Friday, December 29, 2006

Basic Procedures Inhibit Spread of Hospital Infections

John Hopkins researchers reported that simple and inexpensive procedures such as hand-washing can have a drastic effect on the spread of dangerous infections within hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90,000 Americans die every year from hospital-contracted infections. LA Times, LA Times 12/28/2006Read Article: LA Times

Sierra Club Joins Legal Battle Against Coal Plants

The Sierra Club is trying to join a lawsuit filed by Environmental Defense that would block the TX governor's plan to speed the approval process for the construction of 18 new coal-fired power plants. The lawsuit seeks to overturn an order that would speed up consideration of permits for the plants. Opponents of the plants argue that the TX governor lacks authority to set time limits on decisions by administrative law judges. The Associated Press, Ft. Worth Star Telegram 12/27/2006Read Article: Ft. Worth Star Telegram

Baton Rouge Federal Court Goes Digital

On March 1, 2007, all filings in federal court in Baton Rouge must be filed electronically. Only inmates or persons not represented by a lawyer will be allowed file paper except "special permission cases" as approved by a judge. The clerk's office offers an online tutorial and remote assistance via computer. The Advocate 12/28/2006Read Article: The Advocate

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Judge Seeks Lawyers' Advice on Katrina Lawsuits

U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. of Mississippi wrote to the 180 lawyers who filed insurance lawsuits related to Hurricane Katrina claims, asking them whether the cases should be tried separately or in groups. Attorneys for insurance companies want the cases tried separately. You might know! Why would an insurance company make it easy? Plaintiff attorney Richard Scruggs is fighting to keep the cases joined in a mass action. Judge Senter handled the first Katrina-related trial that challenged insurance companies and may have a decision this week. Associated Press, The Advocate 08/15/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Louisiana Municipalities Join Arkansas in Probe of Entergy Rates

26 municipal governments in Louisiana have joined more than other businesses, associations, consumer groups, and local government agencies in a request from by Arkansas Public Service Commission for a federal investigation into the business practices of Entergy Corp. The request asks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to look into whether Entergy is manipulating the cost of electricity generation and transmission. Nah, American corporations don't do that, do they? Mark Ballard, The Advocate 08/15/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Need Insurance? Try the LA Dept. of Insur. Web site

The Louisiana Department of Insurance has a new link on its Web site to help residents find an insurance company. Of the 300 companies writing coverage in Louisiana, about 34 have joined a special database that allows residents to search names of companies who will write coverage south of I-10 in the state's major hurricane strike zone. Ted Griggs, The Advocate 08/15/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Yeah! Insurers Extend Hurricane Claim Deadline, But There's strings Attached..

Most Louisiana insurers have agreed to comply with the state commissioner's request to extend the deadline in which homeowners can settle claims. Each of the 385 compliant companies has different conditions for their extensions. Sounds like Pres. Bush's prescription drug plan, doesn't it? Rukmini Callimachi, Houston Chronicle 08/14/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

More fake-bake news! Cancer Rates Prompt Tanning Legislation

NY Times reports minors face restricted access to the indoor tanning industry as a result of increasing skin cancer rates. 19 states have been barred minors from using indoor tanning beds that the American Academy of Dermatology has labled a "health-peril equivalent" to cigarettes. Contradictory studies between health agencies and the tanning industry have caused a controversy over tanning guidelines. Paul Vitello, The New York Times 08/14/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

FDA fails us again: FDA Drug Directory Fails Inspection

LA Times reports the Department of Health and Human Services claims the FDA prescription drug directory is incomplete and inaccurate. The erroneous directory prevents the FDA from properly assessing recalls and medication errors, according to the report.
But, I thought there were no medical errors or faulty products. You know frivolous lawsuits and all that. Anyway, the FDA agreed with the findings and will work to fix its deficiencies. The Associated Press, LA Times 08/14/2006 Read Article: LA Times

What goes up, must come down: Problematic Elevators on the Rise

Several NY apartment buildings are failing to maintain proper operation of elevators. The FDNY has responded to over 11,000 elevator-related emergencies, which have doubled in frequency the past couple of years. According to a safety and health consultant on elevators, NY is among the most lenient on verifying repairs. Robin Stein and Mathhew Sweeny, The New York Times 08/15/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Dell PC Batteries Recalled Due to Fire Hazard

New York times reports that Dell is recalling 4.1 million of its notebook computer batteries because they have a tendency to erupt in flames. The lithium-ion batteries used in these notebooks are also found in cell phones, digital cameras, and several other popular electronics. The batteries were manufactured by Sony, who sells its batteries to most of the major computer manufacturers. Damon Darlin, The New York Times 08/15/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Cancer Treatment Linked to Heart Problems

The Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that radiation and the drug, Herceptin, are linked to certain heart problems. Radiation treatment in breast cancer patients is also exposed in the heart and coronary arteries, increasing the risk of future heart disease. Research of the drug Herceptin revealed a loss of pumping ability in the heart in addition to shortness of breath. Denise Grady, The New York Times 08/15/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Monday, August 14, 2006

Wow...fake bake can be fatal. Concern Over Minors' Unregulated Use of Tanning Beds...

Wow...that fake bake can be fatal.

Studies have shown an increase in skin cancer among the population, but experts are most concerned about its incidence among young children. The goood-guys have been lobbying for laws restricting access to tanning salons for anyone under 18 or to have information posted in salons showing different types of skin cancer. Louis DiGioia, a tanning bed distributor, compares proposed legislation to telling people how to raise their kids.

But, is the analogy fair?

