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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Quota System Failure

"Frye said he has never awarded benefits just to clear a case faster, and he couldn't name any judges who have."

The quote is from an Associated Press story this month. The person quoted is Randall Frye, president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges and a judge in Charlotte, N.C.

This sounds like a commendable thing to say. It's nice to know that judges decide cases on their merits.

Have you read the story yet?

It's about a federal lawsuit in Chicago, Association of Administrative Law Judges v. Colvin, which claims that "some ALJs" are awarding disability payments because it's "easier and less time-intensive."

It's always unnamed people who get the blame.

Apparently the ALJ has filed suit on behalf of judges they don't know about. Mr. Frye's deposition is going to be a lot of fun.

Plaintiff coyness aside, there are some interesting (and important) things in this complaint.

For example, "The United States Supreme Court has recognized that the SSA [Social Security Administration] disability hearing system is 'probably the largest adjudicative agency in the world.'"


There's no source cited for this declaration in the complaint. Maybe it's common knowledge. But why would the Supreme Court recognize a probability? Did they do this in a ruling, or were they playing some guessing game over drinks?

What were the other possible largest adjudicators? My guess would be the international "Idol" competitions.

In case you're wondering, the plaintiff judges were complaining about being saddled with a burdensome caseload quota system that causes those unnamed guys to cut corners. Or if they don't throw the cases, they don't do them justice.

"For other ALJs, being rushed to judgment by the quota impedes their ability to render carefully reasoned, impartial decisions based on a fully developed factual record," according to the lawsuit.

I'm guessing there's some coin-flipping involved.

At this point, you may be wondering what the judges asked for in a lawsuit that begins with a description of how monstrous and clogged the disability claims adjudication system is.

They want an injunction against their case quota system.

So the judges can take more time with each case - and clog the system even more.

Just saying ...

Law Practice Tip: Consider vertical integration. It works for industry (if antitrust litigation isn't involved). It can work for your law practice.

This occurred to me the other day after spotting this in a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit: "... plaintiff mentioned to the cab driver that he had been involved in an accident. Upon hearing this, the cab driver enthusiastically recommended that plaintiff retain" the defendant law firm.

He got a free ride to the law office.

The defendant lawyer referred the plaintiff to doctors who worked with the lawyer.

One-stop shopping with a mobile sales force.

Some of you may want to think about recruiting bus drivers.

By the way, in case you're wondering what the lawsuit was about, it seems that one of the doctors may have committed malpractice and the lawyer who worked with him didn't want to sue on behalf of the client.

A tad of a conflict of interest.

Be sure to get really comprehensive malpractice insurance for your vertically integrated firm.

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