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‹ FEATURED DISCUSSION

October 31, 2006

Comments from reader Thomas Zak

By Walter Olson

Here are some comments from reader Thomas Zak in Indiana:

I wanted to respond briefly to some of your comments in today's featured discussion. The numbers match up with your initial points.

1) I agree that litigation reform is a dead issue in this election, but I disagree that it was ever a serious issue to begin with. The med-mal caps suggested before were no more than a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. No major party has ever come out strongly in favor of returning sanity to our system through either a restoration of the basic principle of “assumption of risk” or the more radical idea of loser-pays.

3) Eliot Spitzer has been able to pull off his activist AG stint by having the luck of NYC and Wall Street within his jurisdiction. By having an trillion dollar industry well known for financial shenanigans under his purview, he has been able to find real scandals which can be exposed (and exploited).

The other AGs are left with the crumbs. In many cases they have latched onto questionable “scandals” like the paint industry lead fiasco in order to create a scandal out of whole cloth.

5) Given that Democratic control of congress is a possibility and that many Republicans are also opposed to common sense reforms, we must understand that national legal reform is dead – until the next major scandal of a multi-billion dollar verdict against an innocent corporation. If the public ever realizes how these all too common cases affect their pocketbooks through lost jobs and higher prices, then litigation reform will have a chance.

The problem is that the connection is too weak for the public to see since most cannot even balance their checkbooks and are gullible enough to believe that speeding drunks that roll their trucks should be given millions in compensation for “design flaws’ in traction control systems.

So the national debate is lost for now. The real question is what can be done at the state level. What comprehensive plan can be put in place to convince ANY state government to bring justice back to their justice system instead of just waiting for the next scandal and then tweaking the rules slightly?


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Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.