Lawmakers ask about Bar lawyer regulation system Lawmakers ask about Bar lawyer regulation system Senior EditorAfter a day debunking many of the claims made about medical malpractice, a Florida Senate committee questioned Florida Bar President Miles McGrane about Bar prosecutions for frivolous lawsuits and the Bar grievance process generally.McGrane was one of about 20 people invited to give sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 14-15 during the second legislative special session on medical malpractice.The Senate has been under fire from Gov. Jeb Bush and the House for refusing to agree to a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. But senators said they had been getting conflicting information, so the upper chamber took the unusual step of inviting witnesses to the Judiciary Committee, and then putting them under oath. That makes them liable to a perjury charge if they lie.McGrane testified after the committee had quizzed state employees involved in regulating insurance companies and the medical profession. They testified that the state largely relies on information from insurance companies and their accountants on the number of claims made and other actuarial information. Other employees testified that although claims have been made that high malpractice rates are driving doctors out of the state, there are more doctors in Florida than five years ago, and the number of doctors applying to practice in Florida is increasing.Witnesses also said, contrary to much of the talk about medical malpractice, that there is no flood of frivolous malpractice suits driving up rates.Against that backdrop, committee Chair Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, asked McGrane for general information about the Bar’s grievance process and specifically how many cases had been investigated for filing frivolous malpractice suits.McGrane replied that there had been three malpractice related investigations. One was referred by a judge who ruled a defense lawyer did a filing without reasonable investigation. That case was dropped when an appellate court overturned the judge.On the other two cases, a lawyer sued the wrong doctor who had the identical name as the intended defendant, and a lawyer sued the wrong partner in a P.A., he said.In recent years, the Bar has averaged about 9,000 complaints a year involving 4,500 to 5,000 lawyers, McGrane reported. Total disciplines have ranged from 391 to 472, including between 20 and 38 annual disbarments. Other disciplines include suspensions, reprimands, voluntary resignations, and probations. The numbers do not include those who opt to attend the Bar’s ethics school in lieu of facing a minor misconduct charge.Asked by Sen. Durrell Peadon, R-Crestview, how the Bar process worked, McGrane answered that local grievance committees, made up of lawyers and nonlawyers, investigate complaints. If a committee finds probable cause, then a referee holds a hearing and makes a recommendation. That is reviewed by the Bar Board of Governors, which decides whether to agree to make a different recommendation when the case goes to the Supreme Court, which has final authority over all grievance cases, he said.Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-West Palm Beach, asked about cases under F.S. 57.105, which allows judges to award the opposing side attorneys’ fees in costs when an attorney brings a frivolous action. McGrane replied that rarely happens. He also noted that some had suggested a provision that an attorney who brings three frivolous actions within five years be barred from filing medical malpractice, and added he doubts that will ever happen.Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, a former member of the Bar Board of Governors, spent much of the meeting asking tough questions of insurance and medical representatives. He asked McGrane about lawyer advertising, saying, “I think the doctors have a legitimate gripe about that.”McGrane said the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s ruled that lawyers have a right to advertise, but that The Florida Bar has enacted — and has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — the toughest regulations of any state bar.“Personally, I find it repulsive, repugnant, whatever word you want to use. But as president of The Florida Bar, I have to enforce the rules on what the courts will let us do,” he said.Ironically, no one asked McGrane about his personal practice, which is largely made up of defending doctors in medical malpractice cases.Questioning of McGrane was mild compared to some witnesses. Robert White, president of First Professionals Insurance, the state’s largest medical malpractice insurance company, and Jeff Scott, an attorney with the Florida Medical Association, conceded there was no problem with frivolous lawsuits, or even that there is a large number of them. White said past legislation had fixed that problem, but added bad faith laws make it difficult for insurance companies.That was contrary to much of the rhetoric earlier this year, when frivolous lawsuits were frequently blamed for skyrocketing medical malpractice rates. White also estimated that 10 percent of rate hikes were caused by low interest rates on investments and other economic factors, not related to lawsuits. August 1, 2003 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News
Jeff Wilkin’s article of May 16 regarding the Holocaust issue in Niskayuna, now over seven months old and showing no evidence of abatement, is entirely and delightfully objective. Virtually all ramifications are well addressed in a thought-provoking manner.This issue, which has been under intense public and media scrutiny, is now extremely contentious and divisive, as demonstrated at the Niskayuna town public hearing and board Meeting in April. I am proud to be Jewish and have visited the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and now support it financially, because I believe in its excellence and historical importance. Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion I do not believe that the proposed memorial for Niskayuna is necessary or appropriate for the town.I firmly believe that the contention that has predictably ensued and increased is sound evidence that the issue be resolved as quickly as possible by a town vote, as mentioned in the article.Even good ideas that are particularly divisive may be allowed to be forgotten so that peace is restored and animosity resolved.The fact that a powerful Albany law firm has been hired to assist in pushing it through the Town Board, perhaps against the will of most citizens of the town, says it all.Lyle W. BarlynNiskayunaMore from The Daily Gazette:Puccioni’s two goals help Niskayuna boys’ soccer top Shaker, remain perfectEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Niskayuna girls’ cross country wins over BethlehemEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homes
Read also: Government turns to domestic industry to modernize defense sectorThe company’s manufacturing plant is still operating at limited capacity given its status as one of the strategic sectors allowed to continue operating during the pandemic, according to Elfien.PT DI is currently producing two CN235-220 military transport aircraft — ordered by the Senegalese and Indonesian air forces — and a multipurpose light transport aircraft NC212i for the Indonesian Air Force.The CN235-220 is a twin-engined turboprop plane, while the NC212i is an upgraded version of the NC212-400, a variant of the NC212 medium cargo aircraft series that PT DI manufactured under license from Spanish aircraft maker CASA through a cooperation agreement that dated back to 1976.CASA is now a part of Airbus Defense and Space, while PT DI was formerly known as PT Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantata (IPTN).PT DI has now become the sole producer of the NC212 series and the NC212i being produced will be the 117th such aircraft that the company has manufactured since the series entered into mass production.The aircraft can carry a 3-ton payload and has a range of 207 nautical miles with the maximum payload. It also has the capability of taking off and landing on unpaved runways, making it suitable as a transport and logistics aircraft serving remote areas.The CN235-220 aircraft, meanwhile, is a variant of the CN235-10, which was jointly developed by PT DI with CASA in 1979. It was first mass-produced in 1986.In total, PT DI has manufactured 70 units of CN235-220, including the two latest orders, since it entered mass production, Elfien said.The military variant of the CN235-220 can carry a 5.2-ton payload with a range of 414 nautical miles carrying a maximum payload. The aircraft can accommodate 49 passengers or 34 paratroopers.Another defense firm that has scaled down production and delivery because of the pandemic is state-owned arms manufacturer PT Pindad.“The contracts are not canceled, but delayed,” Pindad president director Abraham Mose said. “Some delays, for example, the ones related to purchase orders from the Defense Ministry, have occurred because of changes in [the ministry’s] budget allocations, from being intended for arms and ammunition purchases to covering expenses to tackle COVID-19.”The Defense Ministry is among the state institutions whose budget has been slashed because the government is prioritizing its spending mainly for health care and social assistance programs to handle the COVID-19 crisis in the country. The ministry has seen its 2020 budget cut from Rp 131.18 trillion (US$8.6 billion) to Rp 122.44 trillion.Amid the global pandemic that had also led to shortages of essential medical supplies, Pindad has diverted some of its resources from its subsidiaries to produce ventilators, disinfectant and PPE to support health workers, Abraham said.”At first it was driven by the needs of Pindad’s own hospitals in Bandung [West Java] and Malang [East Java] for ventilators and PPE,” he said.Read also: COVID-19: Weapons maker Pindad develops ventilators, protective gearThe company, which has the capacity to produce 280 ventilators per week, is waiting for ventilator certification from the Health Ministry.Abraham said Pindad would return to its core business after the outbreak ended.PT DI is also lending its manufacturing capacity to produce ventilators in collaboration with the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), with an expectation of producing up to 500 ventilators per week, Elfien said.The ventilators have yet to be mass-produced pending certification from the Health Ministry. The ventilators will offer a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) function for noninvasive treatment of COVID-19 patients that have moderate difficulty in breathing.The impact of COVID-19 on Indonesia’s defense industry will be far-reaching, particularly since foreign buyers will shift their spending to handle the pandemic, said Anton Aliabbas from security reform and human rights watchdog Imparsial.“We are in uncertain [territory]. Will defense spending next year be in line with projections? Or should it be adjusted? If it is adjusted then it will affect the defense industry [as well],” he said.He predicted that the uncertainties in the global defense industry would remain until 2021 as many countries, including Indonesia, would continue to focus on ways to accommodate a post-pandemic scenario.Shifting some resources to produce essential medical supplies might help state-owned defense firms cope with the COVID-19 pain, particularly to avoid laying off some of their workforce, he said.Topics : “Not all of [PT DI’s current contracts] will be delayed and [we] will strive to fulfill some of them on time,” Elfien said.With the global pandemic having forced most countries to impose lockdowns, Elfien said supply chains had been disrupted affecting the daily operations of PT DI, which is heavily reliant on imported goods.“Our supply chains are disrupted […] we are depending on imports of some components such as engine and avionic [parts],” Elfien said.Its day-to-day operations were already trimmed down following Indonesia’s social distancing orders that forced between 50 and 60 percent of the company’s workforce to work from home. The domestic defense industry is feeling the pinch from COVID-19 as it struggles to maintain manufacturing output amid disruption to supply chains and a decline in productivity as a result of the government’s stay-at-home measures.Defense firms said they were trying to fulfill existing contracts with buyers, while also shifting some of their operations to produce essential medical products, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, following a Defense Ministry instruction to support the government in tackling the outbreak.State-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI) president director Elfien Goentoro said the pandemic had affected around 40 of the company’s current contracts with its buyers.