Daily Archives: January 25, 2015

Silver owned his own judges, too

Weitz & Luxenbeg model patient

Weitz & Luxenbeg model patient

New York Post: Asbestos litigation run by and for Silver and his law firm,Weitz & Luxenberg

Sheldon Silver has perverted the courts as well as the Capitol.

His law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, gets its asbestos cases — and paydays — moved more quickly than those of other attorneys, and reaps a fortune from favorable rulings by friendly judges, charge lawyers and tort-reform advocates.

Silver’s East Village firm handles more than half the cases in a special section of Manhattan Supreme Court called NYCAL (New York City Asbestos Litigation). So dominant is the firm, the court’s Web site refers to cases as “Weitz” or “non-Weitz.”

The chief asbestos judge, Sherry Klein Heitler — also Manhattan’s chief civil judge — has handled dozens of Weitz & Luxenberg cases.

“They’ve taken over a section of the courthouse, and the people in charge of the courthouse run it for them,” said a disgusted lawyer who files personal-injury cases in Manhattan. “It pours money into the firm.”

… Last year, at Weitz & Luxenberg’s request, Heitler reversed a 20-year rule barring punitive damages in asbestos cases, paving the way for much bigger jury awards and putting pressure on defendants to settle.

… Last year, Weitz & Luxenberg won a record $190 million in a consolidated trial for five mesothelioma victims who worked in different jobs for different employers.

Of 15 mesothelioma verdicts in the last four years, Silver’s firm won $273.5 million of $313.5 million awarded by NYCAL juries. Law firms usually take a third.

The average award for a NYCAL asbestos case — nearly $16 million per plaintiff between 2010 and 2014 — is two to three times larger than those in other courts nationwide, Bates White reported last month at an asbestos law conference in New York. ….

Last month, the American Tort Reform Association branded NYCAL the nation’s top “judicial hellhole,” saying it’s rife with plaintiff attorneys “brazenly favored by the judges.”

The group largely blames Silver, who not only has killed any tort reform, such as efforts to limit claims and cap damages, in Albany, but wields enormous power over the judiciary.

… Weitz & Luxenberg filed 53 percent of the NYCAL mesothelioma cases and 74 percent of the lung-cancer cases from 2011 to 2013, Bates White found.

…. The indictment says Silver pocketed $5.3 million from Weitz & Luxenberg without ever doing legal work — as he was paid a yearly salary of $120,000 (for a total $1.4 million since 2002) and $3.9 million in “referral fees.”

Silver allegedly drummed up plaintiffs — and referral fees — by having Columbia University Medical Center cancer researcher Dr. Robert Taub funnel mesothelioma patients to the firm.

In return, Silver allegedly steered $500,000 in taxpayer-funded grants to Taub and $25,000 in state funds to a nonprofit where Taub’s wife sat on the board of directors, and helped find a job for Taub’s son at a different nonprofit.

Dr. Taub has been fired.


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Don’t tell Krugman or Dollar Bill, but eventually, governments can’t print enough money to pay for their largess

Dinner time, again

Dinner time, again

Glenn Reynolds. Middle Class Savings: Like Blood in the Water.

Though millions of Americans have been putting money into “tax free” 529 plans to save for their children’s increasingly expensive college educations, President Obama would change the law so that withdrawals from the plans to fund college would be taxed as ordinary income. So while you used to be able to get a nice tax benefit by saving for college, now you’ll be shelling out to Uncle Sam every time you withdraw to pay for Junior’s dorm fees.

This doesn’t hurt the very rich — who just pay for college out of pocket — or the poor, who get financial aid, but it’s pretty rough on the middle– and upper–middle class. In a double-whammy, those withdrawals will show up as income on parents’ income tax forms, which are used to calculate financial aid, making them look richer, and hence reducing grants.

Likewise, Obama proposes to tax the appreciation on inherited homes. When you sell property at a profit, you pay capital gains on the difference between the basis (what you paid) and what you sell it for. (Obama also proposes to increase the capital gains rate). That’s not a big issue for most middle class people, because right now if your parents leave you their house, you get what’s called a “step-up” in basis.

