February 10, 2008

Prison Inmates File Suit

“Many clients believe they have lung problems attributable to asbestos.”

Jeffrey Donnellon, of Columbus, Ohio, comments as the attorney for 33 inmates who filed a federal lawsuit that accuses prison officials of lying about removing asbestos from the facility. Lab tests on a powdery substance collected by inmates at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution show the presence of the cancer-causing substance, said Donnellon, who said he sent the samples to the lab. The lawsuit, filed Jan. 4 in U.S. District Court on behalf of the inmates and four former inmates, accuses the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction of deliberate indifference to a known health risk. In a state inspection report of the facility filed in 2007, prison officials stated that the “last asbestos in a (prison) housing unit was removed … two years ago.”

Mich. Consumer Advocate Role

“We believe it is the role of the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) Commissioner to advocate for consumers. … Funding an additional position at taxpayer expense may not be the best use of the state’s limited resources.”

Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of Insurance Institute of Michigan (IIM) criticizes a proposal by Governor Jennifer Granholm to create a state automobile and homeowner insurance consumer advocate. Kuhnmuench called the proposal “unnecessary and duplicative.” The IIM questions why the position is being suggested when auto and homeowners insurance rates and complaints against insurance companies are all declining.

Med Malpractice Claims Drop

“It’s too early to say. … You can’t discount that it’s a factor, but we really think it’s too soon to tell.”

Ohio Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson was not quite ready to credit a number of tort reform bills as the reason that medical malpractice claim numbers had dropped. Although she said the volatility of the medical malpractice market, especially soaring insurance premiums, was beginning to level off, she was hesitant to tie that development to laws passed in 2003 by Republican Gov. Bob Taft and lawmakers after a partisan battle. Yet a report released by her agency on Jan. 22 that said the number of medical malpractice claims in Ohio dropped 20 percent from 2005 to 2006.

Mentally Incompetent

“Only a fool would say he didn’t have an interest in fire. … He burned half the county.”

A man who admitted setting fires that caused an estimated $500,000 damage has been found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect after a defense expert said he suffered from pyromania. Mayfield County Circuit Judge John Anderson comments after he found that Hendrik-Jan “Hans” Veenendaal, 30, of Washburn, was not mentally responsible for the crimes. As part of a plea agreement, 16 arson counts were dismissed but read into the record. The fires were set in 2005 and 2006 and damaged hay bales, cars, boats, trucks, vacant houses and other structures. A hearing is scheduled later in February.

Topics Ohio Medical Professional Liability

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