Some people don't just let their kids ride in the bed of a pick-up truck; they make ride in the bed of a pick-up truck. It's still dangerous, even if parents don't recognize the danger. Paul Vitello, The New York Times 08/14/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Dr. Moreau comes to U.S. prisons: Medical Panel Wants Testing of High Risk Drugs on Inmates

H. G. Wells would be proud. A federal panel of medical advisers wants to change drug testing programs to allow experiments with greater risks on prisoners. Ouch...that hurts! But, critics wisely cite abuses by prisons across the country that occurred prior to the 1970's, when testing was curbed by regulations. The Holmesburg facility in AL was one prison that spurred a change in pharmaceutical testing. Ian Urbina, The New York Times 08/13/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

NJ High Court Limits Use of Testimony Extracted by Hypnosis

The NJ Supreme Court reversed its position on the use of refreshed hypnosis testimony by saying there is doubt that such evidence meets the standards of admissibility. However, the refreshed testimony will still be allowed if it comes from the defendant on trial. The decision stems from a rape case in which the defendant questioned whether proper procedures were followed regarding the use of hypnosis evidence provided by the alleged victim. Jeffrey Gold, Philadelphia Inquirer 08/14/2006 Read Article: Philadelphia Inquirer

Jury Verdict is a Major Blow to Lexington Medical Center in SC

A jury awarded the estate of Dr. Asif Sheikh nearly $30 million in damages for his death. The physician died after undergoing knee surgery at Lexington Medical Center and the hospital allegedly engaged in a "massive-cover up" in which records were lost or possibly destroyed. However, the hospital's insurer will not pay the full amount because of an agreement early in the trial and state law limiting the liability of public hospitals. John Monk, The State 08/12/2006 Read Article: The State

Medical malpractice at its most tragic level! High Risk of Medication Error for Kids With Leukemia

Medical malpractice at its most tragic level! A recent study found that kids treated as outpatients at Seattle Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center have a one-in-five chance of receiving the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage. At least one error affected 13 of the 69 children involved in the study. According to the bean-counting researchers, the mistakes were trivial, but three of them could have caused problems for the kids. The bean-counters wouldn't say it's "trivial" if it were their children. Associated Press, The Seattle Times 08/14/2006 Read Article: The Seattle Times

Veterans' Lawsuit Blames Military Weapon for Illnesses

Herbert Reed, an Army National Guard veteran, suffers from a number of serious ailments he believes were caused by exposure to depleted uranium. The military has been using the byproduct of enriched uranium to coat thousands of artillery shells and hundreds of tanks. Depleted uranium is 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium; however, the Department of Defense maintains that it is safe and tests have not revealed any negative side effects. Deborah Hastings, Boston Globe 08/13/2006 Read Article: Boston Globe

Letter to the Editor: Allstate Defends Cuts in Wind and Hail Coverage

B-L-L-S-H-I-*....B-L-L-S-H-I-*....B-L-L-S-H-I-* An Allstate manager explains that the company's proposal to drop wind and hail coverage for about 12 percent of its Louisiana policyholders is good for business. The letter states, "This change would help Allstate manage risk in a way that is least disruptive to our customers, while also allowing them to continue their relationships with their Allstate agents." Letter to the Editor, Allstate, The Advocate 08/14/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

State Farm and Allstate Agree to Extend Prescription Deadline

The Louisiana State Insurance Department reports that State Farm and Allstate agreed last week to comply with extending the one-year deadline to allow their policyholders more time to file lawsuits over hurricane-related storm damage. State Farm agreed only if a new state law requiring the extension is found constitutional. If the courts do not uphold the law, State Farm will give policyholders 30 days from the date of the court ruling to file suit. Under the deadline extension, policyholders would have until Aug. 30, 2007, to sue for Hurricane Katrina damages and until Sept. 25, 2007, to sue for Hurricane Rita damages. Ted Griggs, The Advocate 08/12/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Friday, July 21, 2006

Was it murder? Neglect? Or necessary for pain? Hurricane Patient Deaths Not an Easy Case

The Advocate reports (07/20/2006), legal scholars agree that proving a doctor and two nurses injected patients with the intent to kill them while stranded in a New Orleans hospital after Hurricane Katrina will be a huge challenge. One of the major questions will center on whether the injections were given with deliberate intent to kill or to ease pain. The problem is one of intent. Penny Brown Roberts, The Advocate Read Article: The Advocate

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Nissan Altimas and Sentras Recalled

Bloomberg reports, over 200,000 sedans have been recalled for a faulty engine part that causes stalling. The 2006 Consumer Reports have ranked four Nissan models as the least dependable. A previous recall for 2006 models was due to complaints of excessive oil use and engine fires. Ripley Watson, Bloomberg 07/12/2006 Read Article: Bloomberg

Agreement Bars Surgeon from Practicing in U.S.

The Oregonian reports, Dr. Jayant Patel and the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners entered into an agreement that suspends Dr. Patel's license to practice in Oregon and bars him from obtaining a license in any other state in the U.S. until an investigation into alleged criminal charges, including patient deaths, in Australia is completed. The Oregon board says this effectively ends Dr. Patel's career because the case in Australia could take years to resolve. The Oregonian 07/14/2006 Read Article: The Oregonian

Who needs an autoclave. We have elevator fluid! Duke University Health System in Malpractice Limelight

Wow, Louis Pasteur just turened over in his garve. Forbes reports, A man is suing the Duke University Health system after his surgical instruments were washed in elevator fluid. Medical officials admitted to possibly exposing 3,800 surgery patients to the tainted instruments. They also claim the exposure was not harmful according to independent studies. The Associated Press, Forbes 07/14/2006 Read Article: Forbes

Money! Money! Money! Medications Unknowingly Altered

USA Today reports, pharmacies and healthcare companies are distributing compound/self-made drugs without informing doctors and patients. Chairman Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa claims maximizing profit may be their central motive. Who’s the main target? Medicare patients since the insurer pays brand-name costs and lacks compound drug-billing codes. Julie Appleby, USA Today 07/14/2006 Read Article: USA Today

USC Transplant Survival Rate Questioned

The LA Times says, the Los Angeles University Hospital reports a significant decline in liver transplant survival rates. USC falls below federal and state standards for government certification and funding. The California Dept. of Health Services will begin investigation in connection to the statistics. Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber, LA Times 07/13/2006 Read Article: LA Times

Is the medical profession suborning perjury? Doctors Can Sue if Disciplined for Med Mal Expert Witness Testimony

