December 20, 2008
It's no secret that America's public schools, health care system, and lawsuit industry -- among other institutions -- are broken. After decades of alarming reports and reform efforts, they still cost far more, and with worse results, than those of almost all other developed countries. And President-elect Obama's hope of changing things dramatically for the better faces an uphill battle.
May 17, 2008
Now and then events converge to remind us of how often plaintiffs' lawyers pervert our lawsuit industry for personal and political gain, under the indulgent eyes of judges, without rectifying any injustices, at the expense of the rest of us.
We have recently witnessed the spectacle of three of the nation's richest and most famous plaintiffs' lawyers heading to federal prison for various criminal...
January 29, 2005
"Tort reform" is a dreary phrase for what could be a noble and exciting endeavor. It could be about fixing our system of justice so that more victims maimed by reckless conduct will get the compensation they need, when they need it; so that fewer good doctors and good companies will get soaked for misfortunes that weren't their fault; so that the insurance premiums and prices we all pay...
January 3, 2004
"Asbestos litigation has become a malignant enterprise which mostly consists of a massive client-recruitment effort that accounts for as much as 90 percent of all claims currently being generated, supported by baseless medical evidence which is not generated by good-faith medical practice, but rather is primarily a function of the compensation paid, and by claimant testimony scripted by...
December 15, 2003
The Rev. Ron Singleton's door is always open. That way, when the Methodist minister of a small congregation in Inman, S.C., is counseling a parishioner, his secretary across the hall is a witness in case Singleton is accused of inappropriate behavior. (When his secretary is not around, the reverend does his counseling at the local Burger King.) Singleton has a policy of no hugging from the front...
February 15, 2003
As tort reformers and trial lawyers resume their arcane battles, the costs of and damage done by our burgeoning lawsuit industry are mounting up, all around us. The total dollar amount awarded in the 100 largest jury verdicts in 2002 was more than three times the 2001 total, reports The National Law Journal. The direct costs to society from the tort liability system jumped by an inflation-...
September 28, 2002
Two recent developments dramatize how lawyer-plutocrats continue to obscenely enrich themselves by using massive asbestos lawsuits and a disgracefully dysfunctional litigation system to extort billions of dollars from American consumers every year. The lawyers blackmail mostly blameless companies, while cheating the real victims of asbestos.
February 9, 2002
Teachers in Michigan's public schools are prohibited by law from patting students on the back, lest someone shout "sexual harassment." But it is almost impossible to get an incompetent teacher, or a disruptive child, out of the classroom anywhere in the country. Bristol, Conn., like other towns, has removed the seesaws and merry-go-rounds from its playgrounds. Some kids find the new,...
January 5, 2002
It was obvious to almost everybody after the twin towers came down that the foreseeable plague of lawsuits against the airline industry and the owners of the destroyed World Trade Center-as well as its architects, engineers, builders, insulation suppliers, and every other solvent company that had anything to do with the place, not to mention Boeing Co. and the City of New York-would be a...
June 2, 2001
Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, some current professional golfers, the PGA, and Washington Post sportswriter Sally Jenkins say that walking a golf course, and thus conquering fatigue, is an essential part of PGA Tour competition. Disabled golfer Casey Martin, many other pros, and New York Times sportswriter Dave Anderson say otherwise.
May 5, 2001
A 5-4 Supreme Court decision on April 24 left standing a silly Alabama policy that makes life unnecessarily difficult for some foreign-born Americans by requiring that they take their driver's license exam in English. More important, the Court's decision made it harder for many other potential plaintiffs to sue for possible violations of a key provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars...
March 4, 1996
Stung by growing interest in an intriguing proposal for curbing contingent fees on early offers of settlement, the personal injury bar and other lawyers have mounted a ferocious counterattack with the approach of California's March 26 primary election (when the proposal will be on the ballot).
A lot of their arguments have been so crude as to evidence both "the transparent self-...
January 29, 1996
Dear Fellow Attorney,
On March 26, 1996, your future as a lawyer will be at stake! There will be two initiatives on the [California] ballot that will end the tort system as you know it. If passed, they will affect all tort cases and eliminate virtually all cases involving motor vehicles. They are the pure NO FAULT AUTO INSURANCE ACT and the LAWYER CONTINGENT FEE UMYTATION ACT.
... No one will...
February 13, 1995
Republican rule on Capitol Hill has put new wind in the sails of some dubious proposals for striking at the very real problem of wasteful and abusive litigation tactics.
"Reforms" like the English "loser pays" rule and numerical caps on damages, which are in the House Republicans' Contract With America, would surely stop some unwarranted suits, but they would also thwart many...
September 7, 1992
What do former CIA official Clair George, the four Los Angeles cops who beat up Rodney King, Clark Clifford, his co-defendant Robert Altman, and E. Robert Wallach have in common?
Each is threatened with multiple criminal trials on essentially the same charges. That may be legal, under various judge-made loopholes in the double-jeopardy clause. But it's not fair. And it illustrates pervasive...
June 15, 1992
Imagine a big, big case in which prosecutors in the proudest U.S. attorney's office in the land are presented in midtrial with strong evidence of perjury by their star witness.
Imagine the witness then privately admitting to the prosecutors that he has just told a false cover story and offering them a revised story so preposterous that a child could see through it.
Imagine the prosecutors putting...
May 4, 1992
Judge Malcolm Wilkey, Retired "Special Counsel" c/o Attorney General William Barr Department of Justice Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Judge Wilkey:
By open letter of April 20, 1992, the Office of Special Journalist notified you of our self-appointment to investigate your investigation of the so-called House Bank.
You are hereby notified that our grand jury (a rubber stamp, like yours) has...
April 20, 1992
Judge Malcolm Wilkey, Retired
c/o Attorney General William Barr
Department of Justice
Washington. D.C. 20530
Dear Judge Wilkey:
I have appointed myself "Special Journalist" to investigate your investigation into whether any crimes were committed by members of the House of Representatives in connection with the so-called House Bank.
This is your formal notice of...
April 29, 1991
Some questions for you litigators out there:
The last time you were slogging through an all-day, multi-lawyered deposition of a reluctant witness, or preparing your own witness by walking him through hundreds of documents page by page, or fishing through 14 overflowing file cabinets for a probably non-existent smoking gun, or cranking dozens of boilerplate interrogatories through the word...