Posted by: bridget | 14 October 2007

Sunday Round-Up

Massachusetts insurers are refusing to insure the Cape, Islands, and other coastal areas.  Some insurance companies have made homeowners responsible for 5% of the cost.  Others are simply refusing to insure those areas.  Insurance companies are pulling out of those markets because a hurricane could wreck financial havoc on those companies.

Private insurance companies are not responsible for flood insurance; instead, it is obtained through the federal government.  Homeowner’s insurance costs about $786/year in Florida, $1,200/year in Texas (here), and, presumably, less than $660/year in Massachusetts (as MA is not in the Forbes Top 10, the lowest of which is $660/year).  Flood insurance alone for high-risk flood areas costs $5,358/year for a quarter-million dollars of coverage (here). 

In theory, insurance companies can keep rates down by not covering floods; after all, flood insurance increases premiums in high-risk areas by a factor of ten.  (Low-risk areas are charged $317/year for the same coverage.)  As State Farm found out the hard way, however, judges and juries will still nail insurance companies, requiring them to provide coverage never paid for (previously blogged here). 

Massachusetts could rectify this problem by elilminating a common-law cause of action for breach of contract for refusal to pay for damage caused by floods.  Insurance companies would have limited, known exposure, and could price premiums appropriately.  Hell could freeze over, too.

—–

Evil lawyers have abandoned the public interest and are retreating to marble-tilied enclaves.  As such, the little guy, with the help of the internet, is left to fend for himself when dealing with everyday legal problems.  At least that is what the NY Times is saying about do-it-yourself wills and trusts.

Wills prepared by a lawyer often cost $800 to $1,000, said Alan Rothschild, an estate planning lawyer in Columbus, Ga…. Living trusts typically cost even more.  These fees may seem high to young families, who typically have little cash to spare but a compelling need to name potential future guardians and make financial arrangements for their children.

Well, yes, coughing up a grand isn’t always easy.  It is hardly evidence, however, of unmitigated greed.  If a will takes about five hours to draft (including initial meetings, drafting, and legal research), the $160/hour fee, which includes overhead costs, is in line with what accountants and engineers charge for their time.  It avoids problems like the following:

In one family with whom Mr. [Tony] Turner worked, a stepmother used software to leave everything to her children, he said. Unfortunately, the law said she didn’t have any children: she had never adopted her stepchildren. As a result, it cost them $100,000 in legal fees to claim their inheritance.

Well, don’t ya think that the extra $700 would have been well-spent?  After all, a happy family is not insurance against a contested will: many states have provisions which allow it to seize large portions of the deceased’s property, should he die intestate.

——-

Prisoners flyers will no longer feel like Somalian refugees while traveling.  Delta announced that its passengers will be able to purchase its version of Todd English’s fantastic meals on-board: 

Items being considered include: smoked salmon and egg salad croissant; roast beef steak cobb sandwich; chicken and avocado wrap; beet, walnut, manchego and spinach salad; and Olives’ hummus, based on the recipe from English’s restaurant of the same name.

Yum!  Maybe the pachyderm will have to consider her drive-anywhere policy. 

——

In related news, researchers have found that chocolate lovers have different bacteria in their digestive tracts than do non-chocolate lovers.  Lausanne, Switzerland researchers studied 11 men who love chocolate and 11 whack jobs men who don’t like chocolate. 

The researchers examined the byproducts of metabolism in their blood and urine and found that a dozen substances were significantly different between the two groups. For example, the amino acid glycine was higher in chocolate lovers, while taurine (an active ingredient in energy drinks) was higher in people who didn’t eat chocolate. Also chocolate lovers had lower levels of the bad cholesterol, LDL.

Ergo: it’s not the pachyderm’s fault that she keeps Ghirardelli’s in business.  Blame the little unicellular organisms who have taken up residence in her digestive tract.   

——-

Ellen Goodman misses the point: in a discussion about the upcoming Supreme Court decision about the constitutionality of the death penalty, she writes:

The case brought by two death row inmates in Kentucky doesn’t ask whether the death penalty constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment,” but only whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual. The justices will be asked to rule on the method, not on the madness…. 

The argument about the ways and means of execution reflects our great ambivalence – the thrust and the recoil – between the desire for punishment and the revulsion from inflicting cruelty, pain, death. I have long shared that ambivalence.

Er, not exactly.  One part of America has no problem with the death penalty and enacts laws that allow us to execute people who rape and murder children.  The other faction thinks that the mere possibility of anything but the most painless of deaths is unconstitutional.  In fact, they would love to challenge the constitutionality of the death penalty,but the Supreme Court has already ruled otherwise.  So, in a thinly-veiled attempt to re-write the Constitution to prohibit the death penalty, the Leftists bring cases designed to effectively prohibit states from administering any form of the death penalty.  Given that household pets are put to death by the drug cocktail given to murderers, one must wonder whether PETA has filed an amicus brief with the Court. 

Ms. Goodman never speaks about our ambivalence about abortion when we outlaw partial-birth abortion, but permit abortion-on-demand in the first trimester.  Yet, the same concept is at play here: the Left has attempted to write abortion in to the Constitution and write the death penalty out of it, which causes jurisprudential hell as the Supreme Court tries to get out of its own way. 

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Responses

  1. How did you miss this one?

    Blind people sue Target

    “US District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in the Court for the Northern District of California had previously ruled that the inaccessibility of Target.com impeded full and equal enjoyment of goods and services offered in Target stores pursuant to the ADA. She has now ruled that the case is eligible for class action status and she rejected an effort by Target to have the case thrown out.”

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/14/california_target_web_accessibility/

    Maybe they’ll use you soon enough since they can’t access your content. :-)

  2. Yeah, I missed that one. I blawg about that & the labour suit soon.

  3. What is this “blawging” you speak of? HA!

  4. Pardon? Sometime or another, I’ll get around to writing about law-related issues. :p

    Is this pick on the chocolate-lover day?

  5. Awww, how sad. I went over and put that mean bully in his place.

  6. Awww, thank you. I read your response, ThunderLips. Much love (in a very non-sexual way, much as I might admire the results of your weight-loss regimen). :p

    Check out my new “about” section and the comment policy. :)

  7. I haven’t checked yet, but so help me if it says I am not allowed to post totally random links to left wing craziness or statistics that just plain smell fishy…

    Oh, wait, it says I can. Well that’s okay.

  8. (Laughing)

    You’re allowed to post links to left-wing craziness, because you always follow up such links with some good, old-fashioned eye-rolling. ;)

  9. Ugh… he’s at it again. Is this miserable person week? What about me inspires the lectures?


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