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I just wanted to thank you for giving me a better understanding of tort reform.

True. Merriam-Webster's definition of punitive is “inflicting or aiming at punishment”. However, Merriam-Webster's definition of punitive damages is "damages awarded in excess of normal compensation to the plaintiff to punish a defendant for a serious wrong."

David Pysnik

Well said! This article does a great job summing up what tort reform is all about, and I hope many people read this article; it was very informative.

There are cases out there that deserve attention and compensation, but what about the loads of frivolous cases out there? They drown out the deserving claims and cost the American people millions of dollars a year in raised prices and taxes. America needs tort reform.

Justinian Lane

How do lawsuits raise taxes? I hear this argument thrown about, but never get any concrete answers. If you have one, I'd love to hear it.


Go to overlawyered.com for the facts. This sight is pathetic. Trial lawyers work on pure extortion.

Justinian Lane

Actually, trial lawyers work to protect innocent people from the corporate interests that punish people to protect profits. And I'm glad you enjoyed the "sight" so much. Tell your friends.

overlawyered.com? Are you serious? That site is run by Walter Olson, “longtime senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute”. The Manhattan Institute is one of the most conservative “think tanks” around. They are truly pro-corporation. Thank god for trial lawyers and the truth of this site.


You are an idiot. This website is total crap.
Any dollar that is for punitive damages is passed from doctors to the insurance companies through insurance premiums for doctors and the public, which is then factored into our costs for health insurance. Trial lawyers don't cause bad doctors to get their licenses revoked. The medical board does. You don't know what you are talking about. Tort Reform Now.

Adam, Please educate yourself. Insurance policies generally do not cover punitives, which, by the way, are limited in many states to a multiple of compensatory damages - often just three times. Your party line rings hollow. Being a dogmatic loser is no way to go through life(with apologies to Animal House).

The cost of just about everything in America - goods and services, health care, education, public services and the like - all come with a lawsuit attached. It has been estimated that American businesses, CONSUMERS, and governments spend upwards of $80 billion annually on litigation and liability insurance premiums. These costs are ultimately passed on down to you and me - the American consumer. We ALL pay - and we all LOSE.

Our current litigious landscape has serious implications for health care, particularly for ob.gyns. For example, a nationwide survey of ob.gyns. and other primary care physicians found that 67% do not provide childbirth services because of sky-rocketing malpractice insurance costs. Even some of our country's major medical centers are discontinuing or limiting their obstetrical services.

COPYRIGHT 2003 International Medical News Group:
DR. ELIZABETH B. CONNELL is professor emeritus of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta


There will probably be several reasons why America will not continue to be THE world superpower over the next several generations. The trial lawyers will be one of those reasons, although they will no doubt be pointing their fingers at everybody else.
I find it interesting that the trial lawyers tend to talk about the "good old boy" network that apparently drives the evil corporate empire. I think the real dangerous good old boy network exists withing the ranks of the trial lawyers assocations and activist judges.
God help us - until you sue Him too!


Tort reform is a very bad idea especially considering the persons who happen to be promoting it at this time. All I know is we deal daily with the damage that bad corporate practices have handed us. My husband and I are the victims of massive identity theft.

Furthermore while being victimized by the thiefs we were also sold products that "protect you" from identity theft.

Funny they sold that product to us KNOWING we were already victims when we ourselves did not know and they Concealed it from us.

Want to say its an accident or inadvertant? The credit bureaus advertise business collection products that can show you "Up To 20 consumers" all USING the same SSN.

While they told people we had bad credit were not the rightful holders of our own SSN's. That they falsly attributed the correct owner of the SSN to an undocumented alien in their credit files.

Trial lawyers are not the problem when the average person cannot afford to enter federal court system and that option is just not available to them. Do you know how hard and what it cost to find a lawyer to take our case?

The system is already rigged terribly in the favor of the corporations.

Now you sit here telling me mister anonymous that trial lawyers are the problem?

From where I sit I don't think so.

And to further quantify this statement I am a registered republican.

And as always creditmonitoringsucks.

Chadi Ibrahim, MD

Tort reform in healthcare is a must. Physicians do not lose their licenses because of lawsuits that reward large sums of money. There are medical boards that do that. I highly doubt that the argument of making large corporations liable for their misdeeds and intentional harm of the public applies to physicians. Physicians are humans and mistakes do happen, but rarely are those mistakes intentional. Without tort reform in this area, ultimately rising healthcare costs will ensure that patients and the physicians that treat them are the big losers in this system.


Tort reform is definitely needed. Unfortunately the big winners in the class action lawsuits are the lawyers. An article in the newspaper today, written by a medical doctor, stated the "It is the attorneys who are olding patients and doctors hostage." What did the lawyers in the MacDonalds case receive? I'm sure it was a lot more than the victim who suffered the burns.


Class actions are not designed for the PLaintiffs to be the big winners.

They are a method for similar plaintiffs to SHARE the cost of a single litigation.

So of course the attorneys will always make more money than an individual plaintiff.

But when weighed against the aggragate Plaintiff award they get a percentage rather than a larger award than the plaintiffs.

Class actions that are worthless??

Coupon class actions ......where plaintiffs get a coupon for future business, I think those should be outlawed. Since you are then stuck trying to do business with a company that may have mistreated you previously.

Like Microsoft comes to mind. Rather than a $100 coupon we should have gotten a check for $100 so we could have bought Linux distros with it since it was an anti-trust case in the first place.


