The Republican Party candidate for Ohio’s 15th District congressional seat (currently held by centrist Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy) is former banking lobbyist Steve Stivers. This Monday, Stivers sent out an accusatory e-mail. It reads:
Dear Friend and Supporter –
While I was going door to door and volunteering at the Hilltop Bean Dinner and London Strawberry Festival on Saturday, Mary Jo Kilroy slinked away to Cincinnati to join Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Ohio Democrat Congressional Delegation at a $30,000 per couple fund raising dinner at the home of multi-millionaire trail [sic] lawyer Stan Chesley.
It can only be assumed that this is a thank you for her vote for the heath [sic] care bill, which did not include tort reform.
“Tort reform” is an ongoing policy effort to reduce Americans’ ability to sue for damages. In the area of health care reform, “tort reform” efforts would limit Americans’ ability to sue doctors or corporations who provide health care in cases of alleged medical malpractice. Steve Stivers accuses Stan Chesley of hosting a fundraiser for Kilroy as a favor in return for Kilroy’s vote for a health care bill without medical tort reform. This accusation only makes sense if Stan Chesley makes his living as a lawyer suing health care providers.
A simple check of Stanley Chesley’s legal practice shows that Chesley’s primary area of focus is in financial securities, an area wholly unrelated to health care provision. A secondary focus of Chesley’s is lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers, not against health care providers. In Chesley’s portfolio of cases, the only lawsuit filed against any entity even closely related to a health care provider was Chesley’s Academy of Medicine v. Aetna (a health insurance corporation). However, this case did not involve patients suing doctors, but rather doctors suing an insurance corporation. The allegation had nothing directly to do with health care provision, but rather focused on an accusation that Aetna had engaged in price fixing.
In short, Stan Chesley’s area of law is unrelated to the medical malpractice lawsuits that are the central focus of medical tort reform. Because Chesley does not sue health care providers for his living, Steve Stivers’ accusation — of quid pro quo fundraising in exchange for a health care reform vote — does not make sense. If this is what Steve Stivers means to imply, he should issue a prompt retraction of his accusation.
Update 1: although Steve Stivers criticizes Mary Jo Kilroy for her YES vote on health care reform, in his 2008 congressional campaign Stivers declared his support for such a measure.
Update 2: Modern Esquire has shared in the comments below that Stanley Chesley’s firm (if not Stan Chesley himself) may have participated in medical malpractice lawsuits against practitioners. I cannot personally find a case confirming this: if you are aware of one, please let me know with a helpful link. From the descriptions of work done by Chesley’s firm, it appears that they do not concentrate in the area (and in fact do not mention malpractice lawsuits against practitioners or hospitals or health insurance companies at all). To the extent that the firm’s practice areas intersect with medicine, they have to do with class-action lawsuits for medical product liability (an area not covered by this year’s new health care reform law). To the extent that the firm’s practice areas intersect with personal injury, they have to do with corporate and product hazards (again an area not covered by this year’s new health care reform law). It appears to me (and again, if you can provide evidence to the contrary please do share) that neither Stan Chesley nor his firm stand to profit from the medical malpractice provisions of the health care reform bill health care reform bill (which neither tightens nor loosens medical malpractice laws).