The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO EXPOSE THE FAKE APOLOGY
We’ve been covering the apology shield this week and I’m having fun with it, but deep down there’s a serious side to this entire discussion. What is really at stake is the simple dignity of the American way of life. Our dignity should not be for sale and that’s what the apology shield did, it sold manufactured truth to the highest bidder, in this case the insurance industry and medical profession. If we allow anyone to lie to juries, our system of law and order is imperiled. Allowing someone to say to a jury that they did nothing wrong, when in fact they have earlier admitted they did something wrong is government approved lying. Its society saying to the youth of America, that in some instances our government approves of us lying; especially when money is involved. Boiled down to it’s essence we are approving lying when it’s to our economic advantage. Maybe the youth of America could benefit from an official lie register, where all State sanctioned lies could be catalogued.
I did a terrible job or raising my children so I’m no one to talk, but raising children is already too difficult. If we now allow the government to sanction lying to juries chaos can’t be far behind. In this instance the law is as wrong as wrong can be. Those behind this law should be ashamed of what this law promotes. Those legislators who voted for the apology shield should be thrown out of office. As a man who cares about the truth and about the America culture, the lack of shame shown by those advocating for the apology shield shocks me. I’ve said it before and I believe it’s worth repeating. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. And not everything that is wrong can be corrected by passing a law that says it’s now right and proper behavior.
Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. And not everything that is wrong can be corrected by passing a law that says it’s now right and proper behavior.
You can not legislate truth. You can’t create a law that says what is wrong is now right and believe anyone will believe it is right. To do so is just wrong. Condoning lying to save money is foolishness to the nth degree. This goes right back to the Participation Trophy Syndrome. You can’t make winners out of our losers simply by handing out a fake trophy. Winners don’t want a participation trophy, only losers will accept one. Winners want to win one. They want to have earned the right to say they are winners. Losers want to be told they are winners when they acted like losers. Handing out participation trophies encourages internal dishonesty; and in this instance the apology shield is doing just that; it’s encouraging dishonest behavior.
Condoning lying to save money is foolishness to the nth degree.
If that’s what society wants then I want no part of it. I abhor participation trophies because they encourage the wrong ideas and do nothing to build good honest character. Young people and old people alike need to fail to learn how to win. Opportunities to do the right thing will never be recognized and fully appreciated if everyone gets to always feel good no matter how poorly they performed. Pop psychology that wants everyone to feel good about themselves is insidiously self-destructive. The apology-shield is nothing more than a glorified participation trophy. Doctors who want the right to a fake apology are being handed a participation trophy and are acting, no they are losers.
If America is now handing out participation trophies to blundering professionals then doing it right no longer matters. Why should professionals care if they make a mistake? Shame on the State legislatures; shame on the state medical communities that sat back and didn’t resist the temptation for the right to lie to the jury; and shame on all of us for saying nothing in opposition. And you wonder why this next generation seems uninterested in working hard? Why should they be, isn’t it enough that they showed up. “I showed up, where is my trophy?” Winners win and losers lose, that’s a fact of life. For the sake of developing good character we need to teach, which probably requires us to relearn, how to lose with grace and our reputations intact.
If America is now handing out participation trophies to blundering professionals then doing it right no longer matters.
TODAY'S "APOLOGY" - THE ONE THAT NEVER HAPPENED
Today’s apology is one that to my knowledge never occurred. It’s the apology the University of Florida owes to this protester Andrew Meyers. They punished him using a Taser just for speaking his mind. I don't care if there was a single person in the room who agreed with him, in this country we support free speech. Kerry owes him an apology for sitting by without speaking up. Listen as members of the audience laugh as the young man is being shocked. Were they happy he was being punished for just speaking his mind? At that time and still today, it was obvious to me Kerry didn’t have what it takes to be President. If he did Kerry would have stood up, taken the mic and told the officers to step down and to allow the young man to ask his questions. Kerry should have then answered them, assuming they were legitimate questions. If not, Kerry could have declined. Instead Kerry stands by watching this display of what can only be described as a group of campus police acting like common thugs. When a Presidential candidate hasn’t even the backbone to stand up and debate the protester, instead allowing him to be Tased, to shut him up, it’s clear he hasn’t read or understood the United States Constitution. He’s clueless about what makes this country what it is.
And that’s today’s apology; it’s the one that never occurred.
University of Florida Response – The Over-Intellectualized Veiled Apology – Maybe we are sorry and then maybe we aren’t. At the end I’ll include the raw footage from the campus police escorting him out the building and discussing his “inciting a riot”. That’s a waste can charge intentionally mean to be vague and useful in any number of situations where the police need an excuse to make what they did sound legitimate. This is the same mentality to thinks reengineering the facts will make people believe a different version of the true facts. In Wyoming the charge de’ jure is “interference”. [See the comment from Glenrock in The Bush Legacy Paraded in Wyoming: An Intolerant Police State, a new low for America.] And that’s the problem with officially saying it’s alright to apologize for doing something wrong, but then going to court and testifying under oath you did nothing wrong. Gee, for some strange reason this lacks truth, is not genuine and smacks of an untruthful character. A butterfly flying by that distracts an officer on duty is interference.
To read this series on the apology shield follow these links:
Why Should I Apologize?, September 22, 2009
"I'm very sorry.", but really I'm not., September 23, 2009
An Apology Free From Risk, Isn't Really An Apology, September 24, 2009
How To Expose The Fake Medical Apology, September 25, 2009
Fixing Medical Malpractice by Fixing the Truth, Todays
To read more about American society and the Participation Trophy Syndrome, read Coach Lombardi’s posts on the subject:
... Only losers want a participation trophy, winners want to win one. ... And remember, only losers want a participation trophy, winners want to win one. ...