I agree that tort reform is a must. Prices of health care, education, and others will rise tremendously unless something is done to prevent these frivolous lawsuits that give people handouts. Yes, the government did spend some $80 billion dollars covering trial litigation. Also, the quality of health care is in risk of going down. Where is a doctor's incentive to practice when medical malpractice costs them nearly what they make? This country could wind up with too few doctors to even provide health care. If a doctor does 300 operations a year, and just five of them dissatisfy the patient, it is almost guaranteed that in today's world a lawsuit would be filed on one of those cases for some unintentional, prewarned side effect of the operation. How are drug companies supposed to develop new drugs for new procedures when they are all being frivolously tried for new appearing side effects in drugs that have been on the market for years? The entire system is hurting, and something needs to be done. And yes, I am a Democrat.


I am slightly disturbed by your comments on Tort Reform. I became personally interested in tort reform when my father (who is an orthopaedic surgeon) lost his practice because he could no longer practice due to expensive malpractice premiums. In Pennsylvania, no doctor is allowed to practice without malpractice insurance. I understand your analogy to McDonald's that makes Billions of dollars a year, but what about doctors, who at best, make roughly $500,000. A multimillion dollar case destroys their life. Also, what about doctors that make less. At best, my father made $200,000 to $300,000 a year and has been practicing for roughly 50 years. In recent years, insurance payouts for healthcare has been dropping and doctor's incomes have dropped. As a result, too many health professionals are forced into retirement or to move to a state that supports tort reform. To use as an example of a case that had an outrageous award: I know of a doctor and personal friend who had his life destroyed because of a malpractice case. His family now lives in poverty and he can never practice again because his reputation is scarred. One lady came into his office for a problem she was having. The doctor, who was an OB/GYN, requested X-rays and a CT scan. On the scans nothing significant appeared according to the radiologist at the time. The doctor treated as best to his knowledge and requested the lady return for a follow up. The lady never returned. Two years later, the lady was found to have a cancerous growth that apparently had been there a a couple of years. She died within a year. (Please excuse my abreviation of the story). Looking back at the previous scans to try to see if something showed up, a small spot was visible the size of a small pea. The lady's family sued and was awarded $15 million. Most of which to be payed out by the OB/GYN, and some by the Radiologist. On top of this, the lawyer was payed roughly $12 million and the family received around $500,000 after all was said and done. One happy lawyer. There are instences where tort reform is possibly a good idea. Most doctors have one to two suits against them per year. Most are dropped and some are settled out of court. Why would anyone who has to pay over $500,000 of schooling and loans and go to school for eight to ten years want to live that life? I hope you're happy.


The problem with TORT reform is it is not aimed really at protecting Doctors so make no mistake about that.

It is aimed at protecting insurers and corporations.

So if you think the only aspiration of tort reform is to allow Small town Doctor to practice medicine.

I got a bridge I would love to sell you.


If you think that Tort reform is for coporate America only. You are sadly mistaken. Please take the time to read this legislation in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, I feel that it has no chance of passing because the Bar Association will never allow it. How dare anyone limit the amount a lawyer may receive in a medical liability case. Doctors are the easiest target in America. What is your alternative solution to the problem of failing healthcare? Medicine is an Art, not a science and there are constant risks.

PA legislation for Tort Reform:

just a small taste:
"4 The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
5 hereby resolves as follows: ...
4 (b) In a medical professional liability action involving a
5 medical professional liability claim brought against a licensed
6 health care professional or a health care facility, the General
7 Assembly may, by statute, limit the recovery of noneconomic
8 damages for injuries resulting in death, or for injuries to
9 persons.
10 (c) In no other cases shall the General Assembly limit the
11 amount to be recovered for injuries resulting in death, or for
12 injuries to persons or property, and in case of death from such
13 injuries, the right of action shall survive, and the General
14 Assembly shall prescribe for whose benefit such actions shall be
15 prosecuted."

I don't appreciate personal attacks on my intelligence either.


I don't think I personally attacked your intelligence; unless, you would in fact be interested in buying said bridge in which case:

If the shoe fits........

On other dribble,

The problem with medical services in general is they are NO LONGER controlled by doctors.

As a person who waited 90 days with an imploded disc that 4 surgeons recommended surgery for on day one. Insurers are a big part of DAMAGES.

I do know exactly what the issue is.

HMO's prevent care for patients that NEED care to save money, in exchange doctors are getting paid commissions for delaying and denying said care. So now you are saying if they do that for financial gain they shouldn't be held liable for that.

Please tell me what exactly is to the consumers benefit in tort reform as relates to medicine?

It will not lower prices since insurers are already price gouging to begin with.

Persons NOT insured and NOT US Citizens are getting free care that we are all compensating for. Fixing that problem would lower medical care prices but no one is even looking at that.

So pray tell please exactly HOW is tort reform exactly going to lower the cost of medicine?

Oh and just remember that NON ECONOMIC injury your talking about? In some cases refers to the LOSS of SPOUSE, LOSS OF PARENT. etc. That person is LOST to their family for their entire LIVES.

So what your really saying is your momma is only worth $250,000 when some quack makes a HUGE bonafide error like being drunk in the operating room. Because tort reform doesn't differentiate the CAUSES of the injury.

Cause frankly I don't see it benifiting anyone who is a consumer of medical services.

