Lawsuit Mania-This Week’s Meeting (9/24/9)

“Is There a Morality Issue in America’s Proclivity to Sue?” Linda’s idea. She says that, as a defense attorney, people come to her all the time wanting help filing silly lawsuits. We’re going to try to go without an opening presentation this time, just to give us all a break on a hot night. I know little about this topic, but here are a few angles we could discuss.

1. How big a problem is this and for whom? Who is our overly-litigious society hurting the most: Small businesses? Medical providers? All of us, through higher insurance premiums and other costs? Who is it helping (besides the lawyers): legit victims of corporate malfeasance, rich plaintiffs and giant companies that can afford the legal costs, nobody?

2. How did we get this way? And, don’t just say, ‘because we have too many lawyers.” Demand creates supply. Why are we so lawsuit crazy? Is it really some unique American moral failing, maybe based on our Get Rich Quick ethos? Or, could it be just our clumsy substitute for regulation in our more laissez faire economic system? Discuss.

3. Speaking of morality, how could this problem be solved in a moral way? Remember, tort = harm. How do we separate frivolous lawsuits from legitimate ones that redress real harm and deter future harm? How moral would it be just to shut off citizens’ access to the legal system when they are harmed by corporations or others and replace it with nothing? .

For my part, I’ll try to research tort reform at the state level a little. As I said when we talked about health care, about 20 states have reformed–i.e., sharply limited–personal injury lawsuits (at least in medicine) in the last few years. I think results are real mixed, but I’ll try to find out more.

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