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Letters to the Editor

The power of an apology

Diane Curtis refers to Harvard researcher David Studdert’s survey finding that there is a 95 percent chance that total claims volume (and total direct costs of compensation) will increase with full disclosure policies (June). I applaud Studdert for shifting the conversation from one strictly focused on numbers of plaintiffs filing suit alleging medical error to one addressing disclosure and its impact on claims, although the survey results appear to be primarily speculative. I hope that the next survey focusing on claims after full disclosure can also address the tremendous future savings associated with the learning and systems improvements that result from full disclosure.

Curtis also refers to apology in the medical malpractice litigation arising from the death of James Woods’ brother, Michael. That case resolved after grueling years of litigation and trial when the CEO of the hospital apologized. Woods had another tragic story of medical error in his family, one in which the physician had acknowledged error, apologized and showed the family the utmost respect. According to Woods, the family could have sued; in fact, the physician told them they probably should sue, but the acknowledgment, recognition, support and respect shown the family was all they wanted and needed. Imagine the emotional and financial savings, the healing and collaboration, that could have occurred in the Michael Woods case had there been acknowledgment and apology at the outset, rather than three plus years later.

Kathleen Clark
Pleasant Hill

Turned off by Gates

I’m not sure that I would have attended the annual State Bar convention this year anyway. I’m not the most regular of attendees. But I know for sure that I won’t be attending now that I know that one of the highlight speakers will be the now-famous Professor Henry Louis Gates from Harvard.

I’ve heard enough from him, and about him, to know that he is not someone to whom I would want to lend support. He has milked enough from his poor behavior.

David Stringer
San Bernardino

How about some real reform?

I read with interest President Howard Miller’s June column in the Bar Journal. I am amazed that anyone involved in the State Bar takes wasteful and dilatory litigation seriously. The failure of the State Bar to curb such abuse borders on either criminal or perpetuation of self-interest. No other group in the state is better situated to offer solutions for a system that has crushed individuals and small businesses under the gavel of courts.

Miller is the president of the bar. Can we expect some serious reforms dealing with this cancer under Mr. Miller? One of the great ironies of the English language is that both “slim” and “fat” chance describe the odds of reform coming from the bar.

David Goodwin
Los Angeles

More detail on loan mods

Wow! You guys have really missed the mark! I just read the article on short sales (June), and nowhere is there any statement that a short sale is a loan modification under Civil Code §§ 2944.6 and 2944.7. There seems to be a lack of understanding at the bar association and the A.G.’s office as to what a short sale is. It is a huge loan modification. The terms of the loan are being massively modified to reduce what has to be paid by the borrower to obtain a reconveyance in exchange for the lender getting a substantial payment of cash and, in many instances, an agreement and promissory note from the borrower to pay the shortfall over time. Thus, one of the points in your article, that brokers need DRE approval before they can get paid in advance, totally misses the mark. Sections 2944.6 and 2944.7 have no DRE-approval exception in favor of brokers.

These code sections were foolishly enacted in the first place. There were other criminal sanctions, such as grand theft by false pretenses (Penal Code §§ 484 and 487) as well as false or misleading advertising (B&P §§ 17500 et seq), and I’m sure there are others. There were civil remedies, including injunctive relief, that the A.G. could have pursued against the so-called modification mills.

There was no need to bar, from a practical standpoint, experienced lawyers, who always require a retainer from all new clients, from representing people who want loan modifications. There is no pot of gold at the end of the day to pay legal fees even in the highly unlikely event that a meaningful loan modification is obtained by the debtor. Thus, the debtor gets no loan modification and no legal representation on the myriad of topics that should have been discussed instead of the unobtainable loan modification, such as whether there is anti-deficiency protection, likelihood of judicial foreclosure, obtainable loan modifications called short sales, walk-away, bankruptcy, “where’s the note,” yada yada.

All in all, a very disappointing article that totally misses the mark.

Gary Stephenson
San Diego


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