I do see it benefiting a whole lot of medical providers, insurance companies, and wealthy corporations.

this is sticky situation--and to some extent I agree with what you are saying--if my parent went into surgery and died because of some drunk quack, i would be livid. YET, THINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON. because we are guided by a higher power we have no right to say what should have happened "if". we most certainly can assume we are knowledgable in TRYING to promote life, but we do not hold the DIRECT power of life. no amount of money could ever replace my parent; therefore i see no appropriate supplement, if even for millions of dollars. justification comes in many forms for the innocent. i simply see tort reform as a tool to contain the "runaway" verdicts to those WHO ARE TRYING to "fool" the system.


Not everyone believes in a higher power and therefore is not comgforted by that fact.

And GOD taking your life away by accident is one thing gross negligence is an entirely different matter.

Things don't always happen because God wills it.

God has imbued man with free will and thererfore not all deaths are because God has willed it.

What I am talking about are MINOR children who will grow up without their parent, in need of financial support for the rest of their lives.

What is it worth to never see your parent again? You parent to not attend your wedding? Your College graduation? Your High School graduation?

You have to remember tort reform is being applied with a wide brush in current legilation it will impact every lawsuit just and unjust alike. Fair and unfair alike with no mercy, no compassion, no exception.

Just remember a lawsuit is only frivolous until it is YOUR lawsuit, and your damages.

Mark Novitsky

Listen, We are LONG overdue for REAL / Legitimate Tort Reform. First, the legal industry needs to be regulated just like every other service/industry. By an external and impartial disciplinary/regulatory review board. NOT by its own TRADE ASSOCIATION. Second, The American adversarial legal system and the "right" of the legal profession to continue as self-regulated IS NOT the best system out there. It is a monopolistic, extrodinarily expensive, and self-serving inefficiencies do not put the best interests of the public as its priority. Which should eliminate its ability to function without adequate protections and reasonable oversight. Antiquated "Unauthorized Practice of Law" statutes keep the access and costs to basic fundemental legal redress unavailable to (AMA) 38 Million Americans per year. These are not frivolous lawsuits- but basic legal needs that can be undertaken just as "expertly" for divorce, bankruptcy, real estate, accountng and tax services, etc. for a dramatically reduced cost. Undertaken by certified Para-Legals and or accountants. "CHOICE"- Market Driven services... why isn't this an option? Aren't these alternatives AMERICAN FREE ENTERPRISE? /// MEDICAL MALPRACTICE??? The GAO, CBO, and the federal Natitional Practitioner Databank (along with Pol's, the AMA, and the Insurance industry) KNOW that data and analysis from the NPDB report that 5.1% of doctors in the US are responsible for 54.2% of all Med-Mal payouts. Of practicing physicians with 5 or more payouts only 13.3% have ever been disciplined. This is outrageous. Impartial and non-partisan studies report as between 44,000 to 95,000 innocent American victims annually DIE from medical "errors". A 1990 HARVARD study reported as many as 195,000 deaths. This make deaths by medical "errors" between the 3 and 8th LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN THE US!!! Physicians HEAL and POLICE Thyself!!! Why are these things allowed to occur? The public lacks information, interest, and a LOBBY. Those Congressman that voted for Med-Dis "reform" will have blood on their hands when these numbers skyrocket if this legislation is passed by the Senate after the election and becomes law. HealthPartners-a Minnesota insurance company- recently implemented a policy of no longer paying for HUGE costs associated to mediacal errors. WHAT DOES HEALTHPARTNERS KNOW THAT OUR POLICY MAKERS FAILED TO CONSIDER??? Thanks for the forum. "Mainstream" media chooses to ignore these problems.


I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but the reason that grandma won the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit was not because McDonald’s coffee was too hot. If she had not SPILLED IT she would never had been in court. Even regular coffee would scald someone if they SPILLED IT.

It’s like cutting meat with a really, really sharp knife. If you slip and cut yourself, should you blame the manufacturer of the knife for cutting yourself? Maybe you should sue the store who sold you the meat since the meat wasn’t already cut when you purchased it. I know, you should blame the manufacturer of the knife sharpener for making that knife so sharp that you cut yourself. Maybe you should sue your husband for forcing you to make dinner, so you had to cut the meat, and that made you cut yourself.

The problem is with a system that awards a monetary amount for “pain and suffering”. Juries award larger and larger settlement amounts, because there is no price you can attach to how much someone’s pain and suffering is worth, or how much someone’s life is worth. So, juries, wishing that it was themselves in the plaintiff’s seat, award huge settlements.

The absurd settlement amount gets all the attention, and all the details about the case are left out. This makes people greedy and irresponsible for their own actions. The only thing you hear about is, a lady spilled coffee on her lap and GOT PAID. And people think, Gee, if she can do it and win this huge amount of money, maybe I can too.

I was a legal assistant at a personal injury law firm for four years, where I saw cases like this every day. Some people were sincerely injured, and deserved a cash judgement. Other people lied about their injuries, and got away with it because it was cheaper for the insurance company to pay a settlement rather than try and fight it. This only helps to make people believe they can get away with frivilous lawsuits.


I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but the reason that grandma won the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit was not because McDonald’s coffee was too hot. If she had not SPILLED IT she would never had been in court. Even regular coffee would scald someone if they SPILLED IT.

It’s like cutting meat with a really, really sharp knife. If you slip and cut yourself, should you blame the manufacturer of the knife for cutting yourself? Maybe you should sue the store who sold you the meat since the meat wasn’t already cut when you purchased it. I know, you should blame the manufacturer of the knife sharpener for making that knife so sharp that you cut yourself. Maybe you should sue your husband for forcing you to make dinner, so you had to cut the meat, and that made you cut yourself.

