Illinois Civil Justice League: Will the REAL ‘conflict of interest’ be raised?

February 28, 2005

Will the REAL ‘conflict of interest’ be raised?

Trial lawyers and their accomplices ganged up on the state’s only major medical liability insurer last Wednesday calling the business relationship between the non-profit Illinois State Medical Society and the non-profit ISMIE Mutual (the physician-owned medical liability insurer) a “conflict of interest”.

However, the REAL “conflict of interest” is the relationship between the former director Jay Angoff – posing as a “former industry regulator” – and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), which “hired” Angoff sometime before May 2004.

According to then-ITLA President Michael Schostok in his May 2004 Vested Interest column:

What wasn’t as clear was how the medical malpractice liability insurance problem would develop here in Illinois. As it turned out, this issue consumed much of the organization’s efforts over the last year as ITLA sought to preserve the rights of Illinois citizens and uncover the truth behind this reoccurring problem. We responded in an aggressive fashion by hiring a well-respected and nationally-known insurance industry expert, Jay Angoff, to analyze the reasons behind the recent escalation of medical malpractice insurance premiums and to inform state legislators about the reasons behind the “crisis.”

So, when Angoff attacked ISMS and ISMIE last Wednesday, was Angoff providing ITLA with the “aggressive” attack on the insurance industry that ITLA paid him to provide?

While newspapers reported Angoff’s testimony as a “former industry regulator” reciting a perceived “conflict of interest” between ISMS and ISMIE, House legislators were prohibited by the lack of dialogue to ask Angoff about his much more obvious and deliberately concealed “conflict of interest” with the ITLA.

And this isn’t the first time that Angoff has been a paid spokesperson for a trial lawyer’s group…

According to the Baltimore Sun, Angoff is also a paid consultant for the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association. Angoff was also an expert witness for the Kentucky Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Roger Brown & Associates, the firm for which Angoff serves “Of Counsel,” is a plaintiff’s firm specializing in very serious personal injury cases, including medical malpractice, class actions, and wrongful death. Angoff’s biography page lists his memberships with the Missouri Association of Trial Lawyers and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

Further investigation of Jay Angoff’s past affiliations includes stints as counsel for Congress Watch and the National Insurance Consumer Organization, both founded by “consumer” (aka trial lawyer) activist Ralph Nader.

Angoff even has a history of “attacks” on tort reformers, cited in the famous 1990 Forbes “Ralph Nader Inc.” article:

“When American Tort Reform Association former president James Coyne asked Nader about his plaintiff attorney funding at a press conference in Washington, he stormed from the podium and his supporter, Jay Angoff, rushed over and punched Coyne in the eye.

(Only online reprint available at

Walter Olson reports on that Angoff recently represented the Center for Justice and Democracy and ATLA on media conference calls. Also included on the conference calls was William McNary of USAction, the group that ran advertisements criticizing President Bush during his January visit to Madison County.

So how does a trial lawyer who has professional associations with five different trial lawyer groups and Ralph Nader get invited to testify as an insurance industry “expert” before an Illinois House Committee? Without any mention of his recent – or perhaps current – contracts with trial lawyer associations?

Will only the trial lawyers be represented at the reform table again this year? Hopefully, legislators will get to the bottom of these unasked questions today.

Otherwise, someone needs to tell Speaker Madigan, who attended nearly all of the three hour committee hearing last Wednesday, that this year’s effort to reform medical liability is just another half-hearted effort at attacking anything but the REAL problem – the lawsuit abuse perpetrated upon our state’s doctors.


Blogger Amy Allen said...

I concur 100%, Mr Adomite. As usual.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the matter, Al, cat got your tongue?

Or maybe Ed Murnane hasn't told you how to answer the questions yet.

Perhaps you could look to Jim Tierney for advice on how to wear your "insurance hat" and "doctor hat" at the same time.

5:30 AM  

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