Is the medical profession suborning perjury? Sounds like it to me! The Florida Medical Society and three Florida doctors are not immune from liability for their efforts to discipline a doctor who testified as a plaintiff's expert witness in a medical malpractice trial, according to a ruling by an appeals court in Tallahassee. Daily Business Review, 07/14/2006

Campaigns Foretell of Partisan Legislature

John Maginnis reports, the future Legislature "will have the deepest partisan divide between the two houses in modern state history." Maginnis associates the partisanship with early campaign efforts and term limits. In the House, Republicans could end up with a majority. In the Senate, Democrats could gain more power as 9 of 15 seats (60 percent) currently held by Republicans will be open. Eight of 24 seats held by Democrats (33 percent) will be open. La. Politics, John Maginnis, 07/14/2006

New Orleans Withdraws from Possible 2008 DNC Host Sites

Associated Press reports, New Orleans withdrew its bid as a host city for the 2008 Democratic National Convention because of the cost associated with the event. Still being considered are Denver, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and New York City. Cities in competition for the '08 Republican National Convention are Cleveland, New York City, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Associated Press, 07/14/2006

Developer Can't Find Insurance in New Orleans

The Advocate reports, a real estate developer wants to rebuild about 800 total housing units on the West Bank of New Orleans, but he can't get affordable insurance. Developer Howard Gyler is reported to have said, "People have said, 'Where's the private sector?' Here I am. Now get me insurance so I can go to work." A spokesperson for the property casualty insurance industry said insurance companies are pressured by too many risk factors ranging from high crime, theft of building supplies at construction sites, looting and vandalism, risk in reconstructing damaged buildings as opposed to new construction, and threat of future hurricanes. Chad Calder, Ted Griggs, The Advocate 07/14/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Thursday, June 29, 2006

If you’re poor, and you die, hey, that’s the best we could do: Transplant Centers Not Meeting Standards for Federal Funding

Love of money....The LA Times determined that roughly 20 percent of federally funded transplant centers across the country are failing to meet minimum standards. These substandard programs have poor patient survival rates or do not perform enough operations to be certified for funding. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has not issued sanctions or pulled certification from any center that fails to meet its standards. Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein, LA Times 06/29/2006 Read Article: LA Times

Ah, quit whining! Go live somewhere else: Homeowners Being Driven Out of FL by Rising Insurance Rates

Love of Money. Part II....Many homeowners in the state of FL can no longer afford to pay the rising insurance rates. Some face foreclosure on their homes and others have packed up and left before the rates go up any higher. Insurance has become a top campaign issue, but many cannot wait for the Legislature to provide homeowners or the depleted state-created insurer, Citizens, with assistance. Lynn Waddell, The New York Times 06/29/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

It might be your civic duty, but insurance lawyers will make it your hell: Insurance Attorneys Use Aggressive Tactic to Challenge Med Mal Verdict

Attorneys representing an obstetrician-gynecologist and his medical group are challenging a $28 million verdict awarded to a state Health Department investigator. The defense attorneys plan to attack individual jurors by hauling them back into court and will also accuse the entire panel of prejudice. The case involves a botched surgery that caused a urinary tract problem for the 42-year-old woman. Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel 06/26/2006 Read Article: Orlando Sentinel

Insurers Says 'Stiffed' Katrina Victims

Love of money. Part III...

Jon Haber, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, said, U.S. Homeland Security is being called to investigate reports of insurance companies improperly denying claims filed by victims of Hurricane Katrina. Haber said, "This isn't the first time policyholders who have dutifully paid their premiums for years and years have been stiffed by the insurance industry."

You’re hungry and no place to sleep, but "vhere" are your papers! New Medicaid Law Could Hurt Hurricane Victims

Yah...Vhere is your papers? Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said the new Medicaid law that requires proof of American citizenship to receive benefits could pose hardships for hurricane victims who have lost personal documentation. Nine plaintiffs, who are American citizens, filed a class action lawsuit in Chicago say various circumstances prevent them from providing the required documentation. The new law is effective Saturday. Jan Moller, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/29/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Once, twice, three times a victim: New Medicaid Law Could Hurt Hurricane Victims

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said the new Medicaid law that requires proof of American citizenship to receive benefits could pose hardships for hurricane victims who have lost personal documentation. Nine plaintiffs, who are American citizens, filed a class action lawsuit in Chicago say various circumstances prevent them from providing the required documentation. The new law is effective Saturday. Jan Moller, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/29/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Greedy Doctors set up fake charities...

Doctors around the country have started setting up tax-exempt charities that have become conduits for money from drug companies and medical device makers. Some argue that these foundations are created to keep the industry money away from doctor's private practices. However, critics believe these funds often go towards studies that do little to advance science and sometimes go towards for-profit medical groups to cover business expenses or even pay part of doctors' salaries. Reed Abelson, The New York Times 06/28/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Elliot Mainway & CPSC: Subjective Factors to Determine if Product is Defective

Remember Elliot Mainway on Saturday Night Live. The guy who had his own subject measure for determining if his product were defective. Well, Mr. Mainway is now employed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Federal agency that is supposed to protect you and your children.

The CPSC proposes a rule change that would allow a manufacturer to consider several subjective factors to determine whether a product is "defective" and whether it must warn consumers about certain product hazards. Recalled toys are also included in the types of products affected by the rule change. The toy industry lobbied heavily to have the rules revised.

Electronic Medical Records Are More Easily Exposed to Theft

Four groups are currently working on a way to standardize medical records and convert them into electronic data. This effort could expose extremely sensitive information to hacking or accidental release. Dr. Halamka of Harvard believes a decentralized approach is better because the data lives in the doctor's office or hospital, not in a large central database that could be hacked. Judy Foreman, The Dallas Morning News 06/27/2006 Read Article: The Dallas Morning News

We need Doctors who care, not Tort Reform

In a question-and-answer format, Ken Suggs, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, discusses why he believes lawyers who sue doctors are unfairly singled out as the reason for skyrocketing health care costs. Suggs says the real issue is politics rather than medical crisis. Read the article here. UPI, 06/28/2006

Tort Reform Group Monitors State Attorneys General

The American Tort Reform Association launched a Web site that targets litigation agendas of state attorneys general. ATRA is a Washington-DC-lobby formed in 1986 to represent hundreds of U.S. and foreign corporations in their bid to overhaul civil liability laws at the state and national levels. ATRA coordinates the activities of "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse' (CALA) that is a sham front groups for Fortune 500 companies with a direct financial stake in restricting lawsuits, such as tobacco, insurance, chemical, auto and pharmaceutical industries. ATRA President Sherman Joyce said since the tobacco industry litigation of the 1990s, AGs have formed similar partnerships with plaintiff attorneys to litigate against other corporate interests. View the Web site. PRNewswire, PR Newswire 06/27/2006 Read Article: PR Newswire

Good Guys Win: Welding Case could influence thousands of other cases...

