Dentist Facing Criminal Charges for Exposing Thousands to HIV

As if the fear of a dentist’s chair wasn’t already bad enough… The Tulsa Health Department recently warned thousands of patients of a local dentist that they may have contracted HIV, hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C due to poorly cleaned dental instruments. Of the 3,122 patients tested thus far, 57 tested positive for hepatitis C, three tested positive for hepatitis B, and at least one person tested positive for HIV according to recent reports. The cause? Dr. W. Scott Harrington allegedly re-used needles and used rusty instruments on patients with known infectious diseases, which could have put many at risk, according to a complaint filed by the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry.
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Up-tick in Housing Market Means Increased Risk

The good news is that April typically marks the busy season for home sales and the housing market continues to gather strength. The bad news is that increased activity may mean additional professional liability risks face architects and engineers, designers, agents, inspectors and all real estate professionals. With all signs suggesting that the housing market is picking up momentum, and that trend is expected to continue, real estate professionals will find themselves with more work but they must proceed with caution.
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A Gap in the Professional Liability Insurance Marketplace?

Is “tailor-made” coverage for emerging industries the future of professional liability insurance? “Traditional professional liability” policies, which typically serve lawyers, accountants, architects, brokers and doctors, may no longer provide the precise fit for evolving professionals. “Whether their clients are consultants, nurse’s aides or chicken sexers, many producers have found a gap in the professional liability marketplace,” according to the Insurance Journal. Coverage has not always kept pace with occupational changes, leaving many professionals pushing for an insurance product that addresses the biggest industry-specific exposures. So-called “tailor-made” policies may fill this gap.
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The Risks of Online Consultation

We’re inundated with online advice, whether solicited or not. Many of us utilize various online sources to obtain quick answers without live, in-person consultation from a licensed professional. WebMD is the classic example of such a site but there are countless others devoted to providing professional advice to an unknown audience. We previously warned of the malpractice and ethical risks of providing online professional services when we posted about the lawsuit filed against Dr. Oz following his infamous “sleep aid solution.” To combat these risks, some jurisdictions regulate the use of online services for various classes of professionals. Such regulations were brought to the test when an internet savvy veterinarian recently filed suit against a Texas regulatory board for suspending his license.
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Avoiding the Courtroom through a Mediation Clause

Litigation costs are higher today than ever. A recent Duke University survey revealed that litigation costs continue to rise and are consuming an increasing percentage of US corporate revenue. Since 2000, litigation costs have increased 73% and that increase is not due to higher hourly rates but rather more lawsuits. What is the takeaway for you Mr./Ms. Professional? Stay out of the courtroom! You’re reading Professional Liability Matters so you have adopted some risk management savvy but inevitably you are likely to confront some dispute despite your best efforts. Accordingly, your engagement letter and particularly a well-tailored mediation/arbitration clause may be the perfect safety net.
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Firing Problem Employees: A How-To Guide

“They come into work disheveled and drunk. They swear while talking to customers. They have sex with a co-worker in the stockroom. Or worse yet, they steal money from the company or threaten to hurt the boss. Some employees turn out to be bad news for a company and need to be fired, but how can a company show misbehaving workers the door while protecting itself from wrongful termination or discrimination suits?” Our friends at Law360 provide great insight on the difficult and risky task of terminating an employee, here.
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LinkedIn Escapes Cyber-Liability Exposure

In June 2012, the popular social networking website LinkedIn was hacked resulting in approximately 6.4 million passwords stolen from the website. Within hours of the incident, the passwords were posted on the internet and were used to direct traffic to fraudulent websites. The massive security breach also resulted in a class action lawsuit against "the world's largest professional network" in the Northern District of California. The plaintiff class alleged that LinkedIn failed to adequately and properly secure the personal information stored on its website. This is the classic example of cyber-liability exposure.
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What’s the Going Rate to Buy a Witness? About $10,000 an Hour…

Parties are free to pay fact witnesses exorbitant fees, according to New York’s highest court, so long as the jury is alerted to the potential for bias. In a recent decision before the New York Appellate Division, an orthopedic surgeon received $10,000 to testify against a woman he treated after she allegedly fell while walking her dog in Peekskill, New York. Notably, the surgeon did not provide expert advice, rather he received the hefty sum to merely recount for the jury his conversations with the plaintiff during his examination. This raises some concerns regarding ethical treatment of witnesses.
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Rutgers: Don’t Look at Me…My Lawyer Made Me Do It

As is so often the case, with mounting pressure and criticism comes finger-pointing. In the midst of a well-publicized scandal, Rutgers University is now suggesting that poor advice from its outside counsel led to a series of infamous decisions regarding its former basketball coach. According to reports, as Rutgers' athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned Friday amid the scandal over men’s basketball coach Mike Rice’s unorthodox practices, he blamed the school administration for following a “process” that allowed Rice to stay on-board. With its back against the wall, Rutgers laid part of the blame on the Roseland, New Jersey law firm that allegedly balked at recommending Rice’s termination.
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Serious Sanctions Imposed for Deleting a Facebook Account

A New Jersey federal judge recently ruled that a plaintiff's deletion of his Facebook account amounted to the sanctionable destruction of evidence. This decision has major implications on social media discovery in all litigation. Some experts believe that this result proves that “social media access is fair game in litigation and that workers who try to conceal their online lives will pay a high price.”
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