The problem is with a system that awards a monetary amount for “pain and suffering”. Juries award larger and larger settlement amounts, because there is no price you can attach to how much someone’s pain and suffering is worth, or how much someone’s life is worth. So, juries, wishing that it was themselves in the plaintiff’s seat, award huge settlements.

The absurd settlement amount gets all the attention, and all the details about the case are left out. This makes people greedy and irresponsible for their own actions. The only thing you hear about is, a lady spilled coffee on her lap and GOT PAID. And people think, Gee, if she can do it and win this huge amount of money, maybe I can too.

I was a legal assistant at a personal injury law firm for four years, where I saw cases like this every day. Some people were sincerely injured, and deserved a cash judgement. Other people lied about their injuries, and got away with it because it was cheaper for the insurance company to pay a settlement rather than try and fight it. This only helps to make people believe they can get away with frivilous lawsuits.


there is a need for tort reform but not the reforms that corporations want passed. putting a limit on non-economic damages is absurd. the reason that non-economic damages reach such high numbers is because they are there too punish. when somebody is grossly negligent they need to face punishment to deter that kind of behavior. that is why there is liability insurance. what most people don't realize is that malpractice insurance companies are making record profits right now. why? becuase they are price-gouging doctors. it's dispicable and they blame trial lawyers and so-called frivolous lawsuits. check into the facts before you make claims. are there frivolous law suits? absolutely, but they rarely if ever win and it's a tiny portion of overall lawsuits. less than 5% of doctors ever face malpractice suits. i do agree something needs to be done but the best thing to do would be to regulate insurance rates. it's done for auto, life, fire and almost every other kind of insurance, but not malpractice. think about it. what is insurance for? it's there just in case an accident happens and the costs are overwhelming. it's purpose is to protect doctors from large judgments. if you put a limit on the amount of damages to be awarded you defeat the purpose of insurance. i guarantee they won't lower their rates. they will keep the same rates as now and pay out significanly less becuase they won't have to pay out any large sums of money. i can't wait till they go ahead and pass some tort reform. lawyers won't take a malpractice case anymore. let's call it defensive lawyering. lawyers will stop taking those cases because there is no chance of making money. these lawsuits are expensive and time consuming. insurance companies employ teams of lawywer and have expert witnesses all aimed at not paying legitimate claims. with the type of caps that the insurance companies want you had better just hope to settle for a fraction of the actual costs. putting limits on awards would strike a huge blow to consumer protection. if you want to stop frivolous law suits enact a loser pays law that requires the loser to pay for the others legal costs. enact good sumaritan laws that will exempt doctors from being found negligent when practicing medicine in an emergency. and by the way, you don't think rising health care costs having anything to do with rising drug costs. just imagine how much cheaper our drugs would be if the drug companies didn't spend hundreds of millions of dollars advertising for viagra, allegra, plavix, etc. why the hell do you need to advertise medicine? let doctors diagnose and prescribe medicine thank you very much.


We need to protect our Doctors, otherwise there will be no choices. Frivilous lawsuits have to be stopped and one way to do that is to make the person filing it pay the court costs for the defendant! Otherwise, what do you have to lose? We are driving good Doctors away everyday--let's eliminate the few bad apples and allow only legitimate lawsuits in the court room.



The Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut conducted an independant survey and found that the vast majority of doctors polled believe that frivolous lawsuits increase the costs of patient care. The lawsuits are changing the way doctors practice medicine, one third believed that patients were put at risk because of advertising by personal injury lawyers and two thirds believe that the advertising deters patients from seeking help.

One such medical lawsuit was a $400 million settlement against Fen-Phen in Fayette, Mississippi. After an investigation conducted by the FBI, eleven of the plaintiffs have been arrested for lying about taking the drug, just to collect money.

Another example would be that of a young male athalete who was kicked off of the high school basketball team for drinking. He had two other times in which he was caught and finally struck out and his parents are now suing the school for discrimination. They say that their son is an alcoholic and to not let him play on the team is discriminating against his disease. A disease he should not even have. It also clearly violates the school's rules and regulations and underaged drinking is illegal. This is a wonderful example of why this country needs Senate Bill 80.

I understand that some people need the compensation and such, but I also believe that the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few. I would love to award them what they need as long as it is proven and is legitimate. (I'm actually doing a school report about this so I've been checking a lot of sources and newspapers and such. I'm not as gung-ho as some people are and I don't mean to offend anyone. :) )

a mother

A "protected by law" crime victim- domestic violence; the "protection" in the court system was a horror....without my knowledge or consent, the violent spouse paid his attorney to dump all his debts on me (community property state)- forwarded HIS determination of division of property and HIS order to pay him a years salary and thousands of dollars.... to a judge who simply rubber stamped it!!!! The violent spouse stalked, terrorized and paid an attorney to victimize me.... for only the next seven years....nearly 60 years old when the abuses stopped....

As a crime victim mother- the garnished wages did not allow money for foolish items such as a HOME- medical or car insurances, much LESS MONEY to support children....much LESS foolish games attorneys are allowed to play with LIVES!!!
The felon? a Professional male working with attorneys! The felon got away with it!!!
The Wisconsin court system is sick.... the misconduct by attorneys excused by their Board of Irresponsibility! The standard response by that Board?... no body done nuthin wrong!Rights?


SV, you are a closeminded bastard. What facts? The facts that YOU are spoonfed by the Republican party, and various corporations ranging from insurance to comsumer goods?

You want facts? Try this on: stereotyping is generally a good way to get you damned to the bowels of hell.

