The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on September 20, 1991 · Page 5
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September 20, 1991

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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 5

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Friday, September 20, 1991
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A-6Comment the Cincinnati i.nqi iki r rrid.i). September 20, m mm n m s y THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER WILLIAM J. KEATING Chairman and Publisher GEORGE R. BLAKE Editor, Vice President THOMAS E. DUNNING Managing Editor THOMAS S. GEPHARDT Associate Editor DARRYL W. EVERETT Vice President, Advertising WILLIAM R. JOHNSTON Vice President, Circulation MARK S. MIKOIAJCZYK Vice President, Production JAMES A. SCHWARTZ Vice President, Finance GERALD T. SILVERS Vice President, Marketing Services A Gannett Newspaper Iraq Hussein has failed to learn that he must comply with U.N. judge legal system weapons and ballistic missiles. U.N. inspection teams have been frustrated trying to track elements in what turned out to be three Iraqi programs to build a nuclear bomb. An Iraq with only a crude atomic weapon would be intolerable. The country's unprovoked Scud-missile strikes on Israel offer scant comfort Hussein wouldn't use an A-bomb in the effort to blackmail his neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. That's why President Bush was right to put U.S. armed forces on alert for a possible new strike against Iraq and order additional anti-Scud Patriot missiles for Saudi Arabia (Israel has Patriots now). "I Lliink the man (Hussein) will see we are very serious about this," Mr. Bush snid. "He's not going to question our resolve on this." Buc if U.S. warplanes must attack Iraq again, they shouldn't stop until the job is complete. Hussein's next lesson should clearly be one he won't forget if he survives it. Iraq's Saddam Hussein is a slow learner. He may well require yet another lesson if he fails swiftly to give U.N. inspection teams unrestricted access to all his weapons programs. Incredibly, he seems to have forgotten how badly he was defeated in the gulf war. It may reflect his self-deception not uncommon in dictators and gross misperception that Iraq somehow triumphed by standing up, however feebly, to the immense force arrayed against it. President Bush, in any case, can count on strong bipartisan support if he resumes air strikes to force Iraq to comply with U.N. mandates. He will also have U.N. Security Council support. Operation Desert Storm would have taught any rational Iraqi leader that the United States and United Nations mean business. Yet Hussein repeatedly flouts U.N. -commands to show aiJ tell all about his nuclear materials, chemical and biological Should they file suit, they automatically receive a minimum of 33'j or 35 or 40 of whatever is collected, depending upon the agreement with the claimant. Some outstandingly successful attorneys have contracted for a higher percentage of the award. This system is prohibited in every free country of the world except Spain and the United States. The 'attorney in other countries works for an hourly or daily fee or for financial reward somewhat related to what we may consider time and expense. A percentage of the award is denied the attorney in these other countries. Is there an incentive under our U.S. system to make aggressive attorneys encourage clients to litigate?. Does our system provide attorneys with a personal motive to encourage the filing of a suit? Should the Cincinnati Insurance Companies, which have responded to lawsuits rather successfully as earlier outlined in this article, have paid the amounts that attorneys requested either in negotiations or later in the suits? Attorney Chesley says these suits are "not frivolous or unnecessary actions" against our 4. 1 A ' J- A- K? 1 Memos Zion Baptist pastor leaves a record of city leadership Let people BY JOHX J. SCHiFF Guest Columnist Stanley M. Chesley's Sept. 6 guest column, "Ours Is a People's Legal Sys tem, was very factual and very interesting, and was an excellent commentary on the American legal system. He raised a number of issues which possibly might not have been completely addressed. Here are some additional facts for you, the readers, to examine in order to determine if our country is in a period of excess litigation. Lets examine the Aug. 22, 1991, record of thej Cincinnati Insurance Companies' lawsuits, both closed and incoming lawsuits in the previous 30-day peri od. Here are some interesting facts takpn from the records of these m-house cases.' In Ohio, we had 81 new lawsuits filed against our policyholders in the previous 30 days. We concluded 49 lawsuits during this same period. Some of the 49 lawsuits closed were originally filed "for recovery of an unspecified amount. The remaining lawsuits asked for a specific amount in dollars in the amount of $8,761,207. The court dismissed a number of these lawsuits. Some suits were voluntarily dismissed. Some cases were settled for lesser amounts; combined settlements of all 49 cases totaled $896,793. Serious charge Attorney Chesley stated that insurers "are presently unwilling to divest and pay even when liability is absolute unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. Attorneys do not advocate that insurance companies be forced to settle suits in which liability is questioned, but this unwillingness to resolve clear-cut