Sunday, January 11, 2009

Minneapolis paper, using school systems as examples, argues for tort reform

The Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday June 11 has an editorial that sounds like a stron argument for tort reform. The piece is called “Life: A lawsuit waiting to happen. In America, people used to defend their rights: Now they use them as a weapon”. The link is here. The piece, and comments that follow, are full of anecdotes where people shut things down out of fear, or don’t disclose information properly out of fear. The problem is particularly gratuitous with school systems, who shut down programs out of fear of suits.

John Stossel has covered this issue a few times in his ABC 20/20 “give me a break” column. Stossel has advocated the European system of "loser pays." Libertarians have been mixed on tort reform, as the principle of torts is essential to the idea of "freedom of contract" and property rights, but in practice torts are a tool for abuse, particularly of larger interests (even unions) to harass smaller and more efficient competitors out of business. In Washington DC we have had a particularly egregious abusive lawsuit brought by a former judge against a small drycleaning business.

I can imagine another editorial all to easily on how we might need tort reform to save the Internet some day.

Another good related topic for a succeeding editorial would be “libel tourism.”

I lived in Minneapolis, right downtown, from 1997-2003. They were some of the best years of my life. As I recall, Jesse Ventura, independent governor from 1999-2003, advocated tort reform.

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