Lis on Law: Questions Answered!

This week's Lis on Law takes a new twist: Lis answers your questions!

My inbox has been FLOODED with questions from viewers! I'm going to try to answer as many as I can, so keep them coming! Remember to check my column archive to find my latest blog!

— Lis Wiehl
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Drug-coated heart stents are a huge business and have been in the news for the past few years. My husband had the unfortunate experience of having a heart attack on Christmas Day. The cardiologist who was on-call decided to persist for two-and-a half hours and placed five stents. These devices cannot be removed and keep scarring over and forming blockages. We are TIED to the hospital now. Why were we put in this position by cardiologists who knew this would happen? This group also had him undergo 35 EECP treatments and when he was done ... one week later he had a heart attack. I contacted "CORDIS" and they said that they never did any safety studies with EECP and stented patients. What is the legality of off-label intervention? — Faith, a loving wife of a Vietnam Vet

Answer: Dear Faith, First off, good luck to you and your husband ... it sounds like an absolute nightmare. The short answer to your question is that not enough is known about the effects of off-label use of heart stents to say they are the cause of post-operative complications. About 60 percent of drug-coated stents, which prop open clogged arteries, are off-label. Doctors are allowed to prescribe stents to off-label patients, but manufacturers are not allowed to encourage off-label use. Right now, a Congressional committee is looking into the "off label" use of drugs and heart stents, examining the widespread practice in which doctors prescribe medical products to patients outside the boundaries approved by the Food and Drug Administration. For more information, click here. Best, Lis

I have seen you go toe-to-toe with Marc Rudov a couple of times now. I am not sure if you know his background, but I would be more than happy to equip you with you some knowledge so you will know whom you are dealing with. — Tru

Answer: Dear Tru, I'd be happy to have you send me more information … although even without it, I have a pretty good idea of what I'm dealing with (smile.) Best, Lis

I was taken aback by the chauvinistic arrogance of the man who appeared with you on Neil Cavuto’s program today. He threw a lot of “facts” out in an attempt to counter your personal experiences regarding inequality in pay between the genders without anyone having the ability to check his “facts.” When he said that women don’t build bridges, I knew he was grossly in error as I’ve seen a documentary on the Brooklyn Bridge on another channel and knew that a woman had played a significant roll in its engineering and construction. Here is a quote from a history of the bridge that I found, easily:

“Fires, explosions and caisson disease (caused by changes in air pressure that affect nitrogen levels in the bloodstream) took the lives of 20 men, and left Washington Roebling himself paralyzed. Thereafter, the younger Roebling, with the extraordinary assistance of his wife Emily, directed the construction of the bridge from his Brooklyn residence. With her husband's assistance, Emily Roebling studied higher mathematics and bridge engineering, and soon made daily visits to the bridge to oversee her husband's staff of engineers and builders.”

This took place in the 1800s, and I doubt this woman received a penny for her contribution. I’m sure this example is only the tip of the iceberg in a long line of women who perform “men’s jobs” seamlessly. I believe that pay should be geared for the job, not the gender of the person holding the position. — Kevin (Dover, NH)

Answer: Dear Kevin, Thanks for the terrific research! Ms. Roebling was a true pioneer. Best, Lis

As a 43-year-old female who had my first job at age 13, started college at 16 (graduated at 20) and later went back to school for a Master of Science degree, I am just one of millions of women who have struggled for years to make ends meet due to gender discrepancies in both job opportunities and salary. This has never been about IQ, ability or dedication to the job ... it is a pervasive gender bias issue.

I was floored by the comments made by Mark (the man offering the counter point to your views on Cavuto's feature on April 24, 2007). Does he REALLY believe what he is saying? From under what rock did he crawl? When he scoffed and dismissed the recounting of your personal experience, I wanted to scream. When he said a woman should just quit her job if she isn't getting paid equally, he sounded like a total idiot. When he stated women don't build ships or do "men's" jobs, I just lost it. Please know I respect the fact that you held your cool as well as you did. I would not have been so composed. I just wonder how many men think the way Mark does and aren't stupid enough to say it out loud. UGH! Thanks for representing the working woman. — Moira (Florida)

Answer: Moira, my pleasure! Best, Lis

I saw you on FOX discussing the recent study on the perceived women's pay inequity versus men. I just wanted to drop you this note to get you to think about some factors that could have made the study's conclusion incorrect, as it was conducted.

The guest you were debating stated two of them and it appeared that because of your emotional attachment to the issue and personal history you were unable to address directly his comments. Anyway, here are three things to consider that are not covered in the study:

1. The study looked at all job categories and compared men and women in them. The guest correctly pointed this out, but you brushed it aside when he said that men build bridges and women don't, and that women are dental hygienists and secretaries and men are not. I think you knew what he was saying, but for some reason you tried to look stunned. He was saying that the vast majority of bridge builders are men, not every single one and the vast majority of secretaries are women, not every single one. When you take the average of those two jobs, it is clear that bridge builders make more money than secretaries; so by definition men are going to come out ahead without sexism entering into the decision process. That is, if you have nine men and one woman bridge builder making $100K and nine women and one male secretary making $30K, the average woman's salary is $37K while the average man's salary is $93K. Notice this has nothing to do with gender bias.

