Predatory Lawsuits

I’ve been disgusted with the power of the litigation industry since President Bill Clinton vetoed a law that would have addressed frivolous medical lawsuits. The veto came, as I recall, after it was passed by the House and the Senate. Fast forward to today and consider the number of ads on television asking for people to sign up for money available because of “medical malpractice.”

My disgust was reinforced by a Denver Post editorial titled, “Predatory lawsuits only hurt ADA compliance.” There has been a profitable litigation industry that has evolved from the laws that were passed to protect the rights of disabled citizens. There are several examples given in the editorial of people who have, with legal help, profited from the ADA legislation. One is a person named in the article who has succeeded at getting out of court settlements for 64 lawsuits against small businesses who weren’t given the chance to make corrections to the violations before being required to pay. Others have found this to be a lucrative process. A Floridian who travels to Colorado has filed 71 lawsuits. There are other examples of people who have successfully filed lawsuits based on the law. They often do not even need to pay filing fees for their lawsuits “because of their income level.” Apparently income from out of court settlements doesn’t count as “income.”

Our legislators seem to be eager to pass regulations that protect “fairness.” Perhaps they can find time to pass something that protects small business owners from predators who are interested in financial gain and not the protection of disabled customers.

Drug Litigation and Tort Reform

The title of this posting represents a dilemma for the country, and I credit John Grisham’s book “The Litigator” (reviewed on this web site) with the idea for this posting. New drugs have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after exhaustive testing, but there is no “safe” drug. Every pill anyone pops has side effects, regardless of whether it is aspirin or something used to combat pain, depression, cholesterol, or disease. People want relief from their ailments, and look to the big drug companies to provide that in the form of pills. People with loved ones who have uncommon diseases want the drug companies to spend the billions of dollars required to research possible cures. Lurking in the wings are the law firms specializing in suing drug companies after some people take their pills and suffer ill effects. The ill effects don’t even have to be associated with the pills to make the lawyers looking for cases happy. Apparently the FDA that approved the drug has no liability.

Anyone with a television understands the magnitude of the problem. Television ads are continually searching for people who willing to join a claim about a “bad drug” or a dangerous substance, such as asbestos. I’ve known that “Doug” has meothelioma for months or years now.

Tort reform is a one way of controlling the problem, but a couple of presidents have stood in the way. President Clinton vetoed legislation that had been carefully crafted to control frivolous lawsuits while allowing legitimate claimants their day in court and compensation. When a senator was asked why the bill was vetoed, the three words that were used to explain were, “The trial lawyers.”

Another president who avoided the wrath of trial lawyers was Mr. Obabma. He and his supporters in the legislature emphasized that the reason for “Obamacare” was to control escalating medical costs. One of the most obvious causes of escalating medical costs was and is the cost of litigation and costs of insurance for pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals. The final bill had nothing about tort reform despite the effort of some legislators to include language to address the problem. As to why this was so, once again, “The trial lawyers.”