A jury ruled that welding rod manufacturers are not liable for the health problems a worker allegedly developed after being exposed to welding fumes at his job. His lawsuit claimed the exposure caused him to suffer from manganese poisoning, a disease with symptoms similar to Parkinson's. The ruling could influence thousands of other cases, but a plaintiffs' spokesman noted that "The vast majority of cases filed against the welding industry are far stronger than this one." Associated Press, The New York Times 06/27/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Boston Scientific Issues Second Recall of Faulty Heart Device

Boston Scientific recently recalled almost 23,000 pacemakers and defibrillators because of a possible defect. The latest recall involved an electrical flaw in a low-voltage capacitor. Doctors have been warned to check for signs of a malfunctioning capacitor in the devices. Mark Jewell, LA Times 06/27/2006 Read Article: LA Times

Emergency Room Visits and Waiting Times Increase

A survey of more than 400 hospitals and 1,400 doctors' offices found that visits have increased 31 percent in the past 10 years. The amount of time a patient waited for a physician in ER also increased from 38 minutes to 47 minutes between 1997 and 2004. The National Center for Health Statistics said the increase in visits only "partly reflects the 11 percent increase in the U.S. population, but people also were seeking care more often." Associated Press, USA Today 06/27/2006 Read Article: USA Today

Train Crash Survivors and Volunteer Firefighters File Suit

The city of San Antonio, Bexar County and a sheriff's deputy are being sued over their rescue efforts in a 2004 Union Pacific train derailment. The derailment resulted in a deadly chlorine gas leak that claimed the lives of nearby residents. The lawsuit contends volunteer firefighters were kept away from the scene of the wreck even though they could have helped save lives. Elizabeth Allen, San Antonio Express News 06/26/2006 Read Article: San Antonio Express News

New Orleans Deadline Approaches for Damaged Houses

New Orleans homeowners face an Aug. 29 deadline to clean up their houses wrecked by Hurricane Katrina or have the city demolish the homes. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin foresees legal problems and said the city will try to enforce the law while respecting property owners' rights. Bruce Eggler, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/27/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Republican Judge sticks it to working families, declares Louisiana Governor’s Katrina order illegal

Republican Judge Tim Kelley of 19th JDC ruled the Gov. Blanco "exceeded her authority" when she suspended the statute of limitations to give citizens more time to file lawsuits after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Judge Kelley also ruled that the Legislature acted "improperly" when it ratified the governor's order. The court’s ruling helps insurance companies avoid liability by not paying those who, through no fault of their own, could not file suit timely because of Hurricane Katrina.

Judge Kelley said while the governor has such authority over agencies of the state, the courts are not agencies of the state. Plaintiff attorney Jeff Nicholson of Baton Rouge said an appeal is being prepared. Others speculate on the serious and far-reaching effect the ruling could have upon numerous lawsuits filed between Aug. 29 and Jan. 3. Penny Brown Roberts, The Advocate 06/27/2006 Read Article:
The Advocate

Good guys win! 11-Person Jury Orders ExxonMobile to Pay $5 Million in Asbestos Case

An 11-person Baton Rouge jury ordered ExxonMobile to pay $5 million to the widow of a contract worker who died from mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos in the 1960s. Plaintiff attorney Lewis Unglesby said the company protected its own employees from asbestos exposure but did not do the same for contract workers. During recent weeks an issue erupted over whether the case should proceed with only 11 jurors after one juror became ill and there were no provisions for an alternate. ExxonMobile moved for mistrial. A district court judge ruled that the case should proceed. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled for ExxonMobil. One day later the state Supreme Court reversed the 1st Circuit ruling and the trial resumed. Adrian Angelette, The Advocate 06/27/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

Monday, June 26, 2006

Doctors Have Upper Hand at Trial

Remember the idea of a fair trail. No such thing exist when an individual is injured by a doctor. A Massachusetts newspaper investigation reveals that patients rarely win in medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors. The article shows that since 1998 only five plaintiffs in the county were awarded judgments; 88 had their claims dismissed. A spokesman for the Massachusetts Medical Society said outright that doctors usually win; yet, the medical society is lobbying the Legislature for more restrictions on medical malpractice lawsuits. The medical society claims jury awards and settlements are driving up the cost of malpractice insurance rates, forcing doctors to leave Massachusetts. Milford Daily News, Massachusetts, 06/25/2006

The Ugly: Merck Seeks to Block FDA Whistle Blower's Testimony

Dr. David Graham's testimony for federal Vioxx trials "goes beyond anything he has said previously and shouldn't be heard by jurors," said Merck's attorneys. Graham alleged that the drug maker dragged its feet about adding a warning label and that Vioxx should not have even been approved when it was. A hearing is scheduled for later this week to decide what part of his depositions will be allowed in a lawsuit filed by a retired FBI agent who took Vioxx before suffering a heart attack. Janet McConnaughey, Houston Chronicle 06/23/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

Bad Faith: Use of Aftermarket Parts by Insurers is Focus of Debate

Aftermarket parts are not made by the original car maker but are typically cheaper and therefore reduce the cost of car repairs. Insurance companies like them but many body shops believe the parts are often inferior, don't fit correctly, or are unsafe. State laws governing the use of these parts vary and some states allow their use without the consumer's knowledge or consent. Julie Tripp, Houston Chronicle 06/26/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

