Saturday, April 26, 2008
Institute for legal reform: calls to end lawsuit abuse
CNN has been running ads from the Institute of Legal Reform, link here (affiliated with the United States Department of Commerce.) The site bears careful study, with its ranking of the legal climates in various states (Delaware – “the Blue Hen State” -- is the best, West Virginia is the worst, and California is pretty far down), and its explanation of the factors that went into the rankings. The site has links to many examples of “give me a break” frivolous lawsuits. One link concerns removal of playgrounds and recess areas for children (and essential to provide physical fitness and counter the epidemic of childhood obesity) because of fear of litigation, here. A Seattle station (King5) reports about a bizarre story of a suit for leaving “neutral feedback” for a business transaction on Ebay, a complaint that makes no common sense (story by Jesse Jones, here). In another case, a business offering sports activities for kids was forced to close because it couldn’t afford to defend itself against a frivolous suit for not offering proper handicapped access for an event (story), when it claimed it complied with ADA laws. Of course, the Washington DC “drycleaners’” lawsuit fiasco is well known; despite the fact that the defendants won, the expense forced them to close much of their business.
There are many other websites advocating tort reform: “Power of Attorneys” has a “Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse” link, here.
There is also “Americans for Legal Reform” here.
Small Business Legal Reform: NFIB.
I think John Stossel has done some "give me a break" segments on this. Tort reform would seem to be an essential part of fixing economic problems, especially for small business and small employers. Why can't we adopt the European "loser pays"? A trial lawyer practices one of the most adversarial professions in the world.