Packevicz died at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, two hours into a liver transplant operation. The death of Packevicz, a 58-year-old mother of seven, was preceded by a long battle with her HMO, which had refused to pay for the operation. The HMO reversed its decision after lawyers sued, but the operation came too late.
"We want HMOs to think twice before they inappropriately deny care to someone with a life-threatening condition," Gene Anderson, founding partner of Anderson Kill & Olick, said in a statement. Referring to pleadings and legal research in the case that the New York City law firm has posted online, Anderson added: "We hope many attorneys will use this to stop HMOs from doing this again."
Anderson Kill's legal offerings appear to be the first to include a "pleadings generator" that allows attorneys to use a mail merge feature within Word Perfect to streamline their individual cases. The feature allows specific information, such as the parties' names, to be inserted automatically into the brief.
The Web site comes as more and more sites are providing attorneys and the public with specialized legal information. Stanford University's Securities Classaction Clearinghouse, for example, catalogs information about hundreds of shareholder lawsuits filed across the country. Companies embroiled in litigation often post legal briefs and court decisions on their Web sites.
Nicole Wong, an attorney at Perkins Coie, said resource sites allow lawyers to come up to speed on specialized areas of the law quickly.
"If you're new to an area of law, it's a great place to start," said Wong, whose firm follows Net litigation through its own Internet Case Digest. "In a big sense, [online legal resources] mean the lawyers are now able to share information on a much broader scale."
Peter Krakaur, founder of the legal portal site FindLaw, agrees, but warns that Webmasters need to think carefully before posting legal materials online.
"I strongly believe in self-help legal resources," Krakaur said. Still, "I would be concerned about having a case where any consumer could come online and essentially manage their case without the input of a lawyer."
Anderson Kill's Web site appears to be mindful of such ethical considerations, requiring readers to agree that the documents "are designed to be used by licensed attorneys only" before the material can be accessed. Like most other online legal resources, the site also offers a disclaimer warning that the documents are not a substitute for legal advice.