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March 05, 2007

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clarice

*** rapidly lookING***

__

10:55

Okay, we got new language back. Debra did a quck review. Jeffress up. Wells reviewing it.

I think we've sent it to the jury now, the media just got up and left.

bRight & Early

**there**

Larry

The profit is always built in. Posted by: Jane | March 05, 2007 at 08:09 AM Are you suggesting insurance companies should make no profit?

boris

Humanly possible covers a lot of territory on both sides of reasonable doubt.

Determining intent is a necessary consideration. Finding fact about forgetting or not forgetting is more nebulous than should be decided by jury.

Pofarmer

I wasn't aware the charges could change after the jury had the "evidence".

When's the hanging in the public square?

clarice

Well, Wells seems to have won that one. That it should even have been considered is very frightening.

Jane

Are you suggesting insurance companies should make no profit?

Sheesh is that what you think I have been saying Larry? If so I should hang it up now.

boris

Made me laugh Jane. Won't say why but you probably can guess.

PaulL

Clarice,

Why do you say Wells seems to have won that one? Didn't Walton say he was going to make the change that Fitzgerald wanted?

Larry

Jane, are you telling me your 8:09 post is an actual accounting? I hope not, because my BS meter is in alarm. Legitimate auto insurance claims are generally paid on full proof of loss, so I can't see your anecdote of 800 paid, etc. Or have we moved on to other types of insurance?

Carol Herman

FROM CAROL HERMAN

The crap you got in DC has been well earned. In other words, the people who vote, keep getting what they want. While most Americans thinks their neighborhoods stink. Libby deserves better.

As to the jurors "hearing" from the media, why would anyone be surprised, here? Unless you put people under strict guard you can't "halp" what happens "at home." Or even standing in line to buy groceries. (While Starbucks definitely must go into the "forbidden" category.)

As to the jury being of one mind. I don't think so. Opinions, it turns out, harden over time. Especially in terms of group dynamics, and individuals who aren't too concerned Walton can make them all "sit there till Hell Freezes Over."

The jurors have outworn any welcome they would have gotten, already. The limosines to carry them to fame will be a clown car.

clarice

I was referring to the obstruction count...where the judge caught on that he could not amend what the gj charged.

SunnyDay

Jane!! You extremist, you.

Going by my dividends, some of them aren't making much.

BTW, I'm never wrong because I never say anything important, except where a document is located. :D

better to be silent and be thought a fool...

PMII

It must be Monday................

Other Tom

Meanwhile, in other news...

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the exposure of Al Gore's electricity consumption is going to mark a turning point in the whole global warming farce. Although unrelated to Gore's embarrassment, there appears to be a growing number of extremely reputable scientists distancing themselves from the man-made argument--and these are scientists in the disciplines that matter. Gore's evident hypocrisy will just serve as a nice shorthand, which of course is what is always needed these days.

Joe Gloor

If Gore runs for president again, this time he can claim he invented Global Warming.

Sue

How cool would that be? Take out Al Gore and John McCain in one fell swoop.

Retiree

A number of threads ago, Clarice said something to the effect that Walton as an average or above average judge. As a citizen with no experience in the courts, I find it very troubling for our system of justice if what she says is true.

Great Banana

The whole argument about insurance premiums falters when you consider the effect such awards have on the non-insured, under-insured, or self-insured.

Even assuming that jury awards have absolutely no affect on insurance premiums, jury awards do affect the self insured.

People read about jury awards, which informs their thinking as to what is an appropriate award. Also, settlements are based, in part, on what the attorneys think a jury might award - based upon past jury awards.

Since insurance companies are involved in the vast majority of tried cases, those awards against insureds affect what is considered to be an appropriate award (either by a jury or by an attorney in settlement).

Accordingly, when huge damage awards abound, it will lead to even more huge awards, as juries begin to think such numbers are "appropriate" for "pain and suffering" etc.

