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There has been a lot of discussions in recent months on abolishing the Missouri Court Plan, which provides that, in all appellate courts, including the Missouri Supreme Court, and some county courts, judges will be appointed by the governor from an approved and vetted panel. Those judges will then stand for retention in an election. This has been how Missouri selects and retains its judges for many years. The plan is so successful, that it is hailed around the country as a model to be followed.

But, since Democrat Governor Jay Nixon was elected in 2008, conservatives and business political groups have called for an end to the Missouri Court Plan. (Never mind that they had no problem with the plan when a Republican was doing the appointing …) It has become a main attack point in these highly partisan political times.

Dismantling the Missouri Court Plan is a bad idea. A very bad idea. And you have to look no further than our neighbor Illinois to know why. Illinois elects its judges, including Supreme Court justices. And tens of millions of dollars have been spent in those campaigns in recent years. And what do contributors get for their money? Anything they want.

This article from the Chicago Tribune tells the story in all its sordid detail. Basically, Justice Lloyd Karmeier, a southern Illinois Republican, was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 2004 in a race that cost over $9,000,000.

A $1.18 billion dollar judgment had been entered against State Farm if a class action case for breach of contract in providing non-original manufacturer parts in its collision repairs and hiding that fact from its insureds. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judgment and then it mades its way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

In filings with the Illinois Supreme Court this week, attorneys for the plaintiffs have alleged and provided supporting documents to demonstrate that Justice Karmeier was actually recruited by State Farm to run for the seat on the Illinois Supreme Court in anticipation of the case being heard. These Court filings indicate that directly and through other entities, State Farm donated between $2.5 million and $4 million dollars to Karemeier’s campaign.

Obviously, I don’t know whether these allegations are true or not. If they are true, it is an eerie parallel to supposed fiction, like John Grisham’s “The Appeal”. If it is true, it is a one of the greatest acts of fraud ever perpetrated.

And even if its not true, it just goes to show you that, inherently, electing judges is fraught with danger. Compare it to the recent Republican debate, in which Governor Perry of Texas said “I’m offended that you think I could be bought with $5,000.” Left unsaid was that he could be bought for $350,000 in campaign contributions. If these allegations are true, State Farm made a damn good investment in Justice Karmeier. $4,000,000 to overturn a $1+ billion dollar judgment? Sounds like a hell of a return on their investment to me.

Medtronic medication pumps are widely used to deliver pain medication, anti-spasm medication and other prescriptions directly into the spinal cord. And the FDA has determined that these pumps can cause serious harm. The FDA has issued a Class 1 recall.

The SynchroMed II implantable pumps, models 8637-20 and 8637-40 are the subject of the recall which has been reported here. A Class 1 recall means that these pumps have a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death. The pumps are failing, apparently due to a defective design relating to the battery.

These pumps are surgically implanted under the skin with delivery tubes placed to the point of delivery. Medtronic is not recommending that the pumps be removed and replaced at this point, says MedPage Today.

If you or a loved one has experienced a failure related to one of these pain pumps, or if you have one of these pumps implanted, you should contact our office to discuss your legal rights. Contact us at 314-721-8833 or at www.stlmedicalmalpractice.com.

The Missouri Board of Healing Arts, the entity that disciplines doctors in Missouri, has been given new powers by the legislature, and those changes to the law have now gone into effect, reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch. That’s a good thing. Among other things, the new law makes it easier for the Missouri Board of Healing Arts to suspend a doctors license on an emergency basis. Probably of most use to the average patient, the new law provides a way for patients to learn more about their doctors, including licenses, board certification, discipline and whether the doctor has been disciplined by another state. Previously this information was literally a state secret. The Missouri Board of Healing Arts didn’t disclose that information.

These changes should make the Missouri Board of Healing Arts more adept at disciplining dangerous doctors. You would think so. But the Board’s first action since the law took effect belies that thought.

You may recall the series of articles the Post Dispatch ran in late 2010 exposing the dismal record of the Board in disciplining doctors in Missouri. One of the featured “doctors” was Krishnarao V. Rednam, who was convicted of overcharging patients and their insurance companies more than $600,000 and destroying patient records. He would bill Medicare for expensive drugs but inject his patients at the St. Louis Eye Clinic with watered down doses or substitute experimental drugs. Rednam was sentenced to 6 months in prison and 4 months of home confinement and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in restitution and fines.

In one of the few cases where the Board of Healing Arts actually acted, it revoked his license until at least 2015. Mind you, this action came only after he had been convicted. But in a stunning reversal, Rednam appealed to the Board to allow him to regain his license. And, reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Board granted that request.

Rednam’s excuse for his actions that led to his conviction? Irrational insanity! Irrational insanity–and you give him back his license to practice medicine? Are you kidding? Know what I call that?

Irrational Insanity.

The Chicago Sun-Times has reported here the the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a $29,000,000 verdict against doctors and nurses at a federal government-funded clinic that left a common neonatal blood infection untreated for twelve hours, resulting in irreversible brain damage.

Christian Arroyo’s life would have been perfectly normal, had a timely diagnosis been made. Antibiotics would have cleared the infection. Instead, Christian suffers from spastic quadraplegia with cerebral palsy who will require a life-time of care.