Caveat: Finding Insurance That Has Your Back, But Won't Stab You In The Back

Consumers are advised to weigh the cost of homeowners insurance against the coverage and how well prepared the company is to handle disasters. Article provides tips on buying insurance. Pamela Yip, The Dallas Morning News 06/26/2006 Read Article: The Dallas Morning News

More Insurance shenanigans: Insurers Say They Never Promised Rate Reductions

At least seven insurance companies selling medical malpractice insurance to doctors in Georgia raised their rates within 16 months after a law was passed that severely restricts a person's right to sue for medical mistakes and dangerous errors, including death. Insurance lobbyists said rates would go down if SB 3 would be passed. "However, the result is that people have been stripped of their rights, while insurers continue to gouge doctors." Since February 2005, medical malpractice policies have increased from 3 to 57.5 percent. A spokesman for the American Insurance Association said, "We have not promised price reductions with tort reform." Also, a Georgia law requires some plaintiffs who win in court to pay the loser's legal costs. Macon Telegraph, Georgia, 06/24/2006

Problems with your car? You better live in the right place! Court Upholds Use of Regional Recalls by Automakers

Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety challenged a government guideline that says automakers can limit recalls to certain regions. The groups claim the guidelines amount to a "de facto regulation" and violate a federal law requiring that all vehicle owners be notified of a recall no matter where they live. The court disagreed and said the "guidelines are nothing more than general policy statement with no legal force" and that regional recalls are not barred by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Ken Thomas, Boston Globe 06/26/2006 Read Article: Boston Globe

Believe it or not: State created insurance company to pay $19.6 Million Dividend to deserving corporation...

Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation (LWCC), a state created insurance company that help corporate America, announced it will pay a $19.6 million dividend to qualified corporations, which is believed to be the largest dividend ever paid by a workers' comp insurer in the state. LWCC News Release, 06/22/2006

Sensata Denies Allegations in Lawsuit Over Cruise Control Switch

Texas Instrument's sensors and controls division was sold to Bain Capital LLC and is now known as Sensata Technologies. The manufacturer developed a cruise control switch that has been linked to a number of engine fires in Ford vehicles. The company denies allegations that they failed to address problems with the switch and claims that it was Ford's responsibility to alert consumers of any potential hazards. David Pitt, Boston Globe 06/23/2006 Read Article: Boston Globe

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Xenophobia's one thing, but concentration camps are another! GOP candidate calls for labor camp…

EFE, a Mexican news service, reports Republican gubernatorial candidate Don Goldwater, the nephew of the late Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater, advocates holding undocumented immigrants in camps to use "as labor in the construction of a wall and to clean the areas of the Arizona desert that they're polluting."

Ann Coulter made a similar argument months back, which Fox News considered seriously during one of its Noise Machine segments.

Hey, folks, this kind of talk is seriously sick!

The Miami Seven: The gang that couldn’t shoot straight. A Major Terror Ring Or 'Al Qaeda Lite'?

Imagine, if you can, you’re President of the United States. You’re the only president in the history of the country to be appointed, rather than elected. Then, 9/11 happens on your watch! Now, you have to perform. With characteristic schoolboy bravado, you naively proclaim, “bring it on.”

You stake your entire presidency on the invasion of two countries. After all, you do command the strongest military in the history of the world. You can’t miss, right? You foolishly proclaim, “Mission accomplished,” before the last shot is fired. But, your tough talk and braggart ways leads to bloodshed with no end in sight.

Then, you’re caught spying on American citizens and coaxing major corporations into selling you personal data on private individuals. You’re caught searching international business records of Americans.

Couple international blunder after blunder with a soaring federal deficit, employment numbers that aren’t great, and a Misery Index that’s rising. Your job approval numbers are low and getting lower. Respected journalists consider you the worst president in the history the country. And, mid-term Congressional elections loom.

Ah, there’s the rub: mid-term Congressional elections.

If your party loses the House and the Senate, you’ll likely be the first president in the history of the country to be impeached and convicted. So what do you do to salvage your presidency? How do you avoid accountability?

When you’re the most powerful man in the world, you use that power to create conditions that save your presidency and keep your party in power. You do what’s always done. Find a scapegoat – a patsy – a Quasimodo.

Every generation has an anti-hero who can rejuvenate a political base and salvage control. In the 20s, it was Sacco and Vanzetti. In the 50s, it was Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In the 60s, it was the Chicago Seven. Ah that’s it! Numbers and traitors… traitors and number…oh my!

Why not a “Miami Seven”? It’ll work. It has to work.

So under the direction of Alberto Gonzales and the FBI, seven men - Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyblenson Lemorin and Rothschild Augustine – from a Miami shantytown were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism.

But, something just doesn’t add up.

First, there’s the perennial "Jeb Bush-George Bush" connection. You know Florida, the rigged election of 2000, the 9/11 terrorist connections, etc. Is it a matter of chance or design that the seven men accused of being Al Qaeda operatives were exposed by FBI undercover agents in a state riddled with questionable activity on behalf of President Bush and controlled by Jeb Bush, Florida’s Governor and the President’s brother?

Next, there’s the accusation that the Sears Towers in Chicago, which is thousands of miles away, was the target.

And then, there’s the Justice Department’s characterization of the Miami Seven. "This group was more aspirational than operational," FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said. What does “more aspirational than operational” mean? Those close to the operation called the Miami Seven "bungling wannabes."

Bungling wannabes? Is that another way of saying the Miami Seven are little more than contemporary Walter Mittys, “Al Qaeda Lite,” or simply “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight”?

The Miami Seven are accused of trying to raise an army. And yet, spokesman for the US attorney's office said, "We are confident that we have identified every individual who had the intent of posing a threat to the United States." What about the army they were raising? Where is it?