For a self-insured business, or a business who has a relatively low maximum, the large award obviously has an effect beyond the inurance company's profit.

None of this stuff happens in a vacuum.

Moreover, I never tried to claim that insurance company's don't make a profit. That is the business they are in. Obviously, when large awards start to eat into their profit, they raise premiums. So, just because they could pay the awards out of their reserves and still have a profit, does not mean that awards don't effect premiums. Basically you seem to be arguing that insurance company's should simply keep premiums the same and not try to maximize profits. We can argue over what is a reasonable profit, and at what point they should consider raising premiums. But arguing that awards don't effect premiums is not persuasive.

As an example. Say that kraft mac & cheese cost $1.00 a box, and that Kraft realized a 10 cent profit on that. Then, production costs go up and next week Kraft's profit on that box is reducted to 5 cents. Do you think that Kraft will simply say "oh well" we lose 5 cents profit per box. Or, do you think that Kraft will pass the increased cost on to the consumer, raise the price to $1.05 per box, and keep their profit margin?

- GB

Other Tom

I don't recall Clarice saying that. I felt that way after the various pre-trial rulings, but from what I've been able to see about his conduct of the trial I think he is below the average of the federal judges in my experience, which is of course not a huge sample.

Barney Frank

Jane,

--Over the course of the year, the insurer collects $100 million in premiums. Of that amount, 1000 claims are made in the amount of $90 million. Of the 1000 claims 800 are settled for a total of $1.5 M, 200 go to trial, 150 are defendant's verdicts, 30 are awarded amounts less than the final offer and 2 receive awards of $20 million each.--

Granting all of your assumptions, if for the next several years the same number of claims are made with each one averaging a higher amount or more claims are made with the same average amount, totalling in either case say $150 million, is it not inevitable that the premiums will rise, either to cover current operating expenses or to maintain their reserves, which after all are not simply a treasure chest, but a method by which it is assured their insured are covered in the case of extraordinay claims.

eric

At what point would double jeopardy attach in federal law? If Fitz loses on the instructions, and a Libby verdict is reached, Fitz is SOL, right?

Charlie (Colorado)

I'm telling you, if you look at the numbers it will bear me out. Oh and do you remember Learned Hand? It was he who postulated that all claims could be predicted to close to a certainty over a period of time in both frequency and severity? I've made those calcuations and he is right. The profit is always built in.

I suspect the issue here is that everyone is right, but not answering the same questions.

Jane's correct (I think) because claims follow a Pareto distribution. So the rare, high, awards don't dominate the overall costs, it's the very common, relatively small awards that do.

Further, as Learned Hand pointed out, all other factors being equal the number of claims is large enough that you can treat it as a statistical universe, which means that you can set a value x such that to any desired degree of confidence less than 100 percent, you can be sure the costs of claims won't exceed x. (It's that "confidence less than 100 percent" part that means Learned Hand is not mathematically correct: there is no such upper bound with complete certainty. This is called a "gambler's ruin" problem: it is a theorem that a sufficiently large number of losses can exhaust any finite "stake".)

Insurance and actuary science are basically built around ensuring that the insurance company charges enough for the policy, and maintains large enough reserves, including return on investing the reserves, to ensure that they have covered any conceivable run of bad luck. Inconceivable runs of bad luck, like 5 major hurricanes in one season, can still put an insurance company out of business.

On the other hand, the all things being equal point is where, over the long term, Jane's point falls apart and the "it's eventually going to cost everyone" point comes into play. If, over time, the chance of a policy being involved in an award increases, or if over time the average payout of an award increases, then the cost per policy will have to go up as well, or else the chance that a run of bad luck will bankrupt the company will go up. The easiest way to see this is to look at the limiting case: if the environment changes so that every policy, with probability 1, pays out more than its premium plus a pro rata share of the reserves and assets of the company, then the insurance company will go bust directly.

