2019 Legislative Session Concludes - Several Problematic Bills Defeated - More Fights Ahead

The final vote on HB 1955, the Workers Comp Made Whole Bill.

The final vote on HB 1955, the Workers Comp Made Whole Bill.

As one of my last responsibilities serving Arkansans as the President of the Arkansas Trial Lawyer’s Association was working at the state capitol during the 2019 legislative session. I am happy to report a successful session defending the rights of injured Arkansans to seek justice against negligent actors and wrongdoers. Each legislative session, our legislature may refer out three proposed constitutional amendments to the voters. You may remember this is how Issue 1, the previous attempt at sweeping tort reform, was referred to the voters in 2017 before being removed from the ballot despite being widely unpopular in the polls and facing defeat at the ballot box. The same group of legislators tried again with another sweeping tort reform amendment. That provision (also called SJR8, the same bill number as in 2017) failed to gain any traction and never reached a vote in any committee.

However, this was not the only attempt at limiting the rights of injured Arkansans to seek justice. Here are a few bills that were defeated in the session:

HB 1955. The proposed workers compensation “made whole” bill. This bill, known colloquially as the “injured worker indentured servant act,” would have thrown out the doctrine of made whole in workers compensation cases. It would have placed the corporation BEFORE the injured worker if a settlement or verdict was returned in the injured worker’s favor. This was defeated twice in committee before it was rushed out in a quick and hurried vote when Rep. John Payton (R) declared “he was hungry.” That vote was short lived, because due to yeoman’s work by our lobby team, the bill was trounced on the House floor with only 35 yeas. It needed 67 to pass. You can read more about HB 1955 below.

In addition to HB 1955, a “made whole” bill that would have applied to a wider swath of cases, including auto med pay, was filed in the Senate as SB 566. However, after legislators on Senate Insurance and Commerce learned how much the bill would harm Arkansans, it never gained traction and was never brought to a vote.

SB 543, which would have changed the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act, passed in the Senate, but went nowhere in the House and died in House Judiciary upon adjournment sine die. Likewise, SB 544, which would have done away with the collateral source rule, never gained traction in either chamber and died upon adjournment.

While it was a successful session for Arkansas consumers, vigilance is key. There will be further attempts at limiting rights in the future that must be addressed and defeated. Thanks to all friends and clients of the firm who reached out to legislators to communicate their opposition to these harmful bills. Your contributions are key and greatly appreciated.

Consumer Alert - Gibson Law Firm, PLLC Is NOT Collecting Debts in Various States

It has come to our attention that some person or entity has pirated our firm logo and other intellectual property and is engaging in online "phishing" schemes. These schemes include claims that this firm is collecting debts and pursuing legal actions against individuals in various states. The emails in these schemes attempt to coerce individuals to forward payments for debts they claim are owed.

Please be aware that this firm has sent no such emails. We are not engaging in these debt collection activities. We are very sorry that this has happened to anyone, and we are actively taking steps with authorities, both foreign and domestic, to put a stop to this practice. We apologize for any inconvenience or hardship. If you have been a victim of these phishing schemes, please contact us so that we may provide your information to the appropriate authorities. In Arkansas, please contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982.

We thank you for your help, and again, we apologize if anyone has suffered from these activities.


2019 Legislative Session Kicks Off January 14, 2019

The 2019 legislative session kicks off next Monday, January 14th. Watch this page for legislative updates and information. Pre-filing began some time ago, and after some niceties and introductions, the legislature should be in full gear in short order.

If you have questions or comments, please post them here, and I will try to work my way through them as quickly as possible!

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Jesse Gibson Speaking Against Issue 1 in Conway September 10th!


Please join us as Jesse Gibson addresses the Faulkner County Democratic Party this Monday, September 10th, at 6:00 PM at Old Chicago Pizza in Conway.  We will be discussing (among other things) Issue 1, the tort "reform" provision that will be on the November ballot.  We will have general information about Issue 1 and why it is bad for Arkansans, plus ways for you to get involved and to defeat Issue 1!  If you have any questions, please contact us through our website at www.jessegibsonlaw.com or by email at jgibson@jessegibsonlaw.com.  Please view the latest Protect AR Families anti-Issue 1 ad below!


