Monday, August 22, 2005

A fable of the courts

scales of justice?A fascinating post at Wampum makes the case that the crisis need for tort reform is based purely on propaganda -- that the "classic cases" that are cited as examples of courts or juries gone wild are frequently fabrications, and that much of the reason for what frivolous cases do occur is the public misperception that civil suits are pretty much a lottery in which real damage has little to do with the awards (a perception perpetrated by the tort reformers). In fact, there is no evidence that lawsuit frequency or size of awards are increasing at all!
The tort reform lobby is quite willing to accept an increase in trivial suits if they can create a political climate that allows them to limit the exposure of businesses and insurance companies on the really bad cases. Perhaps the media should expose that game. It would not even have to make stuff up.
Given how much play this gets in certain political circles, we need to stop buying it hook, line, and sinker. In those rare cases when victims really need redress, it should be available, and sky-falling hysteria could make that impossible. Read the whole thing, really.

[Also catch this amusing quick follow-up question.]

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