An interesting example of that is happening as we speak in Mississippi, where political forces are converging to force insurance companies to pay out for flooding damage on wind damage policies.

Other Tom

If the jury acquits, it's all over for good.

clarice

OT, I hope you're right. I've been arguing the same point elsewhere. Now, the thing is that on local and staqte levels too many companies are caving into this nonsense to avoid having to buck the tide of ill-informed pbulic opinion . We can't let up--remind everyone who killed nuclear power and millions w/ the ban on DDT. At some point teh ecopalytos should start bearing the price for pushing discredited policies.

clarice

(I apologize for all the typos, my decorator, the electrician and the shelving folks are here and it's driving me nuts.)

WA Moore

Response to juror questions.

PaulL

Other Tom,

Clarice did opine a while back, to my question as a matter of fact, that she felt Walton was an average or above average judge for the DC area.

I find it humanly impossible that you have forgotten this. Therefore, you are hereby indicted for perjury and obstruction and making a false statement.

Charlie (Colorado)

Don't get too far out on the global warming thing the other way, too. There's no question that "global warming" is happening; the measurements at that gross level are extremely strong. There's little question that higher CO2 is contributing to that change; the physics for that is pretty good. There's fairly good evidence for human-caused increases in total CO2. So you can responsibly conclude that there is *some* human-caused global warming.

On the other hand, even the Mann et al studies only show a small change in the rate of increase, that can only account for about 30 percent of the total increase since 1900 at worst. (That's what Roger Pielke Sr estimates as the upper bound for human-caused warming, by the way.) Those studies are statistically flawed.

The published stuff about apocalyptic warming are based on models which are suspect at best. (Charlie's Law of Computer Modeling: under all circumstances, any model with sufficient degrees of freedom and adequate numerical methods will confirm the hypothesis most likely to result in increased funding.)

PaulL

Charlie (Colorado),

I disagree with your entire first paragraph. Of course the global warming evidence is suspect. It's all a question of where you make your test and what baseline you compare it to.

Jeff Z

The economic illiteracy of Jane and her followers is asonishing, unbelievable, words fail me:

"I'm telling you, if you look at the numbers it will bear me out. Oh and do you remember Learned Hand? It was he who postulated that all claims could be predicted to close to a certainty over a period of time in both frequency and severity? I've made those calcuations and he is right. The profit is always built in."

Yeah -- Of course the profits are built in. In a high-demand, high-supply marketplace where all consumers are required to buy the product, companies have to price in a roughly similar fashion in order to ensure both sufficient gross revenue, and, since virtually all these companies are public, a sufficient net profit as well.

As far as "where the money comes from," it isn't sitting in a box somewhere; it's invested in stocks and bonds--you know, what you're depending on to pay for your retirement.

Evelyn

Reading the judge's instructions to the jury, it seems to me he took the safe way, especially asking the jury to rephrase the second question.

Isn't this a good ruling for the defense? Ask your question without a triple negative and we'll see if we can answer.

Evelyn

BTW, I don't believe in global warming, it is pseudo-science and meant to make ME pay for something that will do nothing to improve my life, only someone else's life like Al Gore.

Barry

"There's little question that higher CO2 is contributing to that change; the physics for that is pretty good."

I dispute this. CO2 plays no part in the temperature of the earth. It plays a very minor part in the "greenhouse effect", less than 10% (consider water vapor), and mans contribution of CO2 is around 5%.

We do not know if the earth is heating up, staying the same, or cooling off. Whatever it is doing, man has little to no impact.

That outa start a fight argument.

WA Moore

Jeff Z: The economic illiteracy of Jane and her followers is asonishing, unbelievable, words fail me:

Agreed. It is so far from reality it boggles the mind. It is total basic economic ignorance.

gogeo

I don't want to engage in the argument about insurance companies, lawsuits, and premiums.

I will just ask if:

---Anyone here believes in Santa Claus...