Jesse Gibson Speaking Against Issue 1 in Springdale on August 19th

Please join us as Jesse Gibson addresses Ozark Indivisible this Sunday, August 19th, at 12:30 PM at Rotary Park Pavilion in Springdale.  We will be discussing (among other things) Issue 1, the tort "reform" provision that will be on the November ballot.  We will general information about Issue 1 and why it is bad for Arkansans, plus ways for you to get involved and to defeat Issue 1!  If you have any questions, please contact us through our website at www.jessegibsonlaw.com or by email at jgibson@jessegibsonlaw.com.  


More Views From the Campaign Trail

It feels like I've been everywhere this campaign season, campaigning against Issue 1, the tort "reform" proposal that will be on your ballot this coming November.  But it has been a great time, and highly successful.  I've met tons of great Arkansans who do not want a government mandated price on life enshrined in our state constitution.  I have tons of events coming up in the next few weeks, and I will be putting out that information on an almost daily basis.  So watch this space!  Until that time, here are a few recent shots from the campaign trail.  VOTE NO ON ISSUE 1!

Issue 1 Debate at Political Animals - July 19th at 11:30 - Next Level Events

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Jesse Gibson will participate in an Issue 1 debate this July 19th at 11:30, sponsored by the Political Animals Club.  The debate will be held at Next Level Events in Little Rock, Arkansas, at 1400 West Markham Street in Little Rock, Arkansas.  You can get your tickets through the Political Animals Club by clicking on the link below.  See you there!  It should be a great debate, with great information why you should vote AGAINST Issue 1 this fall.  

Issue 1 Debated at the Arkansas Bar Convention

Issue 1 was the hot topic of debate at the Arkansas Bar Convention in Hot Springs a few weeks ago.  A legislative panel addressed the topic at length, and many of the sponsors of the proposed constitutional amendment were grilled and their motivations questioned.  Click the link to read the article from the Hot Springs Sentinel Record.  Judge for yourself whether elected officials in Arkansas side with their constituents or the monied special interests and lobbyists that swarm the Capitol during the session.

Views From the Campaign Trail

Many of you are aware that I have been campaigning almost non-stop since January 1st against Issue 1, the proposed Constitutional Amendment that will be on your ballot this fall and commonly referred to as "tort reform."  I have urged voters all across the Natural State to vote AGAINST Issue 1.  I have to tell you, the response has been overwhelming.  I have met with literally thousands of voters, and the response is deafening.  The people do NOT want this proposal to pass.  The special interests and dark money forces are going to have to rely on misdirection and misinformation to be successful.  I have been encouraged by the civic engagement of the people all across our state.  I've been from Paragould to Texarkana.  From Bentonville to Dumas.  I'll write some lyrics some day and record my own version of Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere."   Until then, here are some pics from the campaign trail.


Jesse Gibson Named President-Elect of Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association

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I was recently named President-Elect of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA) for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.  I am scheduled to serve as the organization's President in 2018-2019.  During my time as President in 2018, SJR8, the legislatively referred question from the most recent legislative session, commonly called tort "reform" will be on the ballot.  SJR8 seeks to place an arbitrary value on human life, regardless of circumstance or the egregious actions of the wrongdoer, of $500,000.00.  It also seeks to wrestle rule-making authority from the courts and place it in the hands of the legislature, where all judicial rules will be subject to massive influxes of lobbying dollars from special interests seeking to stack the deck and rig the game in their favor to ultimately pad their bottom lines.  This effort is but the first in a series of many that will ultimately seize freedoms from the people and place them in the hands of special interests.  Your freedoms will be on your ballot in 2018.  I hope you protect them by voting NO.  

I look forward to serving as President-Elect and ultimately as President of ATLA.  I look forward to traveling the state and having conversations about the power grab under way by special interests via SJR8.  I am committed to fighting for and protecting Arkansans.  I anticipate coming to your town soon!  In the meantime, I urge you to educate yourself about SJR8 and vote NO in November, 2018!




Jesse Gibson Elected to Arkansas Bar Association House of Delegates


This summer, I was honored to be elected to the Arkansas Bar Association House of Delegates.  In my short time in that capacity, I have enjoyed serving and offering my perspectives to fellow Bar members.  I am committed to doing all I can to serve the attorneys of this state as they fight every day to advocate for truth, justice, and equity.  Whether it be to fight against greedy special interests or personal wrongdoers, attorneys are the last best line of defense to the hard working citizens of Arkansas.  I look forward to my term and welcome any input or thoughts about how to better serve the Bar.  