I happen to be the son of a lawyer, have worked in a law office, and can tell you right now that you have the same intellectual capacity of the stewed carrots I ate for dinner.

So, before you open your shit-crusted mouth on this site ever again, I suggest you get the REAL facts about tort DEform, and life in general.

In closing: "P-p-p-piss off, Lou."

On a side note, to "protecting the doctors": the only protection they need is from the insurance companies--who are milking them for all they're worth. I've heard the transcripts of these insurance companies' meetings, and you know what they talk about? Killing off lawyers, and raising the rates.

So, all of you fools need to realize that there are bad people in this world. You also need to grow up and realize that JUST BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE FILE FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS MEANS THAT THE MAJORITY OF CASES ARE FRIVOLOUS!! That's like saying every person who owns a gun is going to go out a shoot someone. Some people will, but the MAJORITY won't.

Lawyers know what a frivolous case is--and most won't risk taking one to trial. Judges know what frivolous cases are, and they have every right to throw them out at any point.

But, the American public is so brainwashed by the Conservative media that they don't realize anymore that our court system has worked fine for over 200 years.

So, once again, I say, "P-p-p-piss off, Lou."

So long, bastards.

daniel mann

what's a 79 year old grandmother doing wearing joging pants? maybe she should sue the entity that allowed her to drive

Richard Long

If we really take a fair look at whether or not tort reform is wanted/needed, we should allow those who have been a part of the process come up with suggestions for correcting any shortcomings. These would primarily be jurors, defendants and plaintiffs.

I would also like to hear from those who have served on juries to ask them how much money they awarded in "frivolous" lawsuits.

As for class actions, I'd like to see the fool who hires an attorney to get $100 cash from Microsoft without using a class action to find an attorney to foot the expenses of litigation in the hopes of being successful.

One of the examples of abuse that American Tort Reform Association has is "forum shopping". They described the case of the airline passenger on a flight from Alabama to New Jersey who sued in North Carolina where she lived and where she bought the ticket via the internet. How outrageous! She should have traveled to Alabama or New Jersey to hire an attorney and sue! Stop the abuse, now!!!!

What are you a moron Richard?

She sued in North Carolina, since that is where she RESIDES and is probably registered to vote.

If you do not have standing in YOUR OWN district to sue where you are an established resident ......and pay your taxes then where DO you?

That is NOT forum shopping......

You buy an item from the internet, the item arrives and proceeds thru faulty wiring to BURN down your house.

Where should you be required to sue? Where the item was manufactured? Where the item was purchased from?

What about internet sites maintained in foreign countries? Where should those people be required to sue?


melanie, nice slippery slope.... Look it up.


One serious problem with our masses is, that it's the ignorant who are so cocksure they know everything. We who gather facts to understand the interests from all sides, realize we need to maintain our open minds so as not to shut out new, true or better information.

I'm amazed most by Adam who didn't mind a drunken doctor killing his father, because God willed it all for a reason. If God wanted to be so all-powerful, he wouldn't have given us such bounteous capacity of our brains, hands, and hearts. Even Goodness and your own good senses should recognize agregiousness, disregard and contempt. There's malicious intent, gross misconduct, plenty more criminal charges due this scenario.

The great majority of doctors are amazing individuals who have brilliant minds, skilled hands, and great compassion. They generally choose generous and caring spouses also, who are willing to sacrifice their time together in the interest of others and maybe, of humanity. It is a people business, and those who don't like people don't choose this profession where the whole of their lives is committed to interacting with and helping people.

The point of this so-called "tort reform" may not harm doctors, but it isn't worded for their benefit, either. The particular agenda of this so-called "tort reform" will enormously affect employees, consumers, and civilians catastrophically injured, by working for, purchasing, or living near an entity that caused harm, not inadvertant, but negligent. Large awards are only passed on where there is negligence beyond the standards of "fair-minded" and "reasonable" persons; where gross misconduct or gross disregard exist, and where the disregard of the potential danger and harm reaches "agregious" proportions. In other words, if the ones responsible for a decision, would have acted differently if the potential danger and degree of harm were to exist for themselves or their loved ones.

The agenda for this particular so-called "tort reform" is solely for the insurance industry. There is no requirement for how insurance companies calculate premiums. And if the industry were in danger of collapsing, how could they afford the billions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions and multi-millian dollar annual salaries. And what of the rampant and systemic corruptions embedded into the industry practices which Attorney General of New York, Elliot Spitzer is only beginning to reveal. Huge corruptions. Huge dollars. Industry-wide practices.

If the storehouses of insurance companies are running dry, it's due to waste, fraud, corruption, and empiric salaries.

When the annual salaries of corporate CEO's can be capped at a quarter million dollars, maybe then we could consider limiting compensation for the pain and suffering, the endless surgeries, the un-ending treatments and rehab, the loss - for life - of any ability to earn a living or be a productive member of society. The affects to convivial relationships, the social interactions in the world, on the street, at the job, in one's daily life. All lost. And the pro-corporate interests want to cap those occasional, catastrophic, and agregiously manifest pay-outs at a quarter million dollars - lifetime!

The waste, corruption, advertising, marketing, lobbying, campaign contribution, political donation - all these expenses - the cost of legal expertise to avoid fair payouts, the cost of accounting expertise to manipulate away fair tax responsibility - the choices and priorities of where money goes - to try to buy a way out of responsibility, rather than to proudly accept the responsibility of their role in the nation, and the world. It's the difference between immaturity and maturity. Trying to "get out of" rather than "taking on" accountability. "You can't make me" vs. a "place in the world" or a "stand" for the world, for employees, for those damaged, even if inadvertantly!