---Anyone believes money can just come from "nowhere."

clarice

He did not depart from the standard on reasonable cause and said he really couldn't understand their question on it.

As to the obstruction charge--he correctly refused to point them to any transcript references--if the gj had done more than cite this exchange it should have. He did tell them they could consider it in the full context of the trial.

He played it safe, I think.

Evelyn

Thanks Clarice. I've been semi-worried about this all morning. :)

Charlie (Colorado)

I disagree with your entire first paragraph. Of course the global warming evidence is suspect. It's all a question of where you make your test and what baseline you compare it to.

Then you're mistaken. Let me narrow it down a little, though, and say "since about 1600 years BP."

Charlie (Colorado)

Dammit, I meant "1600 BCE."

Charlie (Colorado)

I dispute this. CO2 plays no part in the temperature of the earth. It plays a very minor part in the "greenhouse effect", less than 10% (consider water vapor), and mans contribution of CO2 is around 5%.

We do not know if the earth is heating up, staying the same, or cooling off. Whatever it is doing, man has little to no impact.

Not only are you wrong, the first paragraph disagrees with the second.

clarice

BC AD--what's a few centuries among friends?

JT

I jumped into the Libby trial a little late; however, I was surprised by the prosecution's evidence, or lack thereof. If this is all Fitz found after spending millions, I WANT A REFUND. There is absolutely nothing here but a he said / he said dispute. It would be horribly ironic if this jury is unable to find reasonable doubt in this criminal trial while OJ Simpson lives freely in Miami. If this jury does not find reasonable doubt then I content it is prima facie evidence that BDS actually destroys the logic and reasoning parts of the brain, sufficiently so that those with BDS should be locked up as a danger to themselves and society.

Rick Ballard

Those bashing Jane might want to explicate their understanding in a comment of (at minimum) 2,000 words incorporating their definition of the purpose and function of reserves.

I somehow doubt that Jane perceives the world in accordance with the words that are being put in her mouth.

It was a blog comment - not a treatise on the insurance industry.

Barry

"Not only are you wrong, the first paragraph disagrees with the second."

In what way?

Charlie (Colorado)

BC AD--what's a few centuries among friends?

1200 years.

For a typo.

clarice

Here's what I'm worried about--the magnetic poles are shifting and there's a hole in the earth's crust.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070301103112.htm

And Glenn Reynolds and Hawking think we should consider colonizing space--as if it isn't hard enough to travel back and forth from L.A. to see the kids.

PMII

Hope you not lossing sleep over that.

Barry

Clarice, if there is no crisis, someone will manufacture one.

Chicken Little.

CAL

Yes, the earth has been getting warmer since the last (little) ice age. If it weren't, we would still be in the ice age and I for one am damn glad we aren't. My heating bills are high enough.

The idea that man is responsible for this rather than the sun strikes me as absurd. In order to make this case, please explain how the current warm period is different from every other time between ice ages.

Global mean temperature has gone down the last few years. Computer models are wildly wrong when given past data to predict the present. Why would anyone without an agenda trust them to correctly predict the situation 50 years from now?

Charlie (Colorado)

In what way?

Actually, the first graf even contradicts itself. You can't both have CO2 contribute 10 percent to greenhouse effect *and* have it make no contribution to temperature.

Second, we can't know that CO2 contributes 10 percent to greenhouse effect and have no idea if the Earth is warming, cooling, or staying the same.

Beyond that, we have lovely evidence that the Earth is warming, and has been since the little ice age. What we don't have is evidence that the warming is (a) unusual, (b) to what extent it's anthropogenic, or (c) a good understanding of whether there are other homeostatic effects that will counteract it.

WA Moore

Charlie (Colorado),

You seem to be the expert here, so please help me with two questions. (1) How are current global average temperatures derived? (2) How are historical global average estimates derived?

Maybe another: How accurate and reliable are the individual measurements and the averages?

Other Tom

What does BCE mean?

clarice

Before the Common Era (or BC to Gentiles..LOL)

RichatUF

from the clarice post above...

WALTON:I don't think I'd be inclined to indicate what the govt is requesting, because I'm not sure what they're asking. If the govt has to prove guilt beyond all doubt, then I'd say no, and I have some concerns about responding in the way the govt has suggested. I'd be inclined to say that I don't fully understand what they're saying.

In the way the jury asked the question about 'reasonable doubt', doesn't it indicate that doubt exits? Even the judge does not understand the jury question or the gov't proposed response...

And I'm still mad about the Mitchell matter-torches and pitchforks at NBC's Washington Bureau

RichatUF

Other Tom

What does anthropogenic mean? What does homeostatic mean? (My recollection of "homeostasis" is preety clear, but it has nothing to do with this topic.)

Other Tom

*pretty* clear.

Another Bob

Other Tom | March 05, 2007 at 09:59 AM>

anthropogenic = caused by humans

homeostatic = self-regulating

Another Bob

bRight & Early

Let me see if I have this straight:

Insurance companies and lawyers cause global warming, and the jury still can't find their butts with two hands and a wedgie pointing the way?

Does that about cover it?

clarice

HEH

Rick Ballard

"Does that about cover it?"

No. Attorneys cause insurance companies. Gaia is responsible for global warming. She's irritated with Algore and tired of all the arguing. Plus she has a thing for dinosaurs and wants a do over.

CAL

Lawyers release hot air which causes warming but the insurance companies with their cold, cold hearts bring the temps back down. I would call it a wash.

I think you may be right about the jury.

jwest

I’ve been trying to catch up after a weekend spent away from all things Plame.

After reading Walton’s 48 page excuse as to why he is trying to throw this trial in Fitz’s favor (bearing in mind he didn’t mention global warming or insurance company reserves), I was wondering if there had been the usual in-depth JOM analysis of this document.

One glaring omission I was particularly interested in was why Wells was not allowed to rebut Fitz’s claim that people had died due to Val’s “outing”. Since this wasn’t covered in Walton’s weak attempt to explain his poor decisions, does anyone know if the request was made?

goldwater

The jury doesn't understand the judge, the judge doesn't understand the jury.

Can we go home now?

Barry

"Actually, the first graf even contradicts itself. You can't both have CO2 contribute 10 percent to greenhouse effect *and* have it make no contribution to temperature."

It is clear you missed the point. CO2 is a small contributor of the greenhouse effect, actually less than 10%. Water vapor is the primary gas. Man only adds about 5% of the CO2. 95% is naturally occuring. The point, Charlie, its freaking insignificant.

"Second, we can't know that CO2 contributes 10 percent to greenhouse effect and have no idea if the Earth is warming, cooling, or staying the same."

Such utter nonsense. Even *IF* CO2 is causing global warming, it is entirely possible we do not know if the temp is going up or down. The effect of CO2 could be less than the cooling effect of something else, say arguing over AllGore BS. I reiterate, we cannot measure the current temperature of the earth in any reliable fashion. We can only measure the BS level of those who think they can.

Barry

Now back to lurker status regarding the trial...

Alcibiades

Would someone please clarify "reversible error" again?

Even though, at the moment, at least on the first question, we appear to be beyond it.

clarice

Here's Jeralyn's take on the responses--which I think we've already covered.

http://www.talkleft.com/story/2007/3/5/123114/2139

SunnyDay

Case I :05-cr-003,~4-RBW Document 313 Filed 03/05/2007 Page 1 of I

)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, )
)
)
V. )
)
I, LEWIS LIBBY, Defendant. )
)
)
~
Responses to Jury Notes Response to Question One:

The instruction I gave you on reasonable doubt is the most detailed language I can provide you on what amounts to reasonable doubt. I request that you re-read the reasonable doubt instruction and consider all of it in your evaluation of what amounts to reasonable doubt and what the govermnent’s burden of proof is in proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

As to the second part of your questions which asks “is it necessary for the government to present evidence that it is not humanly possible for someone not to recall an event in order to find guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” I do not fully understand what you mean by “not humanly possible.” If you can rephrase the question considering the language I gave ~‘ou in the reasonable doubt instruction, I will assess whether I can provide further guidance to you.

