Would you like to know why health care costs so much?
Once upon a time, there was a Hospital doing business in darkest Connecticut.
A person presenting for treatment there became disgruntled.
The disgruntled one huffed and puffed, and arrived at the following notion: “I’ll sue the bastards!” She leapt upon her stallion and galloped south to Stamford, where the wild attorneys grow by dozens in the bulrushes and the rules of the court do not apply.
There, she was interviewed by an elderly grandmother lying in a bed.
“You don’t look much like a lawyer,” the disgruntled one said.
“Well, you don’t look disabled,” the lawyer replied. “This is just one of my wilier disguises. If it fooled you, it could fool a jury.”
“Very well,” said the disgruntled one, and signed on the dotted line.
The Hospital had to defend the lawsuit.
It filed motion after motion.
The court said, “Bring me the dimples of Anna Nicole Smith, and the case will be dismissed.” The Hospital attorney duly complied.
“This is not enough,” the Court said. “Produce the rear quarter panel of Joe Namath’s green 1967 Cadillac, and we will surely dismiss the case against the Hospital.”
The wily lawyer disclosed 411 expert witnesses on behalf of the disgruntled one.
Counsel for the Hospital sought to take the depositions of the 411 expert witnesses. Each of them cost grossly inflated hourly rates, and required air transport to places where no direct flights were to be found and magic brooms were denied permission to land. The Hospital paid dearly.
At deposition, the liability expert testified that the Hospital should be dropped into boiling tomato sauce. If it floated, it would be liable. If it sank, got burned or tasted like spaghetti, it would be liable also. No matter what, the Hospital would owe the disgruntled one a very large sum of money.
On a break, the wily attorney in grandmother’s clothing sprinkled a mysterious powder on the Hospital attorney’s Power Bar. “That should fix you,” the wily attorney said.
The Hospital attorney went into a deep trance, and divulged her entire trial strategy to the wily attorney.
The Hospital still had to defend the case.
The wily attorney filed for a continuance.
The Hospital attorney objected. The Court said, “We are still waiting for Muhammad Ali’s dentures. As soon as we get them, we will happily dismiss your claim.”
Years passed, and then the rains came.
The Hospital attorney wearily e-mailed her client.
“Can’t you get this silly thing dismissed?” the Risk Manager wanted to know.
The Hospital attorney yawned. It had taken six decades for the case to reach trial, as the wily attorney had delayed the proceedings periodically on the basis of such compelling reasons as the dragon had set his reply brief aflame. The defense attorney was nearly too weak to fight because of the mysterious potion. The Hospital was nevertheless responsible for paying her hourly rate, which was mounting by the second, as she billed while she was sleeping.
Eventually the case reached trial. It was determined that 410 of the Plaintiff’s experts were actually made of straw.
“Wait,” the Hospital attorney said, “I have a motion for summary judgment.”
The Court replied. “There is a genuine issue of material fact which can only be resolved by the testimony of Don Vito Corleone.”
The Hospital quietly went bankrupt during jury selection.
The disgruntled one got a job as a paralegal.
The wily attorney is hiding in the bulrushes, lazily transforming blades of grass into double sawbucks.
The Hospital attorney turned into a pumpkin, and appeared in the movie “Hallowe’en XXVIII: The Dim Reaper.”
For all the foregoing reasons, health care is expensive.
Also: Eating too many chocolate chip cookies before bed may result in delusional dreams about the workplace.
Amy F. Goodusky, a former paralegal, rock ‘n’ roll singer and horseback riding instructor, is of counsel at O’Brien, Tanski & Young in Hartford.