cases constitutes a disservice to the insured and the claimants." This is a serious allegation. Given the above facts about a sample 30-day period, do you think it has merit? You be the judge. Vice President Quayle, on Aug. 13, referred to the need for reform of certain aspects of the American legal system. He said certain litigation is "frivolous, spiteful or otherwise unnecessary and constitutes a heavy drain on American business." The illustration listed above is the factual record of one insurance company for one state for a 30-day period. The records of many other companies are quite similar. Our records clearly indicate an increase in lawsuits against our policyholders at a rate exceeding the rate of inflation and exceeding the rate of increased personal income in the United States. Should the public ask the question, "Are we, as policyholders, willing to Avondale's Zion Baptist Church paid a farewell tribute the other day to the Rev. Edward L. Wheeler, pastor of the church for the last six years, who will become dean of the chapel and professor of religion and society at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala. His leaving Zion is not just a loss for that congregation, but for Cincinnati. His contributions to this community extended far beyond his pulpit. His was a forceful voice of leadership in religious, civic, social, educational as well as economic endeavors. Under the leadership of his predecessor, the Rev L. Venchael Booth, Zion Baptist became a leader among churches. It was the first black church in Cincinnati to become a pioneer in housing and business development for the black community. Zion was also the birthplace of the Progressive Baptist Convention in 1961, an organization founded by the Rev. Mr. Booth that has become a world renowned religious group. The Rev. Mr. Wheeler's departure is a distinct loss to Cincinnati because of the leadership role Zion has established in the black community. James R. Hunt is richly entitled to the reception next Monday marking his retirement after 20 years as director-librarian of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The reception is being sponsored by the library's board of trustees and the Friends of the Public Library. Cincinnati and Hamilton County are intensely proud of their library system John J. Schiff . . . courts have a good record bear the increased costs which insurance companies are experiencing?" The Dublic is entitled to know more about the punitive damages which attorney Chesley discussed in his article. Punitive damage is the amount of money awarded by a court in excess of and in addition to the damage award. A punitive damage award is really a bonus that the sufferer receives. It represents no economic adjustment. It is perhaps comparable to a fine. But neither the government nor any government agency receives any part of the punitive award. If the government feels so strongly that there should be a detriment against willful behavior, should the government share in a punitive award in a manner similar to the collection of fines? The recipient of a punitive award receives an extra payment much as in the winning of a lottery or the granting of an unearned stipend in addition to what has been awarded for damages. The attorney generally receives approximately 30-50 of the punitive damage award. Should punitive damages be part of our system of making financial awards to injured parties? Attorney Chesley says, finally, that The Enquirer's comparison of the Japanese legal system to the American legal system is ludicrous. May we discuss some features of the American legal system which were not mentioned in the previous Enquirer article? Attorneys in the United States are paid through the contingent-fee system. They generally receive any amount of payment up to approximately 25 or perhaps 30 of whatever is collected for a claimant. t Hawaii has had universal coverage for almost 20 years. II J access to a miserly set of health services by cutting the benefits available to poor women and children who receive coverage from the state's MedicH program. Those who concocted this misguided plnn blather on incessantly about the need to limit benefits in order to achieve both greater access and cost containment. It ain't so. In order to see that universal coverage of the sort now on the table in Minnesota is affordable, those struggling to create universal access need to look beyond Oregon, all the way to Hawaii. Hawaii has had universal coverage for all state residents for almost 20 years, and it has not engaged in Oregon-style rationing schemes to pay the bill. Basically, Hawaii requires all employers to make health insurance available while using state subsidies and a state insurance pool to pick up anyone without a job. Guess what? It works. Big and small businesses are happy because their workers are healthier and happier. Providers one of the most used in America In the two decades of Mr. Hunt's service, circulation has grown from 3 million items a year to 4 million. Such popularity doesn't just hap pen. It stems from farsighted leader ship and effective teamwork. Library users for generations to come will appreciate Mr. Hunt's contribution. After years of neglect, the Auburn Avenue birthplace of President William Howard Taft has become a genuine Cincinnati landmark. One reason is the community's support of the annual William Howard Taft dinner, spon sored every year by the University of Cincinnati College of Law, the Friends of the