Response to Question Two:

As to Count One, Statement Three, the charge is set forth in the instructions. In assessing whether the Government has proven the elements of Count One, Statement Three, beyond a reasonable doubt, you may consider all of the evidence in the case, including any and all portions of Mr. Libby’s grand jury testimony.

clarice

Alci-

Error substantially affecting appellant's legal rights and obligations which, if uncorrected, would result in a miscarriage of justice and which justifies reversing a judgment in the court below even if the error was not objected to in the lower court; synonymous with prejudicial error. See 314 P. 2d 973, 976. Compare harmless error; plain error.See also error.

james

Reading stories like this makes you wonder how "scientists" can ever be trusted on anything. I'd rank them down there with politicians and reporters on the honesty scale.

bio mom

Just what "scientists" are you talking about? Seems to me the article was about the pollsters and maybe some of the Iraqi doctors. Those are not "scientists".

Alcibiades

Thanks Clarice.


Matovitz

Plame Movie

Mathieu Kassovitz?

So, bad names don't do well do they?

clarice

You're welcome, Alci.

james

What is a scientist in your eyes, bio mom?

Another Bob

bio mom | March 05, 2007 at 10:28 AM

That study was published in the Lancet which ordinarily would be considered a scientific journal.

Anyone with a facility for arithmetic and some common sense knew the likelihood of accuracy there was minimal. That one of the authors became a political candidate shortly thereafter is likely another sign.

Not one of the better moments for Lancet, IMO.

RichatUF

jwest, the open thread on Sunday had some discussion and links; I didn't look on the left-wing blogs for commentary...

No Mitchell No Peace!!!!

I am a bit ticked off about the opinion...in one of the footnotes the court says that the government and NBC proposed "nearly identical" remedies-unbelievable that a media institution and a prosecutor would collude on this issue. So much for that defender of journalism Tim Russert

RichatUF

bio mom

People who have earned their doctorate degrees in stringent programs that require novel, reproducible research and a defended thesis. People who only draw conclusions from carefully controlled experimental protocols and subject themselves to rigorous peer review. People who are trained in analysis of data and its limitations. People who have open minds to new evidence that contradicts their theses and tests their theses, incorporating the new evidence.

theo

If I were on that jury, I would find Walton's remarks totally unhelpful. (Of course, if I were on that jury, I would not have asked those questions either, but that is not the point.)

I just do not see how what Walton has done pushes the process. If they were stuck -- and it appears they were or close to there -- when they asked the questions they are going to be still stuck now.

I cautiously think that the odds of a hung jury are now higher than when the day started.

Karen_Bee

Is this thread suppose to be about the Libby Trial??

clarice

Maybe one of them will jump from the courthouse parapets at the thought of more time on this stupid mind bending exercise and we'll get a mistrial.

theo

Maybe Walton figured that his "I do not understand your question" bit worked so well the last time -- they ended up figuring it out for themselves -- that he thought he would try it again.

But this will now make in essence the third time he has claimed not to understand what they were asking. I assume they must feel a little frustrated by that.

theo

Clarice --

I have been in that building and did not notice any "parapets." But I was not looking for them either.

bRight & Early

Is this thread suppose to be about the Libby Trial??

Posted by: Karen_Bee | March 05, 2007 at 10:41 AM

No. This thread is about marking time while the jury helps me (and obviously many others) avoid productive work.

maryrose

Any chance of a verdict today? What are the jurors wearing?

