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OLENDER: DON’T COUNT TRIAL LAWYERS OUT To the editor: Jonathan Groner’s report on business efforts to curtail damage actions [" Lobby for Plaintiffs Bar Faces Trying Times," April 14, 2003, Page 1] is, as usual, thoughtful and honest. However, one should not come away with the conclusion that Goliath is about to slay David. It is nothing new for Goliath (the “haves” or business interests) to try to slay David (the “have nots” or consumers, patients, etc.). With perseverance, David will overcome again. With a conservative business-oriented Republican president and Congress, the business and insurance interests may seem indomitable. However, putting a face on the faceless victims who would be re-victimized by various tort “reforms” can turn the situation around. The federal malpractice caps appear stalled by the surfacing of a victim who received a double mastectomy for a wrongful diagnosis of cancer and by a young child who received the wrong heart-lung transplant which killed her. The public is shocked by such revelations. However, they are not uncommon. The nefarious shroud of secrecy exacted as a condition of settlement keeps most of these cases from the public’s view and preserves false reputations of doctors and hospitals as saints. There are many such cases. For example, the undersigned has had the privilege of representing a gentleman who received the wrong kidney for a transplant at a hospital in the District of Columbia and is now doomed to die for lack of a proper transplant. Any active malpractice lawyer could detail dozens of horrifying cases of medical and hospital carelessness and neglect. Putting a face on the victims and survivors is crucial to defeating legislation that business and insurance interests seek that would trivialize innocent victims and survivors of malpractice. Otherwise, it is just a battle of statistics. Even the statistics are startling. Five percent of the physicians are responsible for 54 percent of malpractice payments, according to the National Practitioners Data Bank. We do need legitimate “reform.” Control the insurance industry which, like professional baseball, is exempt from antitrust laws. Supervise and discipline physicians; D.C. ranks 51st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia. We deserve better. Jack H. Olender Jack H. Olender & Associates Washington, D.C. SLAVERY’S PAST ON HOMELAND SITE UNEARTHED To the editor: As a longtime faculty member of Georgetown Day School, I thoroughly enjoyed James H. Johnston’s history piece for “After Hours” about the site of the Department of Homeland Security [" If This Land Could Talk," April 7, 2003, Page 20]. What a dark irony that the District’s first integrated school should have spent 10 years on land that knew the evil of slavery. I hope the ghosts of those enslaved that were laid to rest there appreciated the transformation of their master’s house. Kevin Barr Director of Studies Georgetown Day School Washington, D.C.

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