William Howard Taft Birth place, the National Park Service and the Cincinnati Bar Association. This year's dinner is coming Sept 26 at the Museum Center at Union Terminal, with U.S. Solicitor Genera Kenneth W. Star as the speaker. He practiced law in Los Angeles and Washington before being appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Now, as solicitor general, he represents the United States in most pleadings before the U.S. Supreme Court. Quite apart from being the only person to serve as both president and chief justice of the United States William Howard Taft was a highly honored Cincinnatian and part of a family that continues to contribute significantly to the well-being ot Cin cinnati and Ohio. The preservation 0: his birthplace deserves the communi ty's continuing support. chairman, and Donald M. Feuerstein former general counsel. The four resigned after revelations of Salomon's unauthorized, excessive bidding on Treasury notes and reports they knew but failed to inform the government of it. The government is also investigating Salomon clients to determine whether they tried to hog two-year Treasury notes. Warren E. Buffett, Salomon's new chairman, must make sure his firm abides by Treasury rules and recog nizes its responsibility to Wall Street reputation. The U.S. economy scarce ly needs new scandals. policyholders. Above-average performance Attorney Chesley says, "Our citizens have been given many rights which we fiercely protect." We, too, are proud of this fact. We are proud especially in Ohio that we have a better delivery of lpgal services by the attorneys and by, the courts than we have in most other states. We are essentially concerned that our courts be reasonable, be fair, be just and consider all aspects of every case. Our courts have a record of above-average performance. Our Ohio Supreme Court has comparably a better record of rendering justice than most state supreme courts. We are very concerned in the insurance business that qualified, responsible judges react with honor, common sense and dedication in every case. The system of court review has enabled insurance companies to be profitable in Ohio and at the same time to offer policyholders automobile insurance rates that average approximately the 42nd lowest of the fifty states. You, the public, are the judges of attorney Chesley's view, the vice 'president's view and my own view on whether there is some excess litigation. You be the judge. John J. Schiff is chairman of the executive committee for Cincinnati Insurance Companies. coverage are happy. State officials are happy because costs are kept low through tough fee-sotting :u"."tiations with providers and a :,rong emphasis on prevention. In fact, Hawaii's program works so well that its legislators are mystified that other states are not following suit. As Hawaii state Sen. Andrew Levin recently told me, "Oregon's plan is a moral disaster. Our approach gives everyone a generous package of services at a low cost. We have some of the best health statistics in the country and, by making sure thai everyone is covered for prevention as well as treatment, among the lowest costs." Minnesota is the state closest to duplicating the Hawaii model. The rest of the nation should get behind Minnesota and the Aloha State and mandate universal coverage paid for by general revenues, hospital surcharges or a combination of the two. Where health care is concerned, the only moral policy is one that guarantees access to a basic level of services to all rich and poor alike. Arthur Caplan is director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and is a columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Sensible health-care Business Salomon shenanigans give Wall Street another black eye BY ARTHUR CAPLAN Knight News Service Last year, Minnesota got awfully close to doing the right thing for those who lack health insurance. The Minnesota Senate and House passed legislation that would have created universal access. Only a last-minute veto by Gov. nvj Carlson killed the bill. 1'he main proponents of the legislation promised to try to override the veto in the upcoming legislative session. Last week, the odds of doing that greatly improved. A new proposal has been put on the table by one of the most powerful health-provider groups in the state, the Council of HMOs. It proposes that universal coverage be paid for by a 6 surcharge on hospital services. The governor had rationalized his veto by saying that the earlier legislation lacked a clear plan for funding Now, a plan is on the table. The cost of creating universal insurance will fall to those who pay the insurance premiums that cover hospital services primarily large and medium-size businesses. It is about this time in arguments over who should pay that someone whispers "Oregon." Oregon, if you recall, has enacted legislation that gives the uninsured some Salomon Brothers Inc.'s decision to deny further Salomon funds to any of its four former executives in the Treasury auction scandal was clearly welcome. The scandal regrettably broke the nation's much-needed respite from the shenanigans on Wall Street in the 1980s. The giant bond-trading firm decided to deny further compensation or legal expenses to the four after the funds cutoff was suggested at a congressional hearing. Affected are John H. Gutfreund, former chairman; Thomas W. Strauss, former president; John W. Meriwether, former vice 17 77

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