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Verizon Communications Inc. Message Board

  • corppigwatcher corppigwatcher Sep 17, 2004 10:09 AM Flag

    ISSUES

    Let's try something new like dicussing real issues that will effect us all. How about Tort Reform? Bush wants to eliminate junk law suits. I'm all for that. He wants to limit damages to $200K for all law suits. Let's take a closer look at his proposal. If by "Junk Law Suits" he means suits like the one where a woman spilled a cup of coffee on her lap and then sued MacDonals because there wasn't a warning on the cup, I fully agree. On the other hand, and this is also an actual case, a man had surgery to have a gangrous leg amputated and the doctor cut off the wrong leg! Then they had to cut off the bad one leaving him legless. In this case a maximum of $200K is absurd in my opinion. There should be a way to separate these two types of cases. One of them is frivolous and the other worthy. Bush wants to lump them all together. I think that is a bad idea. What do you think?

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    • I think if you read more closely, the proposed law changes limits only the penalty awards, for damages. There has been no discussion of changing the award system for medical care, or resulting care issues going forward. If a person will require life long care, special equipment or other special treatments, they are considered in the support and medical expense part of the award.

      The damages changes is to stop wayward juries from awarding money to cover the medical and care requirements and tacking on an additional $5M as punishment for stupid people spilling their own coffee.

      It is often mistaken that the change was intended to limit awards for medical and care costs. Those should never be limited, but punishment awards that are just totally outrageous should be.

      Who do you think foots the bill when companies are hit with such unreasonable awards? If the company stays in business, they simply raise prices on their goods or services. If they aren't lucky enough to survive, the employee�s or the ex-employees pay the bill.

      Is that fair?

    • I don't believe you would be able to word a bill that would be able to completely seperate the two. All it would take is a jury that would actually think about the law suit in front of them and laughing it out of court and at the same time have the plaintiff pay the legal expenses for the wronged defendant. How about a way to penalize lawyers who push these suits? Limit a lawyers take say to 5 to 10 percent of the award in all cases??

      • 3 Replies to herpony9
      • "Limit a lawyers take say to 5 to 10 percent of the award in all cases??"

        It won't fly, but how about they justify their expenses to the judge and he allows or disallows their charges and they are awarded a fixed percentage of profit margin over their approved cost submissions.

        Why should they get just a flat percentage of any awards? Just because they are able to convince a jury their client was harmed doesn't or shouldn't necessarily equate to a huge reward...sometimes making the case is easy.

        But don�t hold out much hope, their lobby is huge and the people they are lobbying to are mostly other lawyers.

      • This stuff is constitutionally relegated to the states in most cases, so talking about it at a presidential level seems a bit off the mark (well, like the rest of this campaign...)

        You don't often hear about them, but a lot of these frivolous suits are either dismissed or drastically reduced on appeal, so the appeal process should remain. Some suggestions:

        1. Give courts and judges wider latitude on accepting such lawsuits. Fox vs. Franken should have never even gotten an audience, as it was literally laughed out of court.
        1a. Set up an arbitration process for suits that have a high potential for frivolity.
        2. The filing party should bear an initial burden of proof, much like an indictment is necessary prior to a criminal trial to warrant the action.
        3. Give judges more latitude to overturn jury verdicts. Let the appeal process decide if the action was proper.
        4. The party bringing the frivolous lawsuit should bear all court costs, lawyers fees and possibly penalties if a suit is deemed frivolous. Many suits are brought in order to ry to settle out of court. Won't happen if you make it too costly to lose.
        5. Offer indemnity in cases where a life is at stake, where not taking any action would have resulted in a death, whereas doing something could have prevented it.
        5. Put a lid on what can be recovered for pain and suffering.
        6. Apply discretion on punative damages. It's not likely that a doctor would remove the wrong leg again (I hope), although a large corporation who endangers the public should be sent a sterner message.

        I agree that a blanket law won't work, since it throws out the proverbial baby with the bath water. certainly not workable at a national level.

      • Maybe more judges should be trained to recognize and throw out frivolous law suits. And to address the question of lawyer fees, in my opinion, they are excessive in all cases. And they wonder why their profession is mocked. Anyway, I don't believe Bush's proposal is the answer. I haven't heard Kerry weigh in on this issue, and with Edwards on the ticket, I doubt he will. To me, this is not the most important issue. I just thought I'd start there.

 
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