... No Participation Trophy for Either the Hawkeyes or the Cyclones. ...
The Participation Trophy Syndrome Wall Street ... FINANCIAL MISCONDUCT: Is the answer to frivolous Wall Street bonuses, The Participation Trophy Syndrome. ...
... Rubin Navarrette has it right - Don't rescue those looking for a participation trophy. Let litigation teach them a lesson. ... Losers want a participation trophy. ...
... Arkansas Board of Medicine "Sanctions" Surgeon with a "Participation Trophy". ... A participation trophy in youth sports is a parent's diseased thinking. ...
... She epitomizes the Participation Trophy Syndrome. Where is my trophy; after all I showed up. ... She wants a participation trophy for showing up. …
... We no longer expect our children to earn a trophy, instead feeling guilty we employ the participation trophy. ... Fact, only losers want a participation trophy. ...
... Only losers want a participation trophy. ... She didn't phone the coach demanding he give me a participation trophy to make sure I felt good about myself. ...
... This debacle demonstrates why Participation Trophies are so wrong. I wonder if the Russians were ever nervous with Governor Palin being so close to Russia. ...
... Participation Trophy Syndrome –. Parents all across ... banquet. Only losers want a participation trophy; winners want to win one. It’s ...
Yesterday we discussed three recent incidents where an apology was necessary to correct an error of judgment. Those incidents involved Kanye West, Serena Williams and Congressman Joe Wilson. Let’s now look at the apology following a medical mistake that injures or kills the patient. I’m going to start off by making a rhetorical statement.
Who in the medical community cares about its good character?
In the practice of medicine, doctors lament that if after making a mistake they apologize the patient can later use those words of apology against the doctor in a lawsuit. Yeah they probably can just like any person can, like when the other driver apologizes at the scene of an accident. Or the same as when the lawyers make mistakes, look their clients in the eye, apologize and then pay for the mistake. If you care at all about your reputation you should apologize. That’s what a good conscience dictates.
PRE-APOLOGY SHIELD LEGAL ADVICE FROM THE DEFENSE
Before there was an apology shield there was honesty. After medical mistakes were made, the defense lawyers would advise the doctors never to apologize; that way there is nothing to use against them later on should a lawsuit be filed. Some doctors obeyed the lawyers and played defensive medicine and those doctors didn't apologize. Others with a troubled conscience still apologized, and low and behold something incredible was discovered. When doctor’s genuinely apologized many patients forgave the mistake and didn’t file a lawsuit.
Patient's and lawyers, yes even lawyers believe doctors are human and capable of making an honest mistake. This blog post isn't really about the good doctors; it's about the dishonest ones, the ones who wanted this apology shield.
After it was discovered that a genuine apology paid off Big Insurance and Big Legal decided to get greedy and began to shout, "Show me the money!". Big Insurance and Big Legal Defense stepped in, wined and dined state legislators who then across the country passed laws saying if the doctors apologize the patients can’t admit the words into evidence in a later trial. That way all doctors, even the insincere ones, the ones who don’t think they did anything wrong could join the ones that are sincere with a fake-out apology. Thus, with the passage of a law, the apology shield, apology exclusion and fake-out apology were born. And they think this is good. It couldn't be farther from the truth. What they were hoping to do was to create real value in this opportunity with 100% fake apologies resulting in fewer lawsuits. They will in the end get exactly the opposite. But the damage that is being done goes well beyond one small law suit about patient care.
The thing about God is that God didn’t just give the doctors and defense lawyers a brain; patients too have brains and believe it or not they use them. And that’s where the apology shield fails. People aren’t stupid. God created the conscience for a reason and it extracts a genuine cost; with God nothing is for free. God introduced that thing called humility into the whole concept of apologizing. Do you really think just saying the words is enough to generate forgiveness? It isn’t and we’ll all soon be reminded why that is.
ARE POLITICIANS REALLY THIS VALUELESS AND STUPID?
With the enactment of the apology shield state legislatures have thrown honesty and sincerity out the window right along with good character. Have they forgotten how good character is built? Apparently so, because “I’m Sorry Legislation” has been enacted or is pending in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois (pending), Louisiana, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas (Texas! I would have never guessed!), Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Apology shields don’t just invite insincerity, they create it. Patients can no longer trust any doctor to be honest and sincere. They will now assume all apologies are of the insincere type. That’s what is behind, in front of and all over the fake apology law. The idea that apologies don’t have to be sincere is making even the sincerely apologetic doctors suspect. The patients know what is gonig on; the lawyers tell the doctor to apologize and we all know it. The doctor isn’t apologizing because he/she cares, it’s because it’s in his/her financial interest. The patient whose healthy kidney was removed doesn’t want nor does that patient need insincerity. The parent whose child was killed because of administration of the wrong dosed drug gets no relief from a feigned “I’m so sorry”. Behind the shallow words we hear you laughing all the way to the bank and an early retirement. Your biggest mistake was throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
The apology shield like many tort law reforms is more of the new math: our professional mistake that screws up your life minus responsibility equals your problem.
WILL THE FAKE APOLOGY PAY OFF
Absolutely not, in fact the fake apology, the apology shield and all the insincerity it creates will have the opposite effect. Patients will no longer believe any apology, not even the sincere ones. They will hear those shallow words for what they really are, will be offended, become insulted and everyone of them will seek out a lawyer to sue. And who can blame them? Is this the example we hope to set for our children and our children's children?
As my mother is fond of asking, “What are you stupid?”
Follow the Apology Series here or at the Des Moines InjuryBoard:
Steve Lombardi | September 22, 2009 9:42 AM