May 4th, 2008

Eliot Spitzer Enters Private Practice

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer entered private practice yesterday with Spitzer & Associates. Part of his practice will be personal injury law, among other matters within his unique world view. This includes, as he makes clear, some unique slip and fall cases as well as defective product litigation.

His entire announcement is here:


March 12th, 2008

Eliot’s Mess: The Ramifications for Medical Malpractice "Reform" in New York

In case anyone wondered why a personal injury blogger was covering the Eliot Spitzer scandal — aside from the fact that his New York office is two blocks away from me and news helicopters are buzzing overhead as he prepares to resign — it’s because it may have deep ramifications for medical-legal issues here.

Just two days ago, before the scandal broke, I wrote about 1,500 doctors rallying in Albany. I debunked the myths that the New York Medical Society was using to support artificial one-size-fits-all caps on medical malpractice suits in their discussions with elected officials.

Part of the Medical Society press release, which I didn’t discuss at the time, has this quote from Spitzer:

“I look forward to standing with you when we sign these medical liability changes into law.”

So Spitzer, who’s brother is also a neurosurgeon, was an important ally of the physicians in trying to limit patient rights. Victimized patients will not be sorry to see him go if this was the issue that they held most dear to their hearts.

Assembly Republican Leader Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) had this to say about incoming Governor David Paterson, as he set the bar high:

“David Paterson’s life story is, in a word, inspirational. His public record is one of overcoming obstacles, showing true character in the face of daunting adversity and being able to bridge Albany’s bitter partisan divide that has, regrettably, widened into a chasm in recent years.”

“Governor Paterson knows the meaning of honor and has shown in both his deeds and words that he is a man of the highest public and personal integrity. His inherent decency and desire to put advancing the interests of the 18 and a half million New Yorkers we represent ahead of political partisanship will truly be a breath of fresh air.”

Addendum on 3/13/08: Last year, after a 14% medical malpractice insurance hike, Spitzer enacted a medial malpractice liability task force to suggest solutions. It remains to be seen what will happen to it.

More (3/19/08): The National Association of Manufacturers gives its take here: On the Tort Reform Angle, Too Bad about Spitzer


March 12th, 2008

Eliot’s Mess: Payments May Total 80K With Use of State Funds for Transport

After I posted yesterday morning that Eliot Spitzer’s problems were likely well beyond the $4,300 of published reports, the New York Daily News reports today said that he may have spent as much as $80,000 on prostitutes, and that the may have used state funds to fly to and from the rendezvous points. The report also states that the liaisons have been found to go back about 18 months.

If true, this adds yet another layer to the hypocrisy of Spitzer, whose office last year went after New York State Senator Joe Bruno, the top Republican in the state, for using state funds (a helicopter) for political business.


March 11th, 2008

Eliot’s Mess: Did The Payments Exceed $10,000?

Update: 3/12/08Payments may be as high as $80,000, and state funds may have been used for transportation.
Original on 3/11/08 — Did Eliot Spitzer’s payments to the prostitution ring exceed $10,000, well above the $4,300 of initial reports?

I don’t generally delve into criminal law, but this jumped out at me, and it deals with “structuring.” According to a post at Overlawyered, these are the elements:

31 U.S.C. 5324 prohibits certain actions by any person who acts with the purpose of evading the reporting requirements of Section 5313 (Currency Transaction Reports). The definition of structuring for purposes of currency transaction reporting is found at 31 C.F.R. 103.11(gg). The elements of the structuring regulations are:

A person acting alone, in conjunction with others, or on behalf of others,

Conducts or attempts to conduct,

One or more transactions in currency,

In any amount,

At one or more financial institutions,

On one or more days,

For the purpose of evading the reporting requirements of 31 C.F.R. 103.22 (requiring CTRs).

But something is missing, and that is the follow-up to 31 CFR 103.22, if in fact, that is what was being investigated.

And according to 31 CFR 103.22, the amount must exceed $10,000. So while folks are talking about $4,300 in payments to the prostitution ring, that smaller amount of money wouldn’t have tickled the bank into reporting this potential structuring crime to the IRS, would it?

It seems likely that an amount in excess of $10,000 must be at issue if this is what was being investigated, which means more of a mess than Eliot already has. And to tickle the bank to act, it may be a sum well in excess of that amount, because I wouldn’t think an investigation would be opened if they simply saw two transactions of, say, $6,000 each a few days apart. There could be substantially more at play here.

Addendum: Forty television trucks have encircled the Capitol for the media feeding frenzy.


March 10th, 2008

Rumor: Spitzer to Resign, Paterson to be sworn in tonight

Rumors out of Albany, via CBS radio is that Spitzer will resign and swear in Lt. Gov. David Paterson tonight. [Note: Paterson has only one “t,” which we might as well start getting used to.]

Feds have at least six different recordings from Client #9, believed to be Spitzer.

Spitzer’s statement:

Today, I want to briefly address a private matter. I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and that violates my or any sense of right and wrong. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the public, to whom I promised better. I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals; it is about ideas, the public good and doing what is best for the State of New York. I am disappointed. I failed to live up to the standard I expect of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family. I will not be taking questions. Thank you very much. I will report back to you in short order.

He took no questions. Video of very brief press conference is here.

It’s hard to run as a law and order candidate, presenting yourself as squeaky clean, and survive this type of thing. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. It also doesn’t help him that he antagonized so many people, on both the left and the right. Who’s going to go to bat for him and tell him to ride it out?

On a final note, it appears from news reports that Spitzer called for, umm, service, on February 13th. Pretty weird way to plan for Valentines Day if you ask me.