Just this morning, when my 17-year old client was asked, by the victim of a theft for $25,000 in restitution, ($16,000 of which was listed as "pain and suffering") the judge jokingly remarked that "well, if someone can see $50 million of some pants...). In short, the "Pants Case", which was properly decided in favor of the defendant last week, will probably be held up for years as an example of how the system is in need of more "reform" (less corporate responsibility) rather than an example of a system that worked exactly as it should. In fact, I wonder if the judge who brought the suit (as a lawyer, not a judge) will be sanctioned or forced to pay attorneys fees for bringing the suit. If he is, expect to read about it on page 10 of the local paper, rather than in the newspapers covering this story as litigation run amok.
But this op-ed, pointed out on the TLC listserve, from the Houston Chronicle got my attention. An excerpt:
Tort reformers want to ban most, if not all, of these lawsuits and they
claim that eliminating them would translate into lower prices for the
consumer. The reasoning suggests that without the penalties associated with
launching an unsafe drug, pharmaceutical companies would enjoy larger
profits and be able to manufacture cheaper aspirin.
The problem with this flawed approach is that it has no end. Without
lawyers, homebuilders could build less expensive homes and not worry about
being sued due to defects in craftsmanship. The price of a pack of
cigarettes would decline because companies would not be held accountable for
the proven medical costs associated with smoking. And our stores would be
stocked with an endless supply of cheap toys because companies could
eliminate "safety" from their list of priorities...
Not every lawsuit is justified, not every verdict is legitimate and not
every lawyer is perfect. Lawyers, like people in any other profession, make
mistakes, and some lawyers file frivolous lawsuits. But our system works
because judges and juries are usually smart enough to recognize these
lawsuits for what they are, and they not only find for the defendant, but
they also sanction the people responsible for bringing the case.
The next time you hear Ann Coulter call John Edwards a "Las Vegas shyster," ask yourself what motives Ann could have for turning public opinion further against lawyers who represent people instead of corporate interests.
What's in it for Ann if the people follow Dick the Butcher's advice to "first kill all the lawyers?" Why would Ann want you to focus on her critics' hair rather than on her own motivations?
Who's really looking out for you?