Arkansas Attorney General Does Not Join Objections to Rollbacks of Nursing Home Patient Protections

This is a discouraging but unsurprising development in Arkansas.  The Trump administration is attempting to roll back regulations that prevented nursing homes from forcing the families of the elderly and infirm to sign arbitration agreements that limited their rights to bring legal action in the face of abuse or neglect.  Execution of these agreements not only normally waives the rights of families to seek redress in courts, but they often allow the nursing home to select the arbitrator, which is often one predisposed and biased towards the nursing homes' position.  Imagine a pitcher who gets to pre-select an umpire to call balls and strikes to his liking.  The potential for abuse is evident.

Attorneys General from sixteen states have objected to this giveaway to monied special interests, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.  Unfortunately, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has refused to join in these objections.  The message to patients and families in Arkansas is clear:  Not only are you on your own if your loved one goes into the nursing home.  The deck will be stacked against you should your loved one be abused or neglected.




Damage Caps in Arkansas Would Have No Impact on Physician Supply

Myth: If Arkansas does not pass damage caps, Arkansas risks losing doctors to states that have caps on non-economic damages.

Truth: Caps on damages have no impact on physician supply.

    How do we make decisions? Do we use fear or facts?  When fear and the emotions related to fear take over our decision making process, facts don’t matter.  People who understand human decision making have studied this phenomenon over and over.  And the startling truth is that fear trumps facts.  Sadly, this truth of human behavior is used by many powerful forces in our world today to manipulate public perceptions to achieve their own goals and desires.

     And when it comes to the subject of caps on damages, fear is the number one weapon being used by the medical industry and the insurance companies who profit from it.  How do they do it?  

     First of all, these powerful forces know that the need and desire for healthcare is one of the most important issues to each and every person.  When we are sick or injured, we want the best of care, we want it now, and we do not want to go bankrupt in the process of providing that care to our loved ones.  Medical care is necessary to our very survival.  And there is nothing more fearful than to think that the unexpected moment you or a loved one needs care, it will not be there.  It can create a sense of panic to think that the hospital emergency room might be closed, or that there may not be a doctor available.  

     So, these powerful forces start telling everyone that lawyers and lawsuits are the reason for all of the problems with health care; and in particular, they say that the cost of litigation is closing hospitals and causing doctors to leave the state for states that do have caps on damages.  So, if you don’t want your doctor to leave town, you need to agree to cap damages.  It really is that simple.

     The problem is that there is no truth in these claims.  None.  These powerful forces are lying to the public and betraying our trust.  And why are they doing it?  Because they profit when they are not held accountable for their actions that hurt people.

     So, let’s look at the facts.

  1. Three new studies by esteemed academics in the field of medical malpractice research confirm for the first time that “caps” lead to more medical errors, higher health costs and no increase in patient care physicians.

    The authors examined physician supply in nine states that enacted capsand compared the data to other states, like Arkansas, that does not have caps. Their research found “no evidence that cap adoption predicts an increase in total patient care physicians, in specialties that face high med mal risk (except plastic surgeons), or in rural physicians.” Specifically:

  • “[W]e find no evidence that the adoption of damage caps increased physician supply in nine new-cap states, relative to twenty states.”
  • “Consistent with this analysis, we also find no association between med mal claim rates and physician supply in state and county fixed effects regressions over 1995-2011.”
  • “Physician supply does not seem elastic to med mal risk. Thus, the states that want to attract more physicians should look elsewhere.”

2.    “Does tort reform affect physician supply? Evidence from Texas,” University of Illinois Professor of Law and Medicine David A. Hyman et al., 2015.

    The methodology of this study, which controls for every conceivable factor, is so accurate that a national “tort reform” proponent admitted changing his mind about the issue after examining his work.

  • A “core argument” behind the “tort reform” campaign was that “Texas was hemorrhaging physicians and limiting lawsuits would stop the bleeding. Consistent with this theme, the core pro-tort-reform lobbying organization was named ‘Texas Association for Patient Access’ (‘TAPA’).
  • “[T]he assertion by tort reform proponents that Texas experiences an ‘amazing turnaround’ after suffering an ‘exodus of doctors from 2001 through 2003’ is doubly false. There was neither an exodus before reform nor a dramatic increase after reform.”
  • “[T]ort reform did not solve Texas’ physician supply issues.”
  • Rural Areas. “[T]here is no evidence that tort reform materially affected the supply of DPC physicians, primary care physicians, high-risk specialists, or physicians practicing in rural areas.”