That means that the basis isn’t what your parents paid for the house decades ago, but rather what it was worth when you inherited it. Thus, the appreciation your property experienced while your parents owned it comes to you tax-free. For many families, that appreciation is their biggest inheritance. Now, subject to some exemptions Obama plans to tax those gains, and other gains via inheritance.

Why would the White House even consider such a thing? As [Megan] McArdle observes: “The very fact that we are discussing taxation of educational savings — redistributing educational subsidies downward — indicates that the administration has started scraping the bottom of the barrel when seeking out money to fund new programs. Why target a tax benefit that goes to a lot of your supporters (and donors), that tickles one of the sweetest spots in American politics (subsidizing higher education), and that will hit a lot of people who make less than the $250,000 a year that has become the administration’s de facto definition of ‘rich’? Presumably, because you’re running out of other places to get the money.”

When a government is desperate for cash, it goes after the middle class, because that’s where the money is. …

The truth is, in our redistributionist system politicians make their careers mostly by taking money from one group of citizens that won’t vote for them and giving it to another that will. If they run short of money from traditional sources, they’ll look for new revenue wherever they can find it. And if that’s the homes and savings of the middle class, then that’s what they’ll target.



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Another reason for home schooling

Of sterner stock: Riverside children make their way to school

Of sterner stuff: Riverside children make their way to school

If the upcoming storm meets expectations and hopes, school’s going to end up canceled for the week.  If that happens, one of the vacations scheduled for this school year, winter or spring, is gonna get axed, and how will the parents of public school children get to the Turks & Caicos then?


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Currency traders of the future

See how the Euro's got a prettier symbol than the franc? Let's go with that

See how the Euro’s got a prettier symbol than the franc? Let’s go with that.

Store employees steal day’s revenues, put it all on red: it comes up black.

A pair of shop workers stole a whole day’s taking and lost it all in a casino when they put more than £3,000 on red.

Kieron Trott and Christopher Cameron said they just wanted to see what it would feel like to gamble so much money at once – but were forced to quit their jobs at Poundstretcher after the bet went sour.

The crime was so foolish that even the men’s lawyers appeared to mock them in court – one said it was a ‘miracle’ that his client had managed to get another job.



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Maggie Gordon’s back

I learned my job at BU Law

I learned my job at BU Law

With a very good article on the decline of the law profession. I’ve said it here before: unless you or your child is accepted by one of the top-tier schools, don’t waste your money or your time pursuing a law degree.


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He holds that title only because Walt lives in Greenwich

Meet NYC’s most desperate single man.

Imagine opening your inbox to find a video of a hairy British man — wearing nothing more than a hat and a Union Jack to cover the family jewels — asking you on a date. For some other guy.

Through a website that contracts out digital services, [Yossi  Rosenberg] hired both the aforementioned burly Brit and women in rural India to create videos extolling his virtues and asking girls out.

“It was a roundabout way of doing something I maybe could have done myself, normally, but I think it showed something about me,” says Rosenberg, who spent $300 on various videos, each one customized for the receiver.

A few years back, …  Rosenberg hired a company in the Philippines to find matches for him on JDate.

“I outsource work stuff,” says the biz developer. “I figured this would work out just as well.” It didn’t.

Rosenberg’s contact in the Philippines, Sean, says the job proved difficult.

“New York women know what they’re looking for,” Sean says. “I hate to say this, but it’s not Yossi.”



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“All-out blizzard” now predicted to hit

Greenwich Realtors on the Tuesday open house circuit. Semper Paratus

Greenwich Realtors on the Tuesday open house circuit. Semper Paratus

A foot or more, arriving Monday night and continuing Tuesday. It’s my understanding that some people around here don’t like snow, although I can’t understand why they choose to live in New England with that attitude, but for the rest if us, oh joy!


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