Additionally, it's unconstitutional in Ohio anyway, to take away the right of the jury to decide the award. If circumstances are SO-O agregious that they feel they need or want to send a clear message of their discontent, the right is theirs. If they are capable of deciding the life or death of a person, they are certainly capable of determining fair dollar awards. Maybe some awards seem so mind blowing because our minds would be blown to know the daily intake of some of these corporations. In these days of behemoth monolithic entities, and numerous mega-mergers in the wings, maybe we should know the parent name of all companies and the daily take, and the amount of pride and responsibility they reflect in their tax and community contribution.

War makes money. Peace on Earth.

Andrea Page

You guys did an awesome job at summing up what the tort reform really is. I was just assigned a paper to do on tort reform for a mid term. I had no understanding on it before now. Great job, Thanks so much! ;)


I don't get a penny from the Manhattan Institute, and I write for overlawyered.com. Perhaps you can identify what is incorrect on our site? We give extensive coverage of Liebeck on there.

By the way, you're wrong about McDonald's. They haven't lowered the temperature of their coffee. And Starbucks serves it at the same high temperature. This is because coffee is supposed to be brewed at that temperature. Liebeck's lawyer still goes around suing coffee sellers. Most judges throw these cases out. See, e.g., McMahon v. Bunn-O-Matic.


Attacking tort reform in the belief that it will lead to corporate greed is like attacking the military because it has a single failed program. Corp-reform is certainly needed. However, in the case cited, the order could have been for a reasonable award to the grandmother, and an order that McDonald's reduce the temp of their coffee served to 160 degrees or less within 10 days, or a punitive award of $10,000,000 would be entered.

As for tort reform, most citizens are concerned about rising healthcare costs, which are directly attributable to insurance rates and costs, which are directly attributable to malpractice awards. Inability to pay healthcare bills is responsible for over half of the bankruptcy filings in our country.

Lastly, no trial lawyer has any right to complain when their brethren can be seen 24 hours a day hawking their pathetic practices on t.v.. A typical ad promotes, "We can get you an award exceeding $10,000 for a slip or fall. If you have slipped or fallen, contact us immediately!" They are not called "amublance chasers" undeservedly. Pick up any Yellow Pages in the country, and tell me what the largest advertising listing is for...trial lawyers!

Don't talk about how corporate greed is the basis of our problems...tell it to your buddies at the ATLA.

Chris Nelson

As a law student in England, I am thankful for your succinct and illuminating definition of "tort reform" in US tort law.

Without wishing to presume anything, it may well be worth considering whether excessive awards are a consequence of allowing a jury of 12 untrained people from the streets to deliver sentence.

Instead of arbitary limitations on the amount of damages that are recoverable in lawsuits, which clearly run counter to the principle that damages should be awarded on the basis of the damage incurred in each particular case, perhaps one should revisit the role of the jury in civil cases.

In England, civil cases are predominantly decided by a judge sitting alone, who has been trained in order to deliver awards of compensation at an appropriate level.

While you may not wish to abolish the jury in civil cases (I understand to do so may require that rare beast of a constitutional amendment), perhaps it would be more appropriate to leave to the jury merely questions of whether or not a defendant should be held liable for a particular type of damage - thus leaving to the judge to decide upon the size of the award.

Such a system may well be a far more equitable method of dealing with unnecessarily large awards, and help bring the reduction of insurance premiums down to a reasonable level.


in my point of view. Tort Reform is a must in healthcare, however, tort reform is being used abusively against the public and is only helping out the big companies. such as that case with the firestone tires that was mentioned in this article. no one knew about the tires until about recently, and who knows how many families have died and how many are still suffering because of secrecy that has been kept between the government and the big companies. Tort reform may be good but it still has a lot of flaws and these should be taken care of before any more families are destroyed.


Your opinions suck.


One point in the MacDonalds case you don't bring up. The grandmother Stella did not take any responsibility for two things she did wrong. One attempting to drink a hot beverage while driving car, and two she placed the coffee cup between her legs! She made choices that were a part of the accident. We do not hace a culture that accepts responsibility on any level. It is always blame someone else and see what you can get.


I recieved a scholarship based on writing an essay on tort reform. Thanks for the great explination. You may have just put me on track to win $1000

Amber Short

I enjoyed this article and I would like some more information on this topic.


My question on tort reform. The aim of the tort reform movement is to make it easier for deserving tort plaintiffs to recover?




If you read the article concerning Stella in this website, you would see that Stella was not driving. However I agree that it was her choice to order the hot coffee.

Everyone else who cares:

While tastes vary, the the water used to make a proper cup of coffee should be around 200 degrees F. Some people even make coffee out of... boiling water. Gasp! If I was a klutz, that could really hurt! And do not complain to me saying something like "but Stella was old!" because then I say to you, "What was she doing ordering coffee if she is old and cannot hold it?" In addition, why does it matter that Stella was wearing jogging pants?
Anyway if you want your coffee to cool quickly, use 158 degree water.
I realize that this is not really the topic of discussion but just the same, crappy case for action against McDonalds and a bad example for why tort reform is evil.

I like the idea that doctors are people. And I also like the idea that practicing medicine is an art. It is your choice to visit that particular doctor. Finally, Doctors drunk while working? Why don't we just take the most extreme case and apply it to every case!

Stella awards rock!