“Physician supply appears to be primarily driven by factors other than liability risk, including population trends, location of the physician’s residency, job opportunities within the physician’s specialty, lifestyle choices, and demand for medical services, including the extent to which the population is insured.”

3.    “The Empirical Effects of Tort Reform,” Cornell University Law School Professor Theodore Eisenberg, 2012.

    “If increasing premiums drive exit decisions, then programs alleviating premiums should have effects. But Smits et al. (2009) surveyed all obstetrical care providers in Oregon in 2002 and 2006. Cost of malpractice premiums was the most frequently cited reason for stopping maternity care. An Oregon subsidy program for rural physicians pays 80 percent of the professional liability premium for an ob/gyn and 60 percent of the premium for a family or general practitioner. Receiving a malpractice subsidy was not associated with continuing maternity services by rural physicians. Subsidized physicians were as likely as nonsubsidized physicians to report plans to stop providing maternity care services. And physician concerns in Oregon should be interpreted in light of the NCSC finding, described above, that this was a period of substantial decline of Oregon medical malpractice lawsuit filings.”

    4.    Dartmouth Medical School Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy David Goodman, M.D., M.S., 2009.

    Goodman is co-investigator of the highly respected Dartmouth Atlas, which analyzes and ranks health care spending and has been the basis of a lot of discussion about why certain areas of the county are so costly. In an email to the Center for Justice & Democracy, he said: “We haven’t explicitly analyzed this, but I agree with the impression that physician supply in general bears no relationship to state tort reform, or lack thereof.”

    5.    “Young Doctors and Wish Lists: No Weekend Calls, No Beepers,” New York Times, 2004.

    “Today’s medical residents, half of them women, are choosing specialties with what experts call a ‘controllable lifestyle.’… What young doctors say they want is that ‘when they finish their shift, they don’t carry a beeper; they’re done,’ said Dr. Gregory W. Rutecki, chairman of medical education at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, a community hospital affiliated with the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University… “Lifestyle considerations accounted for 55 percent of a doctor’s choice of specialty in 2002.”

    “…income, which accounted for only 9 percent of the weight prospective residents gave in selecting a specialty.”

Remember the great movie, “A Few Good Men” when the prosecuting attorney ended his closing argument with resounding confidence….  “These are the facts; and they are not in dispute”  The powerful forces that are behind the current tort reform movement in Arkansas hope you will disregard these facts, or choose to ignore them.  These proponents include people who have engaged in bribing a judge to reduce a verdict entered against him by a jury of the community.  These powerful forces hope to rely upon fear andignorance.  But, as we pull back the curtain, a new set of emotions should take over as we see that the people of Arkansas are being lied to; are being betrayed; and ultimately, if the Amendment passes, thrown under the bus when they or a loved one are injured and the courthouses of this State are no longer available to them for justice.  Stand with us.


HB 1753 - Bill to Abolish "Made Whole" Returns - More Insurance Giveaways that Harm YOU

The Arkansas General Assembly is back at it again this week, attempting to pass legislation that fattens insurance bottom lines while sticking it to their own constituents.  You might remember two years ago during the 2015 legislative session, when then-Rep. Micah Neal (R - Springdale) attempted to introduce HB 1907, which would gut what is known as the "made whole" doctrine.  Due to a groundswell of opposition, Rep. Neal tabled the bill and it died a justifiable death.  Right now, Rep. Neal has bigger legal fish to fry.

Never ones to be outdone, Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) and Senator Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) have revived this bill, which is being championed and pushed by big insurance companies.  You know, good government groups like Allstate, State Farm, Shelter, and Farmers.  All those friends of the people.  These insurance companies must be struggling financially, because this bill would allow them to reach into their customers' pockets.  Here's how "made whole" works:

Oftentimes, when a person is injured by the negligence of a third party and no fault of their own, the injured party's insurance company pays benefits for the health care the injured party receives.  Makes sense, right?  You paid your premiums for health insurance in case something bad happens, and something bad happened.  That's what it's there for, right?  But we all know that insurance companies don't really like paying claims, do they?  So they often seek "subrogation," where they step into the shoes of their insured and seek to have those benefits reimbursed by the negligent third party's insurance carrier. 

