Tag Archives: Tort Reform

The Florida Bar Sued For Prohibiting Lawyers From Having Opinions

When I saw it, I had to double-check to see if it was a joke. The report said the Florida Bar  precluded a law firm from posting on its blog remarks like, “[the days] when we could trust big corporations … are over,” “Government regulation of … consumer safety has been lackadaisical at best,” and “when it comes to ‘tort reform’ there is a single winner: the insurance industry,” because such statements of opinion are not “objectively verifiable.” If that was the rule everywhere, then the ABA Journal’s list of top blawgs would be very dull indeed.   Could that ... Continue Reading

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Judge Kozinski Vs. The Proposed Federal Civil Procedure Amendments

If you don't think you can win fair and square, then change the rules. That’s been the modus operandi of the United States Chamber of Commerce (a private lobbying group with a misleading name) and the wealthy interests it represents, like the nation’s major insurance companies and product manufacturers. That's why there's been such a push for “tort reform” in the states over the past generation: because those same interests have realized that, in a fair court system, they will be held accountable for the full human and economic damage that they cause.   In the federal system, those wealthy ... Continue Reading

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“Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act” Aims To Make Litigation More Expensive

Late last week, when I heard that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act,” a certain Mark Twain quote came to mind: “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”   Currently, if a lawyer violates Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 (which prohibits, for example, filings presented for an improper purpose or which contain a false statement of fact), a Court may impose a sanction, including a monetary penalty. The “Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act” would change that to require monetary sanctions whenever a Court finds Rule ... Continue Reading

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Medical Malpractice Accountability Plummets, While Malpractice Epidemic Continues Unabated

I’ve written extensively about medical malpractice myths, including posts about defensive medicine, the realities of malpractice litigation (in which it’s more likely that a negligent doctor will evade responsibility than it is that an undeserving patient will be compensated), and the tricks played to deny injured patients their legal rights, like concealing evidence and intimidating expert witnesses. Just last month I wrote about the hard data on malpractice lawsuits in Pennsylvania.   Why so much focus on malpractice law? Because it seems to be the area of plaintiffs’ litigation most heavily shrouded with myths and misunderstandings. Just last month, one ... Continue Reading

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The Undeniable Fact Of A Pro-Big-Business Supreme Court

  Three years ago, Professor Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago was peddling falsehoods and misconceptions about malpractice law that wouldn’t pass a 1L Torts class. Via Walter Olson, I see he’s back with a piece titled, “The Myth of a Pro-Business SCOTUS,” claiming “Commentators inaccurately condemn the five conservative justices as corporate shills.” He specifically mentions articles by Erwin Chemerinsky, Adam Liptak, Arthur Miller (whose article I discussed previously) and the recent analysis by Lee Epstein, William Landes, and Richard Posner.   Epstein raises three complaints about attacks on the Roberts Court: “selection bias; misplaced significance; and failure ... Continue Reading

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The Reality of Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice

For years, I’ve written about the prevailing myths about medical malpractice law, from the falsehoods about defensive medicine to the extraordinary economic damage caused by malpractice itself. Contrary to what the insurance companies and hospital lobbying groups keep saying, “defensive medicine” is simply a myth (if a given test didn’t make a patient substantially safer, doctors wouldn’t gain anything by doing it). The damage caused by malpractice — even when measured in purely economic terms, ignoring the non-economic harms and losses — dwarfs the cost of the malpractice legal system, including all the lawyers and all the settlements and verdicts. ... Continue Reading

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Can The City Of Philadelphia Be Sued Over The Center City Building Collapse?

  Philly is still reeling from the horrific Center City building collapse last week. Every conversation I’ve had included both shock over the poor oversight of high-risk work like demolition and the conclusion that, surely, the City will be sued and will pay something towards the victims. Most everyone, including other lawyers who don’t do catastrophic injury work, are shocked to hear that it is unlikely that the City will be liable.   The primary cause of disaster is obvious: the work crew performed appallingly amateurish work. Taking down a building literally joined to other buildings isn’t rocket science, but ... Continue Reading

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Toot! Toot! All Aboard the Baloney Train!

Hardly a week goes by without an insurance company, a big corporation, or one of their lobbying groups complaining about "the cost of litigation," usually prefacing the word "cost" with hyperbolic adjectives like "soaring" or "exploding," with the implication that, somehow, injured plaintiffs or their lawyers are to blame. Yet, whenever we see an actual example of a party engaging in absurd tactics to make litigation more costly and difficult, it always turns out that the defendant or their insurance company is to blame.  Although trial is typically the most expensive part of any case, the vast majority of cases ... Continue Reading

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The Real Economic Impact of Product Liability Tort Reform

Via Overlawyered and TortsProf, I saw that a new law review article came out last week in the Vanderbilt Law Review, “Products Liability and Economic Activity: An Empirical Analysis of Tort Reform’s Impact on Businesses, Employment, and Production” by Joanna Shepherd. As a products-liability lawyer (and an armchair economist), I was excited, so I printed out a copy, sat down with my highlighter, and, unfortunately, didn’t even make it past the third page without gnashing my teeth in frustration:   Specifically, we know surprisingly little about whether products liability law suppresses economic activity, and which, if any, reforms might improve ... Continue Reading

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Why Civil Defendants Want To Be In Federal Court: Judicial Vacancies

Today the Supreme Court holds oral arguments in Standard Fire v. Knowles, a Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) case. According to the defendant, an insurance company, the case involves plaintiffs' attorneys “manipulating their complaints to evade federal diversity jurisdiction” by stipulating to the class recovering less than $5,000,000, the CAFA threshold that allows defendants to remove class actions from state court to federal court. According to the plaintiff, an Arkansas homeowner who alleges the insurance company routinely failed to pay for general contractors’ bills in home repairs, the issue here is just another example of the 70-year-old rule that a ... Continue Reading

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