In Lawsuits We Trust

Stick with me here: there’s good news towards the end of this.

Every year there are thousands upon thousands of lawsuits filed in the United States, with many of them being patently ridiculous. According to facesoflawsuitabuse.org, here are some of the most outrageous ones from 2011 alone:

•A kidnapped couple is sued by a convict who kidnapped them because they did not aid him in evading police.

•A mother is sued by her adult children because she sent cards that did not include gifts and because she allegedly plays favorites.

•A woman files a lawsuit asking for $5 million after she disagrees with a store over an 80 cent refund she was supposed to receive.

•A mother files a lawsuit against an exclusive preschool because of her child’s college prospects.

•A man sued Procter & Gamble over toothpaste left in the tube.

•A woman files a lawsuit because of a movie trailer that does not have enough driving in it. The trailer the movie was for? ‘Drive.’

The entire funny-yet-depressing list can be found here.

——————————

Now the truly troubling aspect of all this is that these companies had to defend themselves in court, usually racking up significant costs. Those costs get put right back into the price of their products, and we all end up paying more. Isn’t that great?

Why is nothing being done about this by our elected leaders? What about some ideas from the folks who always seem to be “fixing” everything, other than things which actually need fixing?

No more calls; we have a winner! An individual state did take a significant step towards curbing this insanity.

From tennessean.com:

Tennessee Republicans have a message for those filing civil lawsuits: You better make sure your facts are in order or you could be on the hook for up to $10,000 in attorney fees for the other side.

Lawmakers last week approved legislation that would penalize people who file lawsuits that are later dismissed as baseless. They would have to pay up to $10,000 to cover court costs and their opponent’s attorney fees.

“It is a very limited loser-pays bill,” said Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, the bill’s House sponsor. “It goes to purely frivolous lawsuits, lawsuits that don’t have any merit.”

I read that and got a little verklempt. It is possible to look at a problem and pass legislation that might help fix the problem! God bless those crazy, knuckle-dragging, bible-clinging GOP Tennesseans for bringing some common-sense to the courtrooms of America, or at least Tennessee. For the moment, that makes one significant problem addressed….

………and at least a million to go.

Hey, it’s a start.

10 responses to “In Lawsuits We Trust

  1. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. The journey of 1,000 miles and all that.

    Just a few comments:
    1) A recent favorite silly suit of mine that I didn’t see on the list was the class action against the makers of Nutella. Mmmmmmmm, Nutella. I love the stuff—so much so that I rarely buy it, because I will eat it right out of the jar with a spoon. I can’t say I ever considered it a health food, yet class members and the attorneys who brought their suit will divvy up $3.05 million because some dingbat thought it was. If you’ve bought a jar in the last five years, get in line.
    2) We have too many lawyers in this country already, but law schools just keep churning them out. “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” said a character in Shakespeare’s Henry VI. That may be a bit extreme, but how about maybe shutting down every law school in the country for say five years? You know, thin the herd a bit.
    3) In a similar vein, here’s a web site (tag line: “Brought to you by an overly litigious society!”) that aggregates silly warning labels from a variety of consumer products: http://www.dumbwarnings.com.
    4) Verklempt—I had to look that one up. It’s a gut vort!

    • justturnright

      I was raised in New England, and heard more than a little Yiddish.

      LOVED the Nutella story. Can’t belive we never bought any…!

      Lawyers are only a symptom of the problem. If our judicial system didn’t make it so painless to sue anybody at any time for anything, we wouldn’t have the problem.

      Sorta similar to our illegal immigration issue, when you think about it……

      • I guess you’re right about both the profusion of lawyers being a symptom and the comparison to illegal immigration.

        And I urge everyone to try Nutella. Just try not to confuse it with, say, broccoli.

        • justturnright

          If my wife serves broccoli for dinner, can I get away with eating Nutella instead?
          If so, I’m IN!!

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  3. We are living through a sad state of affairs. Most lawyers are reputable people, but there are always the 5% – 10% just like John Edwards who only think about victory and the check at the end of the case and completely blank out on the overall damage their actions have left behind. The courts need to consider a loser pays system to minimize frivolous lawsuits and push people to mitigate minor hurts among themselves. They also need to approach cases with the perspective that each side as equal pockets instead of looking for the traditional deep pocket to scapegoat.

    Sometimes, I seriously wonder if I wasted 20 years of my life working to protect knuckleheads away from my family for months at a time packed into submarines. I’m not sure if I’d do it all over again given back my youth and the opportunity to choose again.

    • justturnright

      I agree that the majority of lawyers are probably decent folks. The problem seems (at least to me) to be the lack of risk on the part of the claimant. Many lawyers take some cases pro bono or at drastically reduced costs because there isn’t much of a downside for them.

      You’re right, Rick: some version of Loser Pays would reduce this pronto.

      I’m not smart enough to know all the ins-and-outs of how it would work. But:
      I know that when someone has a chance at a decent payday if they WIN…and if their isn’t a balancing punishment if they LOSE, ….you’re going to have more and less-qualified suits filed than you would otherwise.

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