The made whole doctrine provides that unless and until the injured party is "made whole," the insurance has no right of subrogation.  Unless the person who is injured has been fully paid for all of the injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc, then and only then does the health insurance carrier have any right to be reimbursed or to "subrogate."  Makes sense again, right?  Been the law in Arkansas for years and years and years . . . until the 90th Arkansas General Assembly got together.

This bill would do away with the made whole doctrine and provide that the first entity that had to be paid out of any settlement or jury verdict is . . .who?  The injured party?  Nope.  Your insurance carrier.  Oh, but the health insurance carrier has to repay all the premiums they collected from you, right?  That would only be fair, right?  Nope.  They get to collect your premium payments and stick them in their pocket AND take money out of any settlement or verdict to repay them for the benefits they paid.  They get paid on both sides of the equation.  It's a classic double dip.

Why is this bad?  Several reasons.

1.  It requires ordinary folks who purchase insurance with their hard earned money to act as their insurance company's collection agency.  They get your premiums on the front end, and then you are pressed into service to get that same insurance company's money on the back end.  Didn't you pay them in the first place to cover you if something happens?  Guess what?  You now work for them and your insurance company gets a windfall.

2.  It's free to the insurance companies.  You and your lawyer pay through the nose.  The bill provides that no cost of collection or attorney's fees are payable to either the insured or their attorney.  Again, the insurance carrier hits the jackpot and you foot the bill.  

3.  Cases can never settle if this passes.  If you know you have to repay your insurance company every single dime before you ever see a dollar of any settlement or verdict, no one will ever have the impetus to settle a case.  The result will be even MORE litigation, MORE expense, and MORE uncertainty.  It will hardly ever make sense to settle a case, because it will almost universally go to your insurance carrier.  There will also be MORE dollars pumped into the insurance company's bottom lines.

4.   This applies to all kinds of insurance.  Not just health insurance.  Homeowners, MedPay or PIP, car insurance.  Everything.  All coverage.  You will now have a second job as a collection agency for every single insurance company you have coverage with if, God forbid, they actually have to pay something when you make a claim.

This is slot machine legislation.  Insurance companies take your premiums hand over fist every month and when they have to pay back, they enslave you and your lawyer to go get it back for them.  This is bad policy.  This is bad law.  Contact your legislator and urge them to vote against HB 1753.  The In-Session House number is (501) 682-6111.  The In-Session Senate number is (501) 682-2902.  Here are the sponsors' contact information.  Contact them DIRECTLY:

Rep. Charlie Collins.  (479) 283-9303.  clcollins6@cox.net

Sen. Jason Rapert.  (501) 336-0918.  jason.rapert@senate.ar.gov

SB 176 Would Restrict Nursing Home Employees from Obtaining Petition Signatures from Residents

Senator Bryan King (R)- Green Forest filed SB 176 today.  The bill would prohibit employees of nursing home facilities or long term care facilities from obtaining petition signatures at the facility where they are employed.  Here is a copy of the bill.

You may remember the situation that was discussed on this blog where nursing home administrators and employees combed the nursing homes where they worked to get their patients to sign in support of Issue 4, a giveaway to nursing homes and lobbyists.  Marci Manley of KARK did great reporting on that horrible situation and the potential for serious abuse.  Please watch her story here.

This bill would protect vulnerable seniors from being presented with petitions that they may not be able to understand or comprehend.  Although it was only recently filed, watch this blog for updates on this piece of legislation and others as the 2017 General Assembly moves forward.

Issue 4 Ruled Invalid and Removed from Ballot. General Session Looms Large.

Arkansas Judiciary 

Arkansas Judiciary 

On October 13, 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in the case of Ross v. Martin that Issue 4, also known by its (not very) popular title "An Amendment to Limit Attorney Contingency Fees and Non-Economic Damages in Medical Lawsuits," was thrown off the November ballot.  The Court ruled unanimously, 7-0, that the ballot title was insufficient, in that it provides absolutely no guidance or definition as to what constitutes "non-economic damages."  