The coffee fresh out of my bunn coffee pot is around 160 degrees. in the half hour drive to work it is still plenty hot when I get there. Yes, I have spilled it on myself with know ill effects, and have beenscalded by boiling water and know the pain all too well. I think people are mising the big picture on the tort reform. If a corporation such as Firestone or McDonalds show a callous disregard for the safety of their consumers they should be held accountable for their actions. Lets not put corporate profit ahead of worker/consumer safety!!! This site was very informativeand I enjoyed it thoroughly.


I just wanted to say the argument against tort reform stating that 'minor children' won't be financially supported is not true. That particular part of the award does not fall under 'non-economic', pain and suffering damages. It is actually part of the 'economic' side of the award because loss of salary/loss of support is actually economic. While I agree that the loss of a parent cannot be comforted by simply awarding the equivalent monetary salary; it is not valid to use that as an argument against tort reform.

Blason--- What are you smoking?

Non-economic pain and sufffering in the case of a minor child would be the loss of parent period?

Sure there is the economic salary component.

But what about the non-economic loss of a father walking his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day?

No parent at high school graduation?

No parent to attend parent teacher conferences? Help with home work? Attend little league games?

Minor children will lose the portion of the proceeds they should receive to compensate them for this type of loss.

Tort Reform in that instance punishes the most vunerable among us for the sake of corporate profits.

No company regardless of who it is pays for their damages out of the goodness of their hearts. Only if sued and taken to court and ordered to pay do they do so.

Otherwise they got a million excuses for why they don't have to do the right thing and fix the problem, correct their failings, or compensate victims.

It matters not that the paintiff is innocent or that they are wholly guilty, the only thing that matters to them is prove it.


I have worked now on both sides of the field. I have been a medical office manager and lost my job last year to my doctors leaving the area due to higher malpractice cost. I use to feel that lawsuits are way out of hand and still some of them are. To many people want something for nothing and someone to blame for an "accident", and other times I have seen where some people have a case for something but don't deserve the amount that they are requesting. I also feel that the freedom we have in the US is causing people to be greedy, lazy, and down right useless to society because they want the easy way out.

Now I work at an attorney's office in the medical department for asbestosis related cancer, "mesothelioma". I have reviewed medical records for pain and suffering of individuals with this cancer and how they and their families suffer due to the upcoming demise. A person does not live long when diagnsosed with mesothelioma. I have cried reading how they suffer with the pain and how the wife/husband/or children have to watch that parent/child die.

Due to the secrecy of what asbestosis can due to you, these people and families do need to be compensated. Money will not change anything, but it is a punishment to the companies who did not get the information out about the product and made billions of dollars.

No one is perfect and an accident and/or incident can happen, not always due to someone else's fault. Some people need to see certain things as they are, "accidents", and move on in their lives. If something is down right out of someone else's ignorance, then do what needs to be done.

For instance, if I go four wheeling and get hurt, it is not the fault of the property owner of the land that I was on to cover my medical bills, I chose to ride the four wheeler. Or if my child falls on his bike in the church parking lot and breaks his arm, it is not the church's responsibility to compensate for that, and that property thing happens quite often. Take responsibility for yourselves and your accidents and incidents. Life happens.


I agree with Dana about people just needing to take responsibility for their own lives, and that should be a constitutional amendment, not "tort reform".

Accidents and mistakes happen all the time, and the people who are responsible for making the mistake or causing the accident should be held accountable.

My son has cerebral palsy due to the gross negligence of two doctors and the hospital staff. It is a very detailed story that I can not go into, but ultimately I would never have known anything about what really went on if it weren't for the investigation performed by my sons lawyer. Basically, my son was deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time which caused damage to his brain. The depletion of his oxygen reserves occurred over an 11 hour period. As an analogy, it was as though my son was being dunked under water, then pulled back up for a quick breath and then dunked back under again, repeatedly, for 11 hours! and the nurses even admitted during their depositions that they knew about it, and were concerned, but nobody did anything about it because the doctor ordered them to do nothing! then 26 hours after my wifes water broke, she finally gave birth!

The hospital knew they were at fault and only 4 days after my son was born, they requested that my wife and I terminate life support. We agreed to remove the ventilator, because if he could not breathe on his own then we thought it would be best. So after spending 5 agonizing hours saying goodbye to him, he continued to breath and so we requested that he be given nourishment - and the hospital REFUSED! they were going to let him starve to death! they knew they had screwed up and wanted to bury the evidence before they were forced to compensate!

So anyway, our son is a wonderful little guy, and he has changed my life in many ways. I would not want a life without him. He is severly handicapped, however, and can do nothing for himself. He is 3 years old and my wife and I still have to change his diaper, spoon feed him mush because he has a hard time chewing and swallowing so just that alone takes several hours a day, keep him entertained because he can not run around and entertain himself, and when he cries it is very frustrating for us to try and figure out what is bothering him because he can not communicate what he needs... It is a full time job, and my wife has had to give up her career to take care of him.

Also, his health care alone costs a fortune, which is currently being paid for by the tax payers because he is on medicaid. You've bought him an $8000, basic manual wheel chair (outrageous isn't it?), a $5000 standing frame, and you've paid for a couple of surgeries, numerous hospital, neurologist, special needs pediatric visits as well as weekly and biweekly speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, visual therapy, etc, etc. Now should not the responsible party be forced to manage these expenses rather than making the tax payers pay for it? The public is rewarding the medical establishment with a fortune that a little boy is allowing them to reap because of his special needs! it's completely ASININE.

Monetary compensation will indeed make life a lot easier for us to care for our son, and it will make life better for all of us. While it is definitely not a sufficient replacement for the fact that I may never hear my son say "daddy", and I may never see him take his first steps, those bastards need to be held accountable in one fashion or another.

Maybe we should just go back to "an eye for an eye"? how would ya like it then!?

By the way, we are settling with the hospital for an improper amount, but it will suffice. we won't be able to do the alternative therapies (like Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) that we wanted to do for him, that insurance companies won't pay for (because the insurance industry doesn't want any of their money leaving their traditional medical loop), but he will be getting regular insurance coverage so at least you won't have to pay for everything he needs. and when he turns 18, he will be getting paid monthly, bankin' like a doctor, which is good because his disability may prevent him from getting any kind of job, and who knows - he might have became a doctor if his brain had not been damaged.

I feel bad for those of you who may go through a similar situation as mine, but will be unable to seek compensation for the pain and suffering you will no doubt endure. And because doctors no longer have to worry about being sued for their mistakes, I feel they may get sloppy. After all, obviously most doctors aren't in the profession because they care about you or me, they are in it for the money... if they can't bank $200 thousand a year then they leave the profession. Now what is going to stop them from turning into that crooked mechanic who creates problems just so you have to make return visits to line his pockets with silver?

Corporate America needs to be forced down, so they aren't any better than the rest of us, so we can all play ball on the same field and drink out of the same fountains and... this is really no different than racism - it is socio-economic-statusism. and we need to fight for our rights! we don't have to sit here and take it! women fought for their rights, and won! African Americans fought for their rights, and won! now it is time for all of us, we the people, the common men and women of America to get off our asses and fight for what we know is right! stop letting the rich and the powerful make the decisions for us! stop letting them "protect us from ourselves"! those pompous bastards need to be sent home without any cake!


I'm writing a paper on the pros and con's of tort reform for an MBA paper. Your article was some of the most helpful research I've found. Thanks.


Not everyone believes in a higher power and therefore is not comgforted by that fact.

And GOD taking your life away by accident is one thing gross negligence is an entirely different matter.

Things don't always happen because God wills it.

God has imbued man with free will and thererfore not all deaths are because God has willed it.

What I am talking about are MINOR children who will grow up without their parent, in need of financial support for the rest of their lives.

What is it worth to never see your parent again? You parent to not attend your wedding? Your College graduation? Your High School graduation?

You have to remember tort reform is being applied with a wide brush in current legilation it will impact every lawsuit just and unjust alike. Fair and unfair alike with no mercy, no compassion, no exception.

Just remember a lawsuit is only frivolous until it is YOUR lawsuit, and your damages.


what the Heck

Adrienne Page Hobbs

I had to rspond to Dean's comments - the son of the ortho who is reciting incorrect facts in his post.

He "abbreviates" a story about a woman who died within a year of diagnosis of cancer, so we don't know the facts of the case. You would actually need the woman's (or decedent's) medical records to properly evaluate the case. I would know because I am a trial lawyer and I am married to a physician. My husband is an internist and pays approximately 10 k per year in malpractice insurance. I pay roughly 3k. No one ever talks about other professionals who pay malpractice premiums. I gladly pay so that I can compensate a client in the event I make a mistake. Same with my husband. Insurance also protects our personal assests in the event we are sued because professionals, even those who have corporations, can be held personally liable for their actions, at least in Georgia.

Medical school costs 500k - since when? and where did your father go to school? My husband's education was about 120k. We are still paying loans for both of our educations, but it was our choice to attend professional school.

My aunt died at the age of 20 because of an incompetent doctor who failed to treat her with a simple antibiotic. Some of my cliens have tragic stories and some people suffer each and every day as a victim of medical malpractice. This is an expensive way to live when you need round the clock nursing care, etc.

Despite my aunt's death, I married a doctor because he is one of the good ones and I fell in love with him. Lawyers are like docs- some are good and some are not. That is why it is so important that each of us has the right to sue a professional if the need arises. That is why a jury of our peers gets to make decisions about what is fair in the event that an insurance company railroads the plaintiffs and refuses to make any fair offers - you would be surprised how often this happens. The worst violators are State Farm, Safeway and Allstate, FYI (at least for car wrecks).

Adrienne P. Hobbs, Trial Lawyer


I see so much venom in these messages. Nasty comments, personal attacks and the like only serve to get us off the point.

I am a plaintiffs' lawyer and have been since 1997. After considering my office expenses, overhead and many other factors, I make no more doing this work than when I was an Aerospace Engineer. So if anyone thinks all plaintiffs lawyers are rich, they are mistaken. Before 1997 I was a defense lawyer, defending hospitals, doctors and many large corporations. My personal experience is that corporations (large ones anyway) and insurance adjusters tend to be very arrogant and resent answering to ordinary citizens, like those on a jury. I think this arrogance is wrong. They also use their lawyers to hammer plaintiffs and their lawyers with all forms of legal obstacles. It doesn't matter if the plaintiff is good or bad, or hurt bad or not. Its just business for the corporations.

Some doctors share this arrogance, although many do not. Certainly their insurance companies, whose attorneys will represent the doctors in malpractice litigation, do. In any event taking a doctor's opinion on whether or not they should have additional protections in lawsuits is like asking a criminal to set his own sentence, or if he would like to put limits on how much time he should serve for his bad acts. That is hardly a non-biased opinion. I have heard so many "horror stories" where doctors claim to be leaving their home states because of