Actuary Jerry

I'm a lurker on the legal issues, but my career until recently retiring to become a professional gambler, I'm dead serious about that, was pricing casualty insurance. If someone starts a thread I'll tell you how it really works from the inside.

Jane is mostly wrong but has a few good points, and comes close to some things about insurance that are a bit counterinutuitive.

Let's do a simple thought experiment. If there were no claims how much would insurance cost? The answer is of course zero.

Stupid example, right? But it reveals the obvious and very intuitive conclusion that the amount of money insurance companies pay drives the amount they charge for their services. How could it be otherwise? The collective "we" pay for every insurance claim.

Large verdicts make premiums go up, rising premiums are built into the cost of products and services. Use those products and services you pay more. It is that simple. Smoke and mirrors about reserves and expected losses, investment income, mortality and morbidity make no impact on those fundamental facts.

Sure, over the LONG term insurance companies aren't concerned by the amounts that the industry pays (even as they want their relative share to be lower) and even prefer that these total costs increase as their compensation for their part in the risk transfer mechanism they receive a percentage of the total premium collected. Hey, it's good for actuaries too because as the numbers get bigger and scarier they have to pay more for our expertise, or at least our pretense.

Pricing is done by extrapolating past costs trended into the future and usually it works like clockwork. Not unlike Jane's example.

But with all respect to the great Justice Hand, I must dissent. It doesn't always work that way, and the biggest risk to an insurance company is an unanticipated increase in claims costs. In a long tailed line like Med Mal, it has put companies under. The driver of this particular short term danger is large judgments.

That's just the cold hard truth.

Not Guilty

Oh ya, whoever got mad at the wikipedia thing, names are BAD!


Sheriff: Kids home when mom was killed
AP - 39 minutes ago
PETOSKEY, Mich. - A man authorities tracked down in the snow of a wilderness area confessed to killing and dismembering his wife, and described the "horrific" details surrounding her death, a sheriff said Monday.

JT

I have a very simple solution to the "global warming" problem. For all human beings who being that human beings cause global warming proceed directly to the highest building or bridge that you can find that is at least 300 feet off the ground. Proceed to the edge, jump. There, you have now the most effective thing you can possibly do to solve the global warming problem.

Which is not to say that the rest of us should find alternative sources of energy than fossil fuels and should work to eliminate the negative impact of humans on this wonderful earth. I am all for reducing dependence upon Middle East oil, feeding the hungry, educating the uneducated, eliminating poverty, and creating a peaceful world. I am also all for most of us losing a few pounds, exercising more, paying off our debts, and securing our retirement.

Ahhh, reality....

Curly Smith

Fitz: Thank you for your indulgence. Where it now says, I do not understand what you're asking me, we'd change it to "I do not understand what you mean by humanly possible."

Jury: We mean "possible for a human" as opposed to possible for a dog, cat, android, or Special Prosecutor.

If I were on the jury this refusal to answer my questions would just, let's say, annoy me and I'd acquit 30 seconds after receiving the non-answer. Of course, I'm also of the opinion that not being able to decide if Libby was lying after deliberating 7 days defines reasonable doubt.

theo

It will be interesting to see whether the jury takes up Walton on his invitation to refine their question about "not humanly possible" or whether (having been rebuffed three times trying to get help from him) they figure out that they are on their own and just go forward.

I think the frustration and tension have to be rising and thus the chance for a hung jury is going up.

We shall see.

Jane

Accordingly, when huge damage awards abound, it will lead to even more huge awards, as juries begin to think such numbers are "appropriate" for "pain and suffering" etc.

GB,

The point is that there are not a lot of huge damage awards. When one happens the person paying the award makes sure that it gets lots and lots and lots of attention, and that we all moan about how juries have gone amok, but the truth is jury verdicts are way down, and huge awards are rare.