This decision was in accord with the companion case of Wilson v. Martin, which was sponsored by the Arkansas Bar Association, and challenged the ballot title on the same grounds the Committee to Protect AR Families utilized in Ross.  Remarkably, in the accompanying petition challenge trial, one of Issue 4's sponsors, Chase Dugger, despite being asked multiple times, could not cogently or intelligently define what non-economic damage were.  He further testified under oath in the petition challenge trial that "Joe Blow Arkansan doesn't understand what non-economic damages are."  The Supreme Court agreed, and invalidated Issue 4, directing the Secretary of State to not count any votes cast for or against the measure.  

It seemed clear during the signature challenge trial that Health Care Access for Arkansans, the group sponsoring Issue 4, knew truth and honesty would be fatal to their proposed constitutional amendment.  They instructed their canvassers to mislead potential petition signers by not mentioning that the amendment would cap such things as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and the value of their loved ones' lives.  This is because they certainly knew Arkansans would not give up their rights when armed with knowledge.  So they chose to be deceptive, and told signers that it only applied to capping lawyer's fees who file frivolous lawsuits.  In fact, their own training materials and talking points clearly showed their deceptive procedures.

In the immediate aftermath of this decision from the Arkansas Supreme Court, some lawmakers have publicly stated that they will go into the 2017 legislative session and attempt to do what Health Care for Arkansans, headed up by the aforementioned Chase Dugger and Dan Greenberg spent nearly a million dollars and failed in doing.  Senator Bart Hester has proclaimed that tort reform measures like this will be a high priority to refer to the people for a vote in 2018.  The legislature has the discretion to refer three such proposed amendments to our state constitution each session.  People like Senator Hester will always side with corporate nursing homes, big insurance, and business insiders instead of you and your loved ones.

So what does this mean?  It means that your 7th Amendment rights are intact, but that are UNDER ATTACK.  Arm yourself with knowledge about what these provisions will do and how they will harm you and your family.  Arm yourself with information and stay tuned to my blog for information.  And most of all, be prepared to contact your legislator to make sure he or she knows that you do not support placing an arbitrary, one size fits all cap on the value of the most precious thing we hold dear:  Human life.  

Gibson Law Firm Offers Contingency Fee Arrangements for Commercial and Business Litigation

Historically, contingency fee agreements have been the working man's keys to their local courthouse.  For most working folks, paying an hourly rate of $100 or $200 an hour is simply not realistic.  Therefore, contingency fee cases allow the law firm to assume all risks of winning and losing via the prepayment of all case costs and no hourly charges for work performed.  In return, the firm is entitled to for a percentage of recovery (if any occurs) and repayment of costs without interest or surcharge.  This arrangement allows normal, everyday folks to pursue cases against large corporations, insurance companies, or other entities that could (and often would) spend them into oblivion and deny or delay justice.

This normal fee arrangement has traditionally applied to personal injury cases.  But times, they are a-changin'.  Many commercial business disputes or debt collection cases are being handled these days on just these same terms.  Why?  It's a good deal for clients and the attorneys.  Most contract cases have the potential for the winner to be repaid attorney's fees by statute.  Therefore, even if a percentage of recovery is paid to attorneys, as well as costs, it may actually be reimbursed by motion to the court by the winning party.  It can be a win-win.

At Gibson Law Firm, we have an extensive background in commercial and business litigation.  For several years prior to the firm's general focus on personal injury and medical negligence cases, the firm handled almost exclusively business and commercial litigation.  If you are a small business or business owner, and are in a commercial dispute and need representation, but are wary of onerous hourly fee obligations, please call Gibson Law Firm at (501) 371-9051 and discuss representation on a contingency fee arrangement.  We offer varying percentages of recovery arrangements based on responsibility of costs.  Please call or email to JGibson@jessegibsonlaw.com to see if these work for your business and commercial needs.

Medical Errors are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. Trailing Only Cancer and Heart Disease

If you were put on the spot, and asked what the top three leading causes of death were in the U.S., what would you say?  Cancer, right?  Check.  Every single person on this planet has been touched or affected by cancer.  I can name multiple family members and even close friends who have succumbed to this horrible, awful disease.  Heart disease?  Check.  Much like cancer, heart disease has affected untold people.  Our eating habits, lack of exercise, and culture undoubtedly play a huge role, but regardless of the cause, we all are way too familiar with heart disease.

