Tag Archives: Tort Reform

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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The Worst Lawsuit Defenses of 2012

My workload has been heavy lately, as has life in general, so I figured it was time for a diversion. It’s the end of the year, and thus unfortunately almost time for more deceptive “most frivolous lawsuits” lists, so here’s a retrospective of the worst lawsuit defenses I recall from 2012, a retrospective on the evils of water-soluble chalk, the violent propensities of classic Kung Fu movie fans, and the layman’s understanding of how a penile implant should work.   (5) Artist Drawing On Sidewalk With Chalk Deserved To Be Handcuffed, Arrested And Prosecuted For “Blocking Pedestrian Traffic”   One ... Continue Reading

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Fungal Meningitis In Steroid Shots And The Power of Incentives

The human body is both a marvel of engineering capable of jamming decades of memories and the programming to run a 100 trillion cell body into a brain the size of a football, and a slipshod jury rig. Ever since Hippocrates (“the father of spine surgery”) prescribed the first treatments for back problems — various combinations of baths, massages, and hanging upside down, all in all not too different from today — humanity has been dealing with chronic back pain. Even apart from classic deformities like kyphosis and scoliosis or a traumatic injury, the human back is just plain prone ... Continue Reading

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WSJ Clueless About Philadelphia Mass Torts Lawsuits

Just in time for Mesothelioma Awareness Day (which is tomorrow), yesterday the Wall Street Journal recycled the same canned attack on the Philadelphia Complex Litigation Center that the Chamber of Commerce and other special interests have been pushing for some time. (See here and here for more about the attacks on Philadelphia’s courts.)   Ashby Jones at the Wall Street Journal retreads over Judge Pamela Dembe’s remarks about out-of-state plaintiffs from early 2009, taking the Chamber of Commerce’s bait hook, line and sinker: When the Philadelphia court system faced budget cuts in early 2009, an influential judge there invited plaintiffs ... Continue Reading

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Concern Trolling Over Class Action Fees (Egg Purchaser Antitrust Edition)

“Let your greatest cunning lie in covering up what looks like cunning,” said Baltasar Gracián, the 17th Century Jesuit priest who wrote about how to survive in a post-Machiavelli world. These days, when tort reformers aren’t busy trying to stack the decks against consumers and injured people, they’re busy concern trolling, claiming to be looking out for the little guy while really waging war against the lawyers who take the risks and put in the time to make things right for the folks injured and cheated by corporate greed.   Via Overlawyered, Daniel Fisher at Forbes — who as far as I ... Continue Reading

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Chamber Of Commerce Study: Big Business Says Tort Reform Not Needed

Yesterday, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform released its “2012 State Liability Systems Ranking Study,” which asked lawyers and senior executives at companies with over $100 million in annual revenues what they thought about being sued. That’s like asking Yankees fans what they think about the Red Sox.   Seriously, here’s the “Methodology” for the Chamber of Commerce’s “study:” The final results are based on interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,125 in-house general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives who are knowledgeable about litigation matters at public and private companies with annual revenues of ... Continue Reading

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