For example doctors win about 99.9% of malpractice cases, yet in this state MD's get an extra bite of the apple. You can't sue a doctor in MA without going thru a tribunal first. And that is the only profession that is true of. So someone wants to sue a doctor, first they have to convince a lawyer, judge and another doc that malpractice occurred (A very high hurdle), and even then, they win 99.9% of the time.

Now I have a million ideas on how to fix the tort system, and I'm very pro reform that cuts out fraud and abuse. So don't pit me in some pro-plaintiff category. I've been in most sides of that system, and the risk management (business) side is by far the one where I grew to understand it the most. You don't have to believe me, but the whole large verdict thing is more PR than it is impactful.

maryrose

OT:
RalphS:
I only atarted blogging here in 2005 after a link from Instapundit. It is interesting to see who was on this blog in 03 and 04.
Also I just returned from Instapundit where I accessed a video recording of Hillary called "Kentucky Fried Hillary. Is she for real with this fake Southern accent? Is there no limit to her stooping to new levels as the pander-bear? This is embarassing to listen to and Obama came out the winner in the Selma smackdown.

MikeS

Wasn't the author of "not humanly possible", expecting Walton to say "No, of course not."

clarice

Yes,I think he was.

Nick Kasoff - The Thug Report

Actuary Jerry provides a good explanation of why civil verdicts matter. Back in the "golden days of class action suits" juries gave away money as though it grew on trees. Then, the chickens came home to roost, as everything from healthcare to cigarettes became more expensive.

I would be interested to hear a bit more from Jerry or anyone else who knows, though. If insurance rates were strictly the product of actuarial calculations, in a world of perfect actuaries every provider would charge the same amount for a particular risk. But it seems to me that many variables other than claim experience enter on the cost side - productivity of labor, and investment yield on insurer's cash reserves and investments, are a couple which come to mind. Do these also matter, or are they insignificant in magnitude compared to the actuarial calculations on premium/claim cash flow?

Nick Kasoff
The Thug Report

theo

I refuse to believe that Jane is saying what people are accusing her of saying. She cannot possibly be saying that no matter how much insurance companies are required to pay out in claims, it has no impact on premiums. That is just not right and I am sure she does not disagree. (I hope, anyway.)

If her point is simply that the risk pool is so large that a big verdict here and there is going to have virtually no impact on anyone's individual premiums, I am sure that she is right.

But it is simply not true that property and casualty insurers' prices have no relationship to their costs. Nor is the P&C business a license to print money, as the liquidation of many (e.g. Reliance) demonstrates. I am positive that Jane understands these things and is not saying anything different.

I strongly believe that people are just talking past each other here. I believe she understands the theoretical relationship between large verdicts and premiums but is just noting that in reality the relationship is not very significant.

Hope so, anyway.

jwest

Clarice (or any other lawyer),

Is it common for a judge to enter an opinion explaining his evidentiary rulings prior to a verdict?

Jane

Granting all of your assumptions, if for the next several years the same number of claims are made with each one averaging a higher amount or more claims are made with the same average amount, totalling in either case say $150 million, is it not inevitable that the premiums will rise, either to cover current operating expenses or to maintain their reserves, which after all are not simply a treasure chest, but a method by which it is assured their insured are covered in the case of extraordinay claims.

WEll ponder this one Barney. In this state premiums have risen steadily since the 70's when I first got into the ins. biz. In the same period of time jury awards have decreased substantially. The first case I ever took to trial in 1988 settled on the second day of trial for $750,000.00. Today that case in MA would be worth about $75,000.00.

Insurers did a phenominal job of convincing people that large awards were damaging to them. But here is the reality. If a jury fails to award a devastatingly injured person enough money to support themselves then the person goes to the state for help. And that help comes directly out of your tax dollar. You and I pay the costs of ss disability, medicaid and every other social program dreamed up by someone.

So figure it out: Do you want the money to come from the insurance policy of the drunk who mowed the guy down, or the doc that left the scapel in the belly cause he wanted to get home, or do you want to pay it? It really is as simple as that.

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