Michael Jackson’s Insurance Policy – real life law school question

August 21, 2009


So  Michael Jackson’s tour company (or promoters or someone) took out an insurance policy for the BIG tour that isn’t. Tours cost lots of money up front and now ticket holders want refunds, the company has probably spent money on payroll for promoters, dancers, and has contracts with venues, etc. So it makes sense to have an insurance policy should the concert tour not come to pass.

I have no idea if this is true, but reports are that the policy does not cover concert cancellation due to “illegal” drug use or “illicit” drug use. So, here is the real-life law school question:  If a licensed medical doctor prescribes and administers you a drug illegally without telling you it is an illegal use of the drug, have you illegally taken drugs? 

The doctor should know that Propofol (or whatever) is not supposed to be administered in a home and without an oxygen saturation level monitor and all the other life saving stuff in case you go into a coma and die, but is it Michael Jackson’s responsibility to know that? Or rather, is it yours? You might imagine that MJ knew he had a drug problem (although denial is a big part of addiction), but if your doctor gave you a drug and administered it to you illegally but he did so in his professional capacity, were you taking illegal drugs?

For the record: I have no idea who knew what or if he really died of Propofol or if this or that doctor gave it to him legally or otherwise — I am interested in the question of the mitigation of your criminal liability when a drug is administered illegally by a licensed professional. And, does Lloyd’s of London have to pay? Great law school exam question. Opinions? What would constitute enough knowledge on MJ’s part to constitute mens rea?


Law School Hijinks

August 21, 2009

a scene from LB’s alma mater:


August 19, 2009

I once saw this quote printed on a coffee mug: “Proofreading is the first virtue of a lawyer.” I have no idea who said it, and Google comes up dry, but it’s true. It’s also true that I am an indifferent proofreader, and so I have some sympathy for the woman depicted below. What’s interesting about her sign is that she put a fair amount of effort into designing and lettering it; how in the world did she leave out the “l” that turns our private area public?Sign

This is a funny sign. But the most notable thing about the picture is not the typo; it’s the birther sign in the background. It underscores that the loony right aren’t opposed to health care reform as much as they are opposed to (OK, hate and fear) the health care reformer.

The Uses Of A Yiddish Education

August 19, 2009

Barney Frank “reverts to his ethnic heritage” to answer a question with a question. (Q: Why do Jews always answer a question with a question? A: Why shouldn’t we answer a question with a question?)

This is how you deal with the loony right — ridicule. I have previously opined that Tina Fey won the election for Barack Obama by opening the floodgates of ridicule that washed away Sarah Palin. It’s a powerful weapon, and the Dems need to use it here, too.

Health Insuarnce as a Protection Racket

August 17, 2009

I am a partner in a law firm. I have a wife and two kids. I pay 100% of my health insurance premiums. I have a high deductible family plan, which I couple with a tax-deductible health savings account. My family has never reached the deductible in any year — this is good, because it means that we haven’t been very sick. It also means that my family has been paying for its own health care out of the HSA, with pre-tax dollars.

So why do we have health insurance? The obvious answer is that if (when) one of us gets really sick, we will blow through the deductible, and the insurer will (I hope) pay claims. The second thing is that even under my high deductible plan, the insurer still pays for some preventive stuff before the deductible kicks in. This makes sense for the insurer, I guess, since it lessens the likelihood of larger covered claims later.

But the other reason is because even though we are paying for most of our health care out of pocket, we are paying at the lower “negotiated” prices that health care providers charge insurance companies. Only the uninsured minority are charged the “official” prices set by health care providers — Medicare, Medicaid, and privately insured patients typically pay a fraction. Here’s a 2003 WSJ article about the plight of an uninsured young woman — for my purposes, look at the chart at the end, which shows what insured v. uninsured pay for a routine procedure. I bet the differences in price have only increased.

The fact that uninsured patients get (to use a legal term) hosed is not new news. But it strikes me that my high deductible plan has some of the features of a protection racket. I pay premiums every month not with the expectation of ever collecting benefits (although, again, I hope I will if one of us ever gets really sick — that’s where the analogy breaks down), but to avoid the certain very bad outcome of being charged fantastically high prices for routine care — prices much, much higher than providers charge the insured. And “pay or something bad will happen” is the essence of a protection racket.

The serious note — we have a health care system in which the most vulnerable, the uninsured, are charged multiples of what actors with bargaining power — the government and insurance companies — are charged for the same services. So that’s a problem, and it’s one where government intervention is appropriate — the unregulated market is producing socially undesirable outcomes.

Disrupting Town Hall Meetings

August 11, 2009

So there is a big broo-ha-ha over the libertarians and conservatives disrupting these town hall meetings about health care. Soo. . . I have to say, I don’t care who started it. Organized political protest is our first amendment right. AND, there are rules for public meetings like school board, town hall, and city council meetings. If people are speaking out of turn, they can be removed to preserve the order of the meeting. So duh. Remove them.

Holy Mess

August 7, 2009

Remember President G. W. Bush? Barack Obama was wrong — there are two Americas, and I don’t want to live in the one in which the President starts wars based on his understanding of Biblical prophesies.