Ah, but something is rotten in Miami. The Bush administration insisted the November midterm congressional elections didn’t motivate the arrest. Or, did it? Read: Major Terror Ring Or 'Al Qaeda Lite'? Andrew Cohen Is Skeptical About Arrests In Miami Terror Plot

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Holistic Dentists Become Target of Lawsuits

Holistic dentists believe many of the body's ailments come from the mouth. A 36-year-old California woman had all of her teeth removed after a pair of holistic dentists told her that silver dental fillings were poisoning her. She filed suit against the licensed dentists after learning about the extent of damage they had done. Insurers and regulators are cracking down on this practice by denying claims, suspending licenses and issuing fines. Daniel Yi, LA Times 06/18/2006 Read Article: LA Times

CA Bar Considers Rule on Disclosure of Malpractice Insurance

Some estimate that as many as 20 percent of lawyers in California lack malpractice insurance. The state bar is considering rules to require attorneys to tell new clients that they don't have insurance. The owner of Law-Biz Management Co. agrees that the concept of insurance is a good idea but only if there is a plan to provide affordable insurance. Mike McKee, 06/21/2006 Read Article:

Nurses Claim Hospitals Conspired to Keep Wages Low

Four class action lawsuits have been filed against some the nation's largest hospitals for allegedly sharing information on nurses' wages in an effort to suppress pay. Kim Dixon, Reuters 06/20/2006 Read Article: Reuters

NY Judge Denies Disclosure of Defendant Doctor's Medical Records

Dr. George J. Beraka is being sued for allegedly botching a facelift, which caused his patient to have difficulty swallowing and speaking. The plaintiff claims the surgeon's physical condition caused him to make a mistake. However, the judge ruled that the plaintiff could not compel the doctor to disclose his own medical records but he can be asked questions about his condition during his deposition. Daniel Wise, 06/21/2006 Read Article:

How to Survive a 'Really Broken' Healthcare System

Experts advise patients to be their own health advocates because of the high number of medical errors. The American Public Health Association and Consumers Union say one of the most important things hospital patients can do is to have someone at bedside at all times to help guard against mistakes in overworked, understaffed hospitals. Greenville News, South Carolina, 06/18/2006

Video-Game Industry Granted Restraining Order for New Law

A federal judge has agreed to put a new Louisiana video game law on hold. The law bans the sale of violent video games to minors and establishes a fine of up to $2,000, one year in prison or both for violators. Judges in California, Illinois and Michigan have found that similar laws violated the industry's right to free speech. Reuters, Reuters 06/21/2006 Read Article: Reuters

Proposed Bill to Improve Oversight of Drug Safety

Senators Michael B. Enzi of WY and Edward M. Kennedy of MA plan to introduce a bill that could dramatically change how drugs are tested and approved. The bill would essentially require drug makers to disclose the results of Phase 3 and 4 trials, have a detailed risk management plan to address safety problems after a drug is approved and pay fines for failing to execute this plan. Gardiner Harris, The New York Times 06/21/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Victim of Sexual Assault Sues is being sued by a 14-year-old girl who claims the Web site does not provide "meaningful protections or security measures to protect underage users." The girl claims she was sexually assaulted by another user who lied about his profile to gain her trust. The chief security officer for said, "Ultimately, Internet safety is a shared responsibility. We encourage everyone on the Internet to engage in smart Web practices and have open family dialogue about how to apply offline lessons in the online world." Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle 06/19/2006 Read Article: San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sunscreen May Be 'Snake Oil of the 21st Century'

A New York attorney, whose firm is filing a class action lawsuit against several major sunscreen manufacturers, claims these companies have given consumers a false impression that they are protected from harmful rays. He would like claims such as "sunblock," "waterproof" and "all-day protection" removed from labels. However, doctors are concerned that these lawsuits may cause people to stop using sunscreen, which may result in even more skin damage. Elizabeth Olson, The New York Times 06/19/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Fosamax Risks Becoming More Apparent

Fosamax, a drug used to fight osteoporosis, has been linked to jaw decay, also known as osteonecrosis. A Florida attorney filed a class action lawsuit against the drug maker Merck & Co. He believes Merck knew about the risks for years, while many doctors and patients are still not aware of the potential risks of ONJ for dental patients on bisphosphonates. Carey Hamilton, The Salt Lake Tribune 06/20/2006 Read Article: The Salt Lake Tribune

The Pigs are at the trough: Louisiana Legislators Vote Themselves Insurance Perk...

The Pigs are at the trough! Gov. Blanco has not revealed her position on a bill that would authorize the state to pay 75 percent of health and life insurance premiums for former and current legislators who have served for at least 10 years. Existing law permits the state to pay 38 percent of premiums for legislators and state employees who have 10 years of service. Rep. Mike Powell of Shreveport said it is wrong for lawmakers to give themselves privileges while many residents and the state struggle with hurricane issues. Ed Anderson, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/20/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Monday, June 19, 2006

Medical Malpractice Reform Not Working in Georgia

Despite claims that sweeping medical malpractice reform would reduce insurance rates for doctors, a number of medical malpractice insurers in Georgia increased premiums. Some insurers raised liability rates for doctors and dentists by up to one-third. The state passed medical "reform" legislation in 2005 that restricted malpractice lawsuits; capped pain and suffering awards at $350,000; set tougher guidelines for expert witnesses and enticed patients to settle out of court. Associated Press, 06/15/2006

Side Impact Air Bags Can Significantly Reduce Risk of Injury

Several vehicles including the Chrysler 300 and Ford Five Hundred failed side impact crash tests performed without side air bags. The side air bags are standard equipment on 40 percent of 2006 models and should be standard on all models by 2009. Nick Bunkley, The New York Times 06/19/2006 Read Article: The New York Times

Private Judging Has Its Advantages

Many divorcing couples are turning to private judges because of the speed and convenience of a private trial. Courts in Dallas County are swamped, so hiring a private judge can be a way to "fast-track" a case and maximize a lawyer's time in court. This can lead to less expensive cases, but a California justice argues that the same dispute can keep coming up because no precedent is set in a private case. Mary Alice Robbins, 06/19/2006 Read Article:

