Sunday, October 13, 2019
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Legislative Ambulance Chasers Dig In To Taxpayers' Deep Pockets
By Selected News Articles @ 6:20 PM :: 3770 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Judiciary

"LAFD ambulance". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:LAFD_ambulance.jpg#mediaviewer/File:LAFD_ambulance.jpg

Deep Pockets

From Horns of Jericho Blog, January 28, 2015

Hawaii residents were shocked this morning when the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported at the Attorney General is seeking approval from the Legislature for $1.4-million to pay for two claims against the state. [1, 2, 3] While this is not unusual, it draws attention to a policy shift both in the Legislature and on the 5th floor (Governor’s office):

  1. Former Attorney General David Louie, directed by Neil Abercrombie, was instructed to settle cases wherever possible against the State of Hawaii rather than rigorously defending the State in court against frivolous and unwarranted cases, and
  2. Plaintiff’s attorneys (“ambulance casers”) have taken up powerful positions in the Legislature. These include the House Judiciary Chair, House Finance Chair and House Majority Leader. This is further compounded by the rise of Gil Keith-Agaran to Senate Judiciary (and Labor) Chair.

The plaintiff’s attorney lobby [4] is significant to the everyday person because they profit from every claim that the state pays out to aggrieved individuals. They are more commonly referred to as “ambulance chasers” because they seek out individuals who have been injured as an opportunity to make more money. With $6-billion in revenue, the State of Hawaii is an incredibly deep pocket to tap if you are looking to make a few dollars. Ambulance chasers have a vested interest in being able to win money from the state because these very same claims are their six-figure paychecks.

Below is a brief summary of funds authorized by the Legislature to pay claims against the state:

Year Bill Number # $
2014 SB2246, 2014 31 $2.98 million
2013 HB775, 2013 37 $28.31 million
2012 HB2476, 2012 17 $7.88 million
2011 Not available Not available
2010 SB2661, 2010 38 $9.11 million
2009 HB1016, 2009 35 $7.74 million

It is in the taxpayer’s interest to minimize the number of claims against the state. While the state should be accountable for the actions of itself and its employees, these are taxpayer dollars that are better invested in preventing these actions from happening in the first place. Better management and better oversight would ensure that individuals are neither injured nor aggrieved by the state. Instead, ambulance chasers are looking for additional ways to fatten their wallets under the guise of “adjusting for inflation”.

The most alarming reality is that these very same plaintiff’s attorneys are seeking to increase the cap in claims against the state. With fellow ambulance chasers in positions of power, both the House and Senate are poised to advance HB189 and SB137 in separate hearings on Friday (January 30th). [5] These bills are not in the best interest of the state. These bills are not in the best interest of the taxpayer. It is a bill advanced by ambulance chasers, for ambulance chasers.

What is saddening, however, is that none of the investigative reporters at KHON, KITV and KGMB (and even the liberal tabloid CivilBeat) have looked into how sitting legislators and the law firms that they both work for and represent, have materially benefitted from claims against the state. If they do not look into this, perhaps it is time that the independent State Auditor or the Ethics Commission looked into the matter before a federal prosecutor does.

You can learn more about these bills using the links below. The bill status can be used to submit testimony in opposition (or support) of the bills. While additional comments are helpful, they are not necessary to voice your opinion – a simple “yes” or “no” is the bare minimum for testimony. To submit testimony electronically, you must register at the Hawaii State Legislature’s website. If you choose, you may use any (or all) of this post as part of your comments submitted with your testimony. While most committees accept late testimony, testimony should be submitted 24-hours ahead of the committee’s meeting time.

Committee Date & Time Location Links
Senate Judiciary & Labor Jan 30, 8:30 AM Rm. 016 Bill Status  Hearing Notice
House Judiciary Jan 30, 2:00 PM Rm. 325 Bill Status  Hearing Notice

———————————-

[1] – Claims against the state are the result of lawsuits where the State of Hawaii was found liable for an action and/or injury against another entity (private citizen, non-governmental organization, business, etc.). In addition to passing a budget bill every legislative session, claims against the state are a routine part of legislative business.

[2] – Honolulu Star-Advertiser, January 28, 2015, “Attorney General seeks $1.4 million to settle 2 suits against state”

[3] – While these claims against the state are inexcusable and should not have happened in the first place, this in no way diminishes the deplorable and misfortunate circumstances that initiated these claims.

[4] – The Hawaii Association for Justice (HAJ) represents the interests of money-grabbing plaintiffs. Sitting legislators such as Sylvia Luke are members of HAJ. The singular interest of the HAJ against nearly a hundred pieces of testimony advanced a bill that made the state liable for injuries hikers and rock climbers suffer on state lands.

[5] — Both bills have similar language to raise the cap on claims that require legislative approval. The current cap is $10,000, so most claims (whether agreed upon, arbitrated or judicially mandate do) are envisioned to go to $9999 to maximize benefits without drawing undue scrutiny.  It is unclear why the legislature would forfeit its powers of oversight other than to appease the plaintiff’s attorney lobby. Perhaps to line their own pockets.

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940

ABCDEFG Blog

ACA Signups Hawaii

ACCE

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii

AMVETS-Hawaii

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

Conservative Forum for Hawaii

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

HIEC.Coop 

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube

HPACC

Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

Judgepedia Hawaii

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Salvage The Rail

Save the Plastic Bag

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT