Martelle, Scott


Scott Martelle is a veteran journalist, including 12 years at the Los Angeles Times. He currently writes for Protect Consumer Justice, a project of Civil Justice Research & Education Project. The site’s goal is to honestly report on consumer, legal and political issues important to the American civil justice system.

The Face of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA)

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

It’s hard to say what brings tears to Kathy Olsen’s eyes faster – talking about her son’s past, or the young man’s future.

Steven Olsen was a mischievous two year-old in 1992, the kind of kid happy to lead his 3-year-old sister into trouble on a regular basis. His response when mom put up a gate to keep the kids from climbing the stairs? No problem – Steven would turn a laundry basket into a step; up and over they’d go. And when dad blocked off the ladder to the backyard slide? Steven turned a tricycle into a step stool.

“He figured this all out,” she says. “He was really quite intelligent.”

Prop. 8 Ruling A Threat To American Democracy? Um, No.

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

Wrong.

That’s the short response to a column over on Capitol Weekly that raises the specter of a “constitutional coup” by advocates of gay marriage, one of the odder pieces I’ve read about California’s Proposition 8, the legal challenge against it and U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that it is unconstitutional.

The gist of the column by Mathew McReynolds, staff attorney for the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, is that the Prop. 8 ruling is bad because it means supporters of gay marriage will be able to sue their opponents into oblivion if they don’t recognize gay marriage rights.

AstraZeneca Pays $198 Million to Settle Claims – But Documents Stay Secret

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

Patients have been complaining for years that AstraZeneca’s Seroquel drug, prescribed to help control schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had serious and unacknowledged side effects, such as  causing diabetes. The London-based firm has settled more than half of the complaints, including this announcement Monday that it was paying $198 million to settle 17,500 of the remaining 26,100 claims.

The money really is just a drop in the bucket for AstraZeneca, which took in $3.6 billion in 2007 from American Seroquel sales. And it said the settlement wouldn’t affect its dividend payout, an announcement that strikes me as an inadvertent statement about its corporate priorities — profit over patients’ health.

Judge, Citing Fraud, Throws Out $2.3 Million Dole Verdict

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

This is one of the weirder cases bouncing through the courts, and it tracks like a John Grisham novel.

California 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Victoria G. Chaney on Thursday threw out a $2.3 million jury verdict against Dole over its use of a pesticide in Nicaragua, filed by workers who said they had suffered sterility and other health issues. The pesticide, DBCP, has been banned in the U.S. but Dole allegedly continued using it in Nicaragua.

Butler Wins, Salas Too Close to Call

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

We’ve been watching the hundreds of thousands of dollars that corporate interests have been pouring into two legislative races, and while we would have hoped for a more sharply drawn repudiation by voters, this is still pretty satisfying. Betsy Butler managed to prevail against a river of cash in the 53rd Assembly District Democratic primary (which drew eight candidates), and Mary Salas is holding a narrow 300-vote lead in the 50th Senate District Democratic primary.

How BP Limits What You Learn, and What You Know

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

We linked yesterday elsewhere on this site to an item by ABC News about BP buying Google search words to steer Internet browsers past news articles about the Gulf Oil disaster. But that’s only the latest wrinkle in what appears to be a campaign by the oil giant to control coverage of the disaster.

Individually, these steps are grotesque. Together, they stand as a callous display of corporate arrogance — with the help of U.S. government officials.

Mercury Insurance Drops $10 Million on Prop. 17 Shell Game

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

One of the oddities of California politics is the way different factions use the initiative process to try to sneak into law programs and policies that, given full attention and airing, would die an inglorious death. Add Proposition 17, the bizarrely named “Allows Auto Insurance Companies to Base Their Prices in Part on a Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage,” to the list of propositions-as-shell games.