Lawyer Claims Merck Canceled Vioxx Study After FDA Decision

Merck was planning a study on the cardiac risks of Vioxx but scrapped the project in March of 2002 soon after the FDA decided to tone down its warning about heart risks. The FDA and Merck agreed that a notice should be added in the precautions section of the drug's label rather than a more conspicuous warning section. Merck's former head of marketing claims the decision on the study and the labeling were merely coincidence. Linda A. Johnson, Houston Chronicle 06/16/2006 Read Article: Houston Chronicle

Jury Verdict Sends Message to Drunk Drivers

A family was awarded $28.2 million for the death of 33-year-old man who was hit by a drunk driver. The driver's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit when his truck pinned the man between two vehicles and dragged him to his death. The driver was sentenced to seven years in prison for intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault. Dallas News, The Dallas Morning News 06/19/2006 Read Article: The Dallas Morning News

Free markets? What free market? Drug Companies Face Lawsuits Alleging Price Fraud

A number of states are suing pharmaceutical companies for inflating drug prices, which adversely affects Medicaid and Medicare. The industry plans to vigorously defend themselves against these allegations and Baxter International claims "there is a great deal of transparency and has been for quite some time." The DOJ is confident that hard evidence will show overcharging by the industry. Tresa Baldas, 06/19/2006 Read Article:

Insurance Industry Controlled LIBA Pushes House To Vote Down Amendments For Homeowners Insurance Break

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) opposed House amendments that would have given you, Louisiana homeowners, a $50 million break on premiums after the hurricane season.

The Senate had added amendments to two spending bills that would have given Louisiana Citizens Insurance Corp. $50 million at the end of hurricane season to pay off bonds early. That would have offset the amount that Louisiana homeowners will be assessed to support the Citizens insurance program. Florida turned all of its $700 million surplus over to its state-operated insurance program, which eliminated the need for a homeowners' assessment. Lake Charles American Press, 06/19/2006

U.S. Supreme Court 'Fractured' Wetlands Ruling Could Impact Louisiana

A 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on a wetlands development issue is so "fractured" that one justice said "lower courts and regulated entities will now have to feel their way on a case-by-case basis." The court said the federal Clean Water Act may have been misinterpreted in a case that barred Michigan property owners from building a shopping mall and condo on wetlands that they own. Justices could not reach a consensus on whether government protections extend past waterways, which means lower courts will have to decide whether ditches and drainage outlets are included as part of a government-protected waterway and wetland area. The ruling could have significant impact upon Louisiana and the "taking" of property without due compensation. Lafayette Daily Advertiser, The Advertiser 06/19/2006 Read Article: The Advertiser

Panel Created to Redesign Health Care in Louisiana

The Legislature passed a resolution to create a 37-member panel that would recommend ways to improve health care in Louisiana. Panelists would be named from LSU and other medical schools, nursing homes, hospitals, pharmacies, business, lawmakers and others. Head of the panel will be Fred Cerise, secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals. The task is to tackle health care problems in the New Orleans area first, then the rest of the state. A final report would be due by Dec. 31, 2007. Will Sentel, The Advocate 06/19/2006 Read Article: The Advocate

If you commit corporate fraud and you can’t deny it, then attack the Courts that hold you responsible: Courts are Newest Target in Tort Reform Effort….

That’s the new tactic of tort reformers! Attack the courts instead of legislatures. Corporate defense counsel are urged to push for jury trials and challenge torts common law case-by-case before business-friendly judges. One corporate defense attorney said, "(T)he quickest and easiest way to change laws is through the courts…All you need are a couple of good rulings from an appellate court, and suddenly you have something to talk about in other jurisdictions and in your own." Critics say under the guise of asking for jury trials, they are really asking juries to "hickjack the law" and that it's "very easy to flimflam a jury" on complex issues. The American Justice Partnership, an attack-dog group formed in 2005 by the National Association of Manufacturers, promotes the tort-reform-in-the-courts effort. Read "Moving Toward the Fully Informed Jury" and a practice guide. ABA Journal, 06/19/2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Addicted to war...

It’s reported Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in the world, will spend $6.8B to fight poverty. By contrast, the United States, the richest country in the world, will spend $400B to protect the property of international corporations. So, is the world better off with George W. Bush? who is “addicted to war.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What does Chickenhawk Karl Rove have in common with Dick Cheney and George W. Bush? They dodged the draft during the Vietnam War …

Just hours after the special prosecutor decided not to indict Karl Rove in the Scooter Libby CIA- leak scandal, Rove emerged from hiding and , once more, assumed his role as chief hatchet- man for the Bush administration.

Trying to salvage the Bush administration, Chickenhawk Rove attacked John Kerry and Jack Murtha. Both Murtha and Kerry have distinguished military records as compared to Rove, Bush and Cheney.

We all know that George W. Bush was given preferential treatment during the Vietnam War by which he was allowed to enter, but never complete, military duty with the Air National Guard.

Dick Cheney was no better. After multiple DWIs, Cheney was eventually given a deferment from the draft.

As the Bush administration continues to spiral downward, the Blogs are buzzing with information about the draft-dodging efforts of Bush’s Brain, Karl Rove, during the Vietnam War. Here are some excerpts:

“Except for a lapse of several months, Selective Service records show presidential adviser Karl Rove escaped the draft for nearly three years at the height of the Vietnam War using student deferments....[Rover's]draft record and accounts from friends reveal a young man who didn't necessarily agree with the war and managed to avoid being drafted…. Far from being a conscientious objector, Gustavson [a friend of Rove] recalls, Rove's opposition to the war was political. He considered the conflict a ‘political skirmish that was not being properly administered.’"

Monday, June 12, 2006

More Guantánamo Newspeak...

Yesterday we reported on the suicides at Guantánamo, Cuba. We pointed out the use of Orwellian style Newspeak to confuse the public into believing that an act of desperation was actually an act of asymmetrical warfare.

Continuing that theme, The New York Times examines unspeakable aspects of American justice as applied at Guantánamo:

"[Guantánamo] is a place where secret tribunals sat in judgment of men whose identities they barely knew and who were not permitted to see the evidence against them. Inmates were abused, humiliated, tormented and sometimes tortured. Some surely are very dangerous men, committed to a life of terrorism and deserving of harsh justice. But only 10 of the roughly 465 men at the camp have been charged with crimes. The others, according to senior officers who served there, were foot soldiers of the Taliban or men who just happened to live in a country invaded by the United States after the 9/11 attacks."

Read: The Deaths at Gitmo

In Prisoners' Ruse Is Suspected at Guantánamo , The New York Times details the suicides. Most intriguing is the continued Newspeak. For example, one official described the suicides as “an attempt to influence the judicial proceedings in that perspective." This is a far stretch.

Read: Prisoners' Ruse Is Suspected at Guantánamo

Bush administration continues downward international spiral: The Chilean President Defied US Pressure to Oppose Venezuela's Security Council Bid..

The Bush administration is feeling stiff resistance internationally. The latest obstacle: Chile. Roger Burbach reports:

"President Michelle Bachelet came to Washington on Thursday for a one day whirl wind trip that included a meeting with George Bush. Both exchanged pleasantries after the meeting, neither referring to the heavy-handed efforts of the Bush administration to pressure Chile to oppose Venezuela's bid for a seat on the United Nations security council....At a meeting of Latin American and European nations in Austria in May, President Bachelet, alluding to the growing US hostility towards the so-called "power axis" between Venezuela and Bolivia, stated: 'I would not want us to return to the cold war era where we demonise one country or another. What we have witnessed in these countries [Bolivia and Venezuela] is that they are looking for governments and leaders that will work to eradicate poverty and eliminate inequality.'"

Read: Bachelet Refuses to Back Down to Bush

Are Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito determined to judicially rollback the racial clock?

New York Times reports, "now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging racial balancing in public schools, some conservatives hope the end of affirmative action is near."

Perhaps Not All Affirmative Action Is Created Equal

More Executive abuse of power: DOJ targets plaintiffs' law firm….

Determined to keep the average person defenseless against the likes of Ken Lay, the Bush administration has targeted the securities law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman. Four Democratic congressmen have spoken up in defense of Milberg Weiss and, indeed all trial lawyers, stating:

"The Justice Department's crusade against trial lawyers, the first line in the average citizen's protection against corporate greed, has taken a new low in the indictment of an entire leading law firm in the plaintiffs' bar."

Representatives Charles B. Rangel, Carolyn McCarthy, and Gary L. Ackerman of New York and Robert Wexler of Florida signed the statement.

It’s time for all trial lawyers to sever ties with the Republican Party. For decades, the Republican Party, along with the Chamber of Commerce, have been on a relentless campaign to discredit trial lawyers nationwide.

Read: 4 From Congress Defend Indicted Law Firm

Attorney Whistleblower Sues Orleans Levee Board

Former staff attorney Gary Benoit sued the Orleans Levee Board and two officials, claiming officials tried to force his resignation after he decided in September to tell the governor's office about illegal activities at the agency. Benoit worked for the levee board for 17 years. Frank Donze, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/09/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Editorial: 'Overindulged' Nursing Home Industry Needs No More Special Breaks

Editors call for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to veto any bill that offer more special favors to the "politically powerful" nursing home industry.

Louisiana HB 613 would protect nursing homes from state budget cuts and is part of a "long, disturbing pattern" in the way federal Medicaid funds support long-term care in Louisiana. Instead of protecting nursing homes, legislators should pay more attention to the health of Louisiana citizens.

Editorial, New Orleans Times-Picayune 06/09/2006 Read Article: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bush administration’s newspeak continues: Is the U.S. at war with Saudi Arabia and Yemen?

Riddle: When is suicide not an act of desperation? Answer: When it’s an act of asymmetrical warfare. At least that’s how Rear Adm. Harry Harris, commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, sees it.

Commenting on the 2 Saudis and 1 Yemeni who committed suicide at Guantanamo, Harris said:

“This was clearly a planned event, not a spontaneous event…I believe this was not an act of desperation, rather an act of asymmetric warfare waged against [the U.S.]”

"Asymmetrical warfare" is defined as "a conflict in which a much weaker opponent uses unorthodox or surprise tactics to attack the weak points of the much stronger opponent."

So, who will Bush bomb next for this asymmetric act of war? Saudi Arabia? Or Yemen?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Wake up: the American Dream is over

In “Wake up: the American Dream is over,” Paul Harris of The Guardian (U.K.) examines the plight of working class Americans. Calling America the land of extremes, Harris observes:

“America has some of the worst urban sprawl in the world and also the most beautiful and well-protected wildernesses. Its politics is awash with lobbyist inspired corruption. Yet passionate political engagement among millions of Americans puts many other countries to shame.”

Sadly, however, Harris rhetorically asks:

“So in this land of black and white, we should not be too surprised to find some of the biggest gaps between rich and poor in the world. Such a yawning chasm is just the American Way, it would seem. Besides, the American Dream offers a way out to everyone. All someone has to do is work hard and climb the ladder towards the top. No class system or government stands in the way.”

Not so, Harris concludes, supporting his conclusions with startling statistics:

“Over the past 25 years the median US family income has gone up 18 percent. For the top one percent, however, it has gone up 200 percent. A quarter of a century ago the top fifth of Americans had an average income 6.7 times that of the bottom fifth. Now it is 9.8 times. Inequalities have grown worse in different regions. In California, home to both Beverly Hills and the gang-ridden slums of Compton, incomes for lower class families have fallen by four percent since 1969. For upper class families they have risen 41 percent.”

Was he beaten to death, or was he bombed? New questions raised about the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Associated Press reports Iraqis have raised questions about the death Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. According to AP, U.S. officials altered their account of al-Zarqawi’s death. At first, U.S. officials said al-Zarqawi was alive and partly conscious after bombs destroyed his hideout. But an Iraqi witness has raised fresh questions about al-Zarqawi’s death.

The informant, identified only as Mohammed, said, “[al-Zarqawi] was still alive. We put him in the ambulance, but when the Americans arrived they took him out of the ambulance, they beat him on his stomach and wrapped his head with his dishdasha, then they stomped on his stomach and his chest until he died and blood came out of his nose."