But number three?  Hmm.  Toxin exposure?  Drunk drivers?  Nope and nope.  Medical errors.  A recent study performed at Johns Hopkins found that there are upwards of 251,454 deaths in the United States EACH YEAR as a result of medical errors.  That is a group of people greater than the population of Little Rock killed by medical errors.  EACH YEAR.  And the researchers feel that this number is on the very low end of statistical data, given that a large number of errors go unreported.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found in 2008 there were 195,000 deaths by medical error among Medicare patients alone.  These include the elderly and disabled, those that we value and want to protect the most.  The Johns Hopkins researches urge modification and reform in the way deaths are recorded and reported by requiring all death certificates to have a space to mark that the death was a result of a medical error.  It is the researchers' belief that such a change would lead to a staggering number of medical error deaths that they hope would eventually lead to widespread reform in medical care.  

An article from CNN is linked below.  Please read it and all information to educate yourself about the dangers of medical errors.  You and your loved ones could be affected or killed.  As you read, ask yourself "How many deaths due to medical errors is an acceptable amount?"  And then ask "How many deaths of MY family members is an acceptable amount?" These situations are more widespread than many would like to admit, even to themselves.  


Please, Please, Please Do Not Disclaim Medpay, Underinsured, and Uninsured Coverage

Often, when I meet with clients, it is days or weeks after the worst days (or one of them) of their life.  Either they or a loved one has been in a horrible accident, and they need lots of medical care.  Or they are injured due to someone else's negligence, but quickly learn that the person that hit them only has the statutory minimum insurance coverage of $25,000 per person, and they are faced with bills 5 times that amount.  Or even worse yet, they are hit by someone with no insurance coverage at all.  

Sometimes when faced with these situations, and I ask "What kind of insurance coverage do you have?" I am met with blank stares because they don't know.  This is entirely common.  Most folks buy insurance because they are legally required to, and never give it a second thought.  This is an easily solvable problem.  The real tragedy occurs when I locate their declarations page and discover they have disclaimed med pay (PIP) coverage, Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, or Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage.  This decision saved them a few bucks every six months when they purchased their policy, which sounded like a great deal.  Little did they know that they might need that coverage in case the worst happened.  When someone injures you, and you need additional insurance coverage to help pay for medical care or lost wages, those few bucks seem wholly insignificant.

I try to educate my clients one at a time of the value of purchasing the most med pay, UIM, and UM coverage they can afford.  As you might guess, I am insured out the wazoo, and my med pay, UIM, and UM coverage is about $40 every 6 months.  So don't skimp.  Don't try to save what is the equivalent of a pizza dinner for your family.  Spend the money and get as much med pay, UIM, and UM coverage as you can afford.  You only need it when you need it, and old Benjamin Franklin is right in this regard.  An ounce of prevention is worth (MUCH MORE) than a pound of cure.  #arlx


Defrocked Circuit Judge Mike Maggio Receives Maximum 10 Year Sentence

It was reported today by the Arkansas Times that former circuit judge Mike Maggio received the maximum 10 year sentence from federal judge Brian Miller.  The case involved accepting a bribe to reduce a nursing home verdict in Faulkner County from $5.2 million to $1.0 million.  In imposing the maximum sentence that was in line with the sentencing report, Judge Miller remarked that a dirty judge was more dangerous than a dope dealer, because a dirty judge made the entire public lose faith in the entire judicial system.  

Judge Maggio had sought to withdraw his guilty plea in recent days.  After that went nowhere, he begged for leniency and mercy due to a myriad of unconvincing reasons.  It is unknown where he will serve his time.  He can apparently receive some sentence reductions if he begins complying with his plea agreement and cooperates with federal investigators about the actions of his co-conspirators.  

As an editorial aside, I expect Mr. Maggio to begin cooperating post haste.  If he was concerned about serving serious jail time, that possibility just got very, very real.  I imagine there are some very concerned parties in Conway and Forth Smith tonight.  Gilbert Baker and Michael Morton cannot have much faith that Mr. Maggio will willingly serve out his time when he could minimize it by implicating them with everything he has.  This case has long bothered me, as it only serves to confirm what many believe, right or wrong, happens all the time.  The damage to the justice system in the public's eye is immeasurable.  Updates as they happen.