Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Press coverage uncovered," March 8, 2003

A bit of their own medicine

Julie McCammon says the greed of a wealthy group of individuals has caused her material harm, and she plans to sue those responsible. But don't expect trial lawyers to take up her cause-because they are her target. The Clarksburg, W.Va., doctor filed a legal complaint last month against the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, claiming that frivolous lawsuits against West Virginia physicians have forced up her annual malpractice insurance premiums from $22,000 in 1988 to $95,000 currently. She is seeking damages for stress and economic loss. William L. Frame, president of the association, responded by what trial lawyers in other cases would call "blaming the victim": He said doctors are the problem and that reform should "begin with the medical community policing these bad doctors and making our health care facilities safe." Dr. McCammon's legal complaint is the first step toward a lawsuit. She is representing herself.

Back to basics

At a time when universities are downplaying Shakespeare, Oprah Winfrey may start promoting him. The talk-show superstar announced last week that she is restarting her book club with the tentative title, Traveling with the Classics. (Ms. Winfrey will host shows from the settings of the classic works that she discusses.) Her previous book club was a huge success, propelling 48 titles to the bestseller lists. But she grew tired, she said last April, of contemporary books: "It has become harder to find books on a monthly basis that I feel absolutely compelled to share."

Gay marriage loophole?

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Do the Kantaras children have two mommies? Florida Circuit Judge Gerard O'Brien says no, although their "dad" is a female-to-male transsexual. Michael Kantaras, who was born as Margo in 1959, had a sex-change operation three years before marrying their mother. Last week Judge O'Brien awarded custody of the two Kantaras children to Michael instead of their mother, Linda Kantaras. Lawyers for Linda Kantaras had argued that Michael was not legally recognized as a man when they were married in 1989. The marriage was invalid, they said, because Florida bans homosexual marriage and adoption. Therefore, the two children-Linda's son (adopted by Michael) and a daughter she conceived through artificial insemination-belonged with their mother. Judge O'Brien disagreed, ruling that the law doesn't require marriage license applicants to "prove their gender." He granted Linda "liberal visitation rights."

Man knows not his time

Rev. Edward Victor "E.V." Hill, one of America's greatest preachers of the last 50 years and long-time pastor of 2,000-member Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles, died of pneumonia and complications on Feb. 24. He was 69. Rev. Hill was one of the most sought-after preachers at many major evangelical events over the years. His thunderous sermon on the power of Jesus to change lives brought tens of thousands of cheering young people to their feet at Campus Crusade's Explo 72 in the jam-packed Cotton Bowl in Dallas in 1972. Rising from poverty in Texas, Rev. Hill became a Houston pastor at age 21 and helped Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But he became a conservative Republican following his move in 1961 to Mt. Zion, where he established a variety of social outreach ministries. Evangelist Billy Graham introduced him to Richard Nixon, and he prayed at Mr. Nixon's second inauguration in the middle of Watergate. (Rev. Hill was known for ministering to disgraced preachers and other leaders.) He led several clergy committees supporting Ronald Reagan. President George H.W. Bush visited his church in 1992 immediately following the Los Angeles riots.

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