Surprises, Surprises, Surprises?

The Madison County Record Oct. 5, 2004, 5:55pm

Stack’s surprise

Judge Daniel J. Stack’s decision last week to toss three asbestos cases out of Madison County’s court has tort reform groups in a tizzy.

At least three separate people who get paid to care about unfriendly plaintiff’s venues like Madison County told us they were ‘cautiously optimistic’ after Stack’s decision.

From those doomsday types, that’s pretty wild enthusiasm.

If he keeps this up, Madison County’s new asbestos judge will achieve cult status in the tort reformer community.

We can see it now—Judge Stack t-shirts, coffee mugs, speaking engagements, maybe a TV show…

1,497 cases to go.

No surprise

Once it made the national news, we knew it was only a matter of days (or hours) until one of Madison County’s finest filed a lawsuit here against Merck over Vioxx, its arthritis pain medication.

Sure enough, three Merck lawsuits hit the clerk’s office last week.

They accuse the drug maker of not disclosing the side effects of Vioxx, which in exchange for solving one’s pain problems reportedly also increases their risk of stroke.

Merck just recently discovered those side effects itself, in an internal study of the drug funded by the company. If it had never done the study, FDA-approved Vioxx would still be on the market and, presumably, Merck would not be hiring defense attorneys by the dozen.

This begs the question— why on earth would a pharmaceutical company ever cautiously study itself again?

For that matter, if the expectation for our wonder drugs is that they now must be risk-free, how are pharmaceutical companies going to attract the investment to develop new products in the first place?

Aging baby-boomers, we suppose, will figure that one out for themselves.

Keeping one’s robe clean to spite their campaign

Used to being called "your honor" by sometimes groveling men wearing suits, its easy to understand how one might develop a patronizing view of activities frequented by the commonly elected masses.

Case in point: 5th District Supreme Court candidate Gordon Maag's quip last week to the Southern Illinoisan newspaper that the medical malpractice lawsuit crisis "ought not be a political issue."

“Political” is a yucky word to judges because it implies back-and-forth debate. That kind of behavior is for lower-caste lawmakers.

Judges can dish it—but they aren’t too fond of discussion that talks back.

"There is only a solution for the problem," Maag went on to tell reporter Nicole Sack. “There are no sides to this.”

We understand why a judge hoping to one day be perceived as ‘impartial’ wouldn’t want to take a position of substance. But the last time we checked, the line of scrimmage in this med-mal reform battle was pretty well-defined.

The short story is trial lawyers here, doctors and hospitals there. Sounds like two sides to us.

Meanwhile, ‘political’ types like Sen. Frank Watson (R-Greenville) and Governor Rod Blagojevich maneuver in Springfield to craft that med-mal ‘solution to the problem.’

So gross.

Poll: Karmeier surges with Bush

Have Karmeier and President George W. Bush captured the Southern Illinois 'big mo'?

A late September poll taken of likely voters in the 5th State Supreme Court District-- including thirty-seven Southern Illinois counties-- indicates that Karmeier and Bush are gaining steam.

According to the survey, taken by a pro-business group backing Karmeier in the race, Karmeier leads Maag 40% to 37% with 21% still undecided.

Bush leads Democrat John Kerry 48% to 41% in the same poll.

A late June survey by the same group had Karmeier and Maag deadlocked at 35%-35% with 27% undecided. Kerry led Bush in the June poll, 45% to 42%

And way back in Februrary, the same pollster had Maag leading Karmeier 35% to 29% with 34% undecided. Kerry also led Bush in that poll, 47% to 41%.

Maybe Maag should re-think his plain vanilla approach to the issues after all?

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