2. There are differences in pay between men and women, between men, and between women in any job category in any company. That is, people at the same level in a company are usually paid within a band and that means there are some men who make more than some women and some women who make more than men. The difference could be due more to the negotiating capability of the individual, productivity and demeanor of the individual, and a host of other factors and potentially not gender. So simply because there is a difference is not de facto evidence of discrimination. — Chris (Chicago, IL)

Answer: Dear Chris, I am comparing apples to apples/oranges to oranges. For example, a survey of pubic relations professionals showed that women with less than five years of experience make $29,726, while their male counterparts earn $48,162. A study of women in the telecommunications industry showed that among video programmers, women with advanced degrees earn 64.6 percent of the salary of their male colleagues, and women with college degrees earn 80 percent. Women attorneys earn nearly $375 per week less than male attorneys, women doctors earn nearly $680 per week less than male doctors, women professors earn $245 per week less than male professors, and women schoolteachers earn $86 per week less than male teachers. And if we take pregnancy out of the equation, as you suggest, we are admitting that it is a "disability" as it is now labeled under the law ... to me it is a SUPERABILITY. — Best, Lis

Another Response to last week’s Winkler question:
Unfortunately the law has not kept up with the computer industry. Let me first state that there are no pictures on any computer anywhere in the world. Computers hold data streams. People cannot see these data streams anymore than they can see DNA samples. There are no pictures of which to take pictures. Secondly, in this case, the computer itself is largely irrelevant — only the hard drive holds the evidence. The rest of the computer can be tossed and replaced as long as the chain of custody remains for the hard drive. Thirdly, duplicates of a data stream are not like duplicates of a copy machine. Making an image of a data stream under the proper chain of custody does not create a copy. It creates another existence of the data stream itself. It is testably and provably the original fact. Copies are degraded by duplication. Data streams do not change under imaging. The law has not kept up with technology and new understanding.

Now to the case at hand: Since data streams may be imaged without loss of fact the judge has no basis for denying admittance of evidence in this case. Rather what must be agreed upon is how the data stream shall be rendered. It can be rendered as sight, sound, touch, or many other ways. Significantly in this case it is established that the data stream was stored in a manner to be rendered as a picture. This is likely to be an assumption based upon the rendering appearing as something meaningful. Now we just need to agree whether we want the data stream rendered as a picture on paper or screen.

This is a question for law school indeed. It's just a deeper question than most people are prepared for even in our "computerized" age. Judges and attorneys are not prepared for computer technology. — Wayne

Answer: Dear Wayne, You and Tom need to start a law school exam business ... excellent! — Lis

My ex-husband has opened up a "poker house" (a room, I am sure) in the back of a business establishment. Isn't gambling illegal in the state of Texas? The last thing I want is to see him arrested in a raid or anything, for my son's sake. How should I counsel him? — Cece

Answer: Dear Cece, I am worried for your husband ... here's why: According to Texas law, a person who "plays and bets for money or other thing of value at any game played with cards, dice, balls, or any other gambling device is guilty of a class C misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500." And, if that's not warning enough, a person commits an offense if he "knowingly uses or permits another to use as a gambling place any real estate, building, room, tent, vehicle, boat, or other property whatsoever owned by him or under his control, or rents or lets any such property" is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by a "fine not to exceed $4,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year, or both. [Chapters 47 and 112 of the Texas Code] — Lis

Some years back when numerous lawsuits were being brought against gun manufacturers for no valid reason, except that some law firms hoped to bankrupt the gun makers, I located and spoke with a constitutional lawyer in Philadelphia regarding this.

My contention was that as the lawsuits were being brought, the manufacturers were forced to raise the cost of their products. Therefore I, as a consumer of their products, was forced to pay higher costs. With nearly all of the lawsuits having been tossed out by the courts (a correct decision in my opinion), the result of their frivolous lawsuits was a form of restraint of trade.

The attorney in Philadelphia suggested that I probably had a valid cause to bring a suit against the various City's and law firms involved. I estimated that the class action should be in the neighborhood of $4 trillion (80 million gun owners and an estimation of $50 per gun cost increase). The lawyer wondered if that would be high enough. She, the lawyer, said that the courts were tossing the law suits out left and right and that the time required and the costs (I have no money) would be huge, so she didn't want to pursue it. I can not find her now.

Okay, enough history. The NYC Mayor Bloomberg suing gun dealers left and right as far as a half dozen states away from NYC because he is unable to control the crime in his own city and needs to blame everyone else for his failures. Shouldn't all those gun owners within the slimy reach of this billionaire megalomaniac be protected from him by filing a class action lawsuit similar to the one I envisioned? While the lawsuit amount could be adjusted, a little bit, how do you go about doing that?

Are you interested? — Rich (Grants Pass, OR)

Answer: Dear Rich, If you want to pursue a class action suit you will have to find other people who have launched or are launching similar suits. Your class would have to prove that previous lawsuits were the reason behind the increase in gun prices, as opposed to increases in labor and material cost, and the effects of foreign competition. But beware that in 2005 Congress passed into law the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (Public Law 109-92.) which effectively prevents firearm manufacturers from being held liable for crimes committed with their products, thus eliminating many of the legal grounds for many of these previous lawsuits you mention. — Lis

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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.