opioid abuse until the legislature sent SB 936 to his desk and forced his hand. Let’s not forget, “executive actions” do not carry the force of law and can be overturned by this Governor or any successor.”

Getting this bill to the Governor’s desk was a significant victory for the PCCJR and the coalition of organizations supporting SB 936. The trial bar was confident after the initial tie vote that SB 936 would never surface again. The PCCJR demonstrated that with the right message and approach, we can and will be successful in moving our priorities through the legislative process.

Related articles:

Schroder blasts politically-motivated veto of opioid bill| PA Townhall

Wolf vetoes workers comp drug formulary bill| Altoona Mirror

College Students Are the Next Victims of the Litigation Industry

The Post-Gazette recently reported that three student organizations at Penn State are being decertified by the school due to the alleged high risk of their activities. The Outing Club, Nittany Grotto Caving Club, and Nittany Divers Scuba Club were deemed too risky after a review by the Student Affairs and Risk Management office. The Outing Club has been around for 98 years.  

The Outing Club’s incoming President, Christine Platt, explained: “Our increasingly litigious society is making it far more difficult for people to get outside without the fear of lawsuits for any misstep.”

Initial reaction was swift and some commentators pinned blame on the university. However, the real culprit is the litigation industry and plaintiffs’ attorneys seeking enrichment through the lawsuit lottery.  The $1 million liability insurance policy that covers these campus organizations is too attractive to Pennsylvania’s plaintiffs’ lawyers. It has simply become too risky for Penn State to continue covering these clubs under that insurance due to the constant threat of lawsuits.

Clearly, the propensity to sue for any injury or slight regardless of fault places Penn State and any organization with “deep pockets” right in the cross hairs of the plaintiff’s bar. Really, no business is immune. According to a 2010 study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform, small businesses paid $105.4 billion in expenses related to lawsuits in 2008. When malpractice suits were added in, the amount rose to $133.4 billion.

Penn State and its students are the most recent victims of lawsuit abuse. It makes us at PCCJR wonder where the plaintiffs’ attorneys will strike next? Perhaps the Chess Club?

Related Articles:

It’s risky out there! That’s why PSU’s Outing Club can no longer go outside| Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

No more college outing clubs? Thank a trial lawyer!PCCJR Letter in Lehigh Valley Live

Penn State Student Club a Sad Victim of a Much Larger Legal Problem| PMA Bulletin

Lawsuit Watch

This month’s edition of Lawsuit Watch included special guest Angela Boateng, General Counsel for the Pennsylvania Medical Society. You can hear our discussion with Angela about issues related to the legal climate and the medical community on our podcast by clicking here.

Lawsuit Watch airs on the fourth Monday of each month on WFYL. The program broadcasts live on 1180 AM and on the web.

In the News – Ridiculous Lawsuit Edition

 More Junior Mints| Women Files Consumer Fraud Lawsuit Against Junior Mints Packaging| NBC Chicago

Coffee IS hot | Second Philly-area Wawa faces negligence lawsuit over hot coffee spill| Penn Record

Judge Brings Gavel Down on Evasive Plaintiffs| Plaintiffs Lawyer, Clients Sanctioned for ‘Consistent Course of Evasive Conduct’| Legal Intelligencer

 

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