Preston, J.G.


J.G. Preston is the Press Secretary at the Consumer Attorney's of California.

No Lawsuit Has Ever Been Filed After Using a Lawnmower as a Hedge Trimmer – But the Story Persists

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

It’s the urban legend that refuses to die…never mind that it was debunked in 1977.

A story posted May 29 on the website of Advisen addressed the state of the product liability insurance market. The story, credited to BestWire Services, originated from the offices of A.M. Best, “a full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the insurance industry,” and was written by Meg Green, senior associate editor of BestWeek, the company’s subscription publication that contains ratings information and analysis.

Green wrote that product liability “was the least profitable line among property/casualty insurers from 2001 to 2010, according to A.M. Best data.” She described the business as “beset by high costs,” for reasons one insurance executive spelled out in simple English.

California’s Biggest Verdicts Go To Businesses, Not Individuals

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

The National Law Journal published its list of the nation’s Top 100 Verdicts of 2011 in its print issue of March 12. (The online version of the report is available only to paid subscribers.) Of those Top 100 verdicts, 18 were handed down in California, either in state or federal court; since California has only 12% of the nation’s population, this would seem to fit the notion that California is a “litigious” state. Furthermore, those 18 California verdicts all rank among the 67 highest nationally, making up almost 27% of that total.

But before the “tort reform” crowd gets too carried away with decrying California’s “runaway juries” and “jackpot justice,” they should take a look at who’s winning these cases.

Lawmakers Bid to Close Loopholes on Malfunctioning Med Devices

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

We have all heard the horror stories. Artificial hips that grind and pop inside the human body. Internal heart defibrillators meant to save lives that instead go haywire and cause harm. Organ pumps that end up performing like a reject fuel-injection system. Woven mesh surgical patches for mending bladder and other organ tears that end up failing.

But now a group of federal lawmakers are stepping up to take on medical device manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration, the gatekeeper for deciding if such devices go on the market.

Fewer Nurses at For-Profit Nursing Homes Leads to Poorer Care

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

The quest for profit in the nursing home industry is leading to lower quality care for seniors as a result of dangerously-, and sometimes illegally-, low staffing levels.

“Poor quality of care is endemic in many nursing homes, but we found that the most serious problems occur in the largest for-profit chains,” according to University of California, San Francisco professor emerita Charlene Harrington, who led a study on the issue that has been published online in Health Services Research. Harrington also said in a university news release, “The top 10 chains have a strategy of keeping labor costs low to increase profits. They are not making quality a priority.”

The Truth About “Tort Reform” And Corporate Immunity in Texas

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

The non-profit watchdog group Texas Watch has issued a report detailing the impact of the many changes in civil justice under the guise of “tort reform” that have been made under governor (and now presidential candidate) Rick Perry. That report, “Tort ‘Reform’ in Texas: Implementing the Corporate Immunity Agenda,” begins:

CA Supreme Court Comes Down in Favor of Big Insurance, Against Consumers

By J.G. Preston

In a decision delivered August 18, the California Supreme Court ruled those who cause injuries, not those who were injured, will benefit from the reduced prices for medical care and services negotiated by the insurance company of the person who was injured.

The ruling in Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions found that “personal injury plaintiffs are not entitled to full recovery of medical bills if their insurers paid only a smaller, negotiated amount,” according to reporter Kate Moser of The Recorder (full access to her story is limited to subscribers only).

New Operator Takes Over Nursing Homes After $62 Million Settlement

By JG Preston

Skilled Healthcare, owners of one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, has leased out the operation of its five facilities in Humboldt County, Calif., after a jury there returned a $677 million verdict against it for failing to meet legally-required minimum staffing levels at those facilities and 17 others in California.

University of Phoenix Faces More Charges of Illegal Incentive Pay For Recruiters

By J.G. Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

In 2004 the University of Phoenix agreed to a $9.8 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Education, after the department found that the school has “systematically” and “intentionally” broken federal rules against paying recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled–basically, on a commission basis.

Those rules exist for a very good reason. Recruiters who increase their income each time they sign up a student are motivated to enroll students who are unqualified to do the academic work or unlikely to find paying work in the field if they do manage to graduate. Those students then take out federal or state student loans to pay for school, thus often leaving them without a meaningful education and in debt. And the students aren’t the only losers; since those students are more likely to default on their loans, taxpayers often get stuck with the tab.

Pursuit of Profit Leads To Increase in Infections in Nursing Home Residents

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

An understaffed nursing home can be hazardous to your health if you’re a resident there. The latest evidence comes from a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh‘s Graduate School of Public Health, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC).

The study found “a strong correlation between low staffing levels and the receipt of an infection control deficiency citation” at nursing homes, according to a news release from the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, publisher of APIC. And infections are the leading cause of death in nursing homes, according to the release, responsible for nearly 400,000 deaths per year.

Reducing Malpractice Payouts, Not by Capping Damage Awards, But By Reducing Malpractice

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

Don’t forget: at the heart of the medical malpractice issue is medical malpractice. The goal of reducing the amount of money paid to people who have been injured by malpractice is a laudable one, but the object shouldn’t be just to increase insurance company profits.

It turns out limiting damage awards to injured patients (or their survivors) isn’t the only way to reduce payouts; it’s certainly not the best one, since it’s patently unfair to, among others, children, the elderly, stay-at-home parents and people with low-to-moderate incomes. But a surefire way to reduce the amount of money paid to malpractice victims is to reduce the amount of malpractice.