Accuracy in Media

A Reuters dispatch carried in the back pages of some papers reveals that Sony Pictures Entertainment has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of movie-goers who said they were duped into seeing a movie.  Sony is paying $1.5 million to settle the case, with most of that probably going to the lawyers who brought the suit.

Sony wrote a fake review of the movie “A Knight’s Tale” and placed it in an ad urging people to see the film.  Newsweek deserves credit for exposing the fraud.  As a result, Sony fired two executives blamed for the scheme.  But that’s not where the story ends.  Some lawyers figured this was a way to make some money.  So they found a couple of movie-goers who claimed they were duped into seeing the movie based on that bogus review and filed a class-action lawsuit.  Individuals who probably paid $5-$10 to see the movie may get a couple bucks in return, if they signed up as plaintiffs.

We can laugh at such a lawsuit, thinking about how gullible some people claim they are, just to make some money for the trial lawyers who found a rich target.  But many people are not laughing at other lawsuits filed by the trial lawyers.  In fact, Dr. William Campbell Douglass, who writes a newsletter on health issues, reports that doctors in Texas, outraged over rising insurance rates caused by malpractice lawsuits, announced that they were going to refuse treatment to malpractice plaintiffs, their lawyers, and their expert witnesses.  Douglass reports that similar stories of doctors refusing treatment to malpractice lawyers, sympathetic lawmakers, or their family members sprung up in South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Mississippi.  Back in June, he adds, one doctor submitted a formal proposal to the American Medical Association, the AMA, suggesting that physicians should be officially allowed to withhold care from attorneys involved on the plaintiff side of medical malpractice cases.

Douglass reports, “That motion was voted down, but the handwriting on the wall is clear: Doctors are getting sick and tired of being taken to the cleaners for malpractice insurance so that vulture-like litigators and their willing co-conspirators in the hallowed halls of government can get rich.”

Charles Hurt of the Washington Times has examined this problem in connection with Democratic Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards.  He notes that the AMA lists the health care situation in Edwards’ home state of North Carolina as a “crisis” and blames it on medical-malpractice lawsuits such as the ones that made Edwards rich.  Edwards specialized in blaming doctors and hospitals for cerebral palsy in children, using cases based on “junk science.”

Dr. Craig VanDerVeer, a Charlotte, North Carolina, neurosurgeon, was quoted in Hurt’s article as saying, “The John Edwards we know crushed [obstetrics, gynecology] and neurosurgery in North Carolina.  As a result, thousands of patients lost their health care.”  If the truth about Edwards was more widely known, Kerry might not be getting such high marks in public opinion polls for having a solution to the health care crisis.

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