Bork falls down stairs, sues Yale Club for $1M

The seems like it could be a “frivolous lawsuit” if he is indeed covered by insurance, which he probably is. Is it possible that his insurance company requires that he sue in order to make a claim, though? I have no idea how this works, but if the insurance company finds Yale to be at fault, this might explain it. If it is, I don’t know whether the lawsuit would be initiated by Bork or his insurance company, or if the former whether or not the insurance company would show up on the lawsuit.

Some medical insurance companies won’t cover an accident if they think some other insurance company can reasonably be put on the hook for it. This happens all the time with an elderly patient on Medicare, for instance, who slips and falls at Wal*Mart; or who gets into an MVA; or who get into an auto accident.

In the process of being seen at the hospital, the receptionist probably asked, “Is this related to a job-related accident?” and similar questions that would’ve alerted his insurance company that it could dodge the claim and put it on someone else.


That’s exactly it. It’s standard in insurance policies that when they make a pay-out to the beneficiary, the beneficiary gives them the right to sue any one who may be liable for the accident. If the accident was caused by someone else, the insurance company then can try to recover the money they’ve paid out.

Why do you think that the availability of insurance would make this a frivolous lawsuit? The law says that the occupier of property owes a duty of care to anyone who comes into it, not just to people without insurance. If the occupier has been negligent and created an unsafe situation, why should the insurance company bear the cost, rather than the occupier?

This might affect the number of speaking engagements Bork gets invited to. I hope he has other hobbies.

If only he’d had a Dr. Seuss-like, prehensile beard to arrest his fall…

No. This is handled by the law of subrogation. The insurer, typically, is subrogated to Bork’s rights. If it found Yale at fault, the insurer could sue for what it paid out. This almost never happens. Instead the injured person sues, the jury isn’t permitted to hear about his insurance coverage (this is called the collateral source rule), and then if everybody plays fair, and if he wins the case, the insurance company gets its money back out of the judgment or settlement. If everybody doesn’t play fair, the Plaintiff may not report the lawsuit to the insurance company, and might try to keep :eek: the double recovery for himself.

I think you are confusing two things:

Primary responsibility for medical bills among first party insurers (those who have an obligation to pay medical bills for the plaintiff; health, no-fault auto, worker’s compensation) and liability of third-parties and their liability insurers. It’s true that first party insurers will bicker among themselves about whose coverage is primary. It’s false that they can force an injured person to sue the person that injured them in order to get their medical bills paid. One first party insurer or another is liable (assuming the plaintiff has redundant first party coverages).

So the slip and fall at Wal Mart doesn’t fit the pattern, and neither does Bork’s case. As a Federal Judge he’s got first party medical insurance. The insurer simply can’t say, “Yale hurt you, get them to pay.” That defeats the purpose of first party medical insurance. OTOH, if he was in an automobile accident, there could be a dispute between his automobile insurer and his health insurer over who was primarily responsible for the tab.

For the record, I agree with **Otto **. Bork got his medical bills paid, and is seeking compensation for exactly the sort of thing that tort reformers say should be unavailable, or at least limited. Filing a lawsuit is optional, and the types of damages sought is too. He could easily have sued for out-of-pocket expenses and set an example. Instead, he sued for one million dollars, I don’t dispute that he may be entitled to it under existing law; In fact, I disagree with much of the tort reform agenda. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s taking advantage of a regime that he’d like to overturn. Some of the reports say he’s even seeking punitive damages, which makes him an even bigger hypocrite.

New York has abrogated the collateral source rule for malpractice cases and cases against public employers, but not for slip and fall cases:

People, people…more than one of you has used the above phrase, as if Yale College or the other schools making up Yale University were somehow involved here.

Bork bonked his wee dull poll at the Yale Club of New York City, an establishment that has nothing to do with the University save that a large percentage of its members hold Yale degrees. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe that that is even a perquisite of membership. Although if you happen to have a Harvard degree, I suppose you’d rather join, I dunno, the Harvard Club maybe.

I’m not at all sure we know that without a public hearing that examines the incident. That’s what a trial is.

Once again, I see no problem with Bork suing for actual damages, lost time, etc. but $1 million must include a lot of etc. and probably some punitive damages. If that’s the case, that’s what make it hypocritical.

Right. Missed that. Sorry.

Sans trial, it’d be helpful to know how many other speakers had clambered up the perilous podium that day. Were any of them injured? Did any refuse to climb? Is there a photo of the dais on line, so that we can access the risk?

I work in a medical clinic. I bill insurances daily.

Medicare will pay for an accident, auto or otherwise. However, if they get wind that a claim has been filed against another insurance company they are going to ask us for a refund of their money. Other insurance companies, such as Blue Shield, will often send the patient an “incident report” on accident-related claims prior to paying.

Of course not.

That’s the first category I mentioned. The debate there is about which insurer is primarily liable for the medical bills.

This is related to subrogation. While medical insurers don’t often directly enforce their subrogation rights, they usually can, and the insured has an obligation to assiste the company with enforcement (by giving them information about the accident) and not to interfere with them.

Right, good post.

I’d also accept a “loss of income” claim if the fall forced him to cancel other engagements. But anything else is being an asshole.

Bork is weird. I saw him discussing a Supreme Court case on The News Hour. The case had been decided the day before and Bork was of the opinion that it had been decided wrongly. The other guy was an attorney who had argued the case for the winning side.

Bork’s line was structured as if he were teaching a class in law school. He kept bringing up general legal principles. Every time he would state an objection to the way the thing was decided the other guy would point out that the exact point was raised during the court hearing and rejected by the Court for ___________ reasons.

Bork was obviously unprepared to discuss the case except in very general terms and he was arguing with the guy who had actually made the presentation to the Court. I decided that if I needed someone to charge uphill, across 300 yards of open ground to take a machine gun I would choose Robert Bork.

He had better not represent himself in the lawsuit.

He essentially states in his complaint that he attempted to mount the dais, although it was at an unreasonable height.

Yeah, that’s one side of it. That side is biased as is the other side. The object is to find out what were actually the facts of the incident and detimine who, if anyone, was at fault.

I think Contrapuntal’s point is that even assuming Bork’s statement of the facts is uncontested, Bork admits to attempting to mount a dais via steps whose defects (unreasonable height, lack of a handrail) were in plain view.

If there are differing claims of fact, the other side’s version of the facts are almost certain to be less to Bork’s benefit than Bork’s version of the facts.

As I said way up the thread, I don’t see anything wrong with Bork suing for his actual damages, lost time, lawyers’ fees, and maybe a little something for the inconvenience. The hypocrisy is in the amount. That amount make his stance on tort reform look like hypocritical grandstanding.

However I don’t think we can just blithely assume that Bork “did it to himself” by going up the stairs.

So what amount would be reasonable to you?

Keep in mind, these things typically get settled out of court. What we are hearing now is the opening position of the Bork side of the negotiation. I do not think he will get one million bucks, and neither does he.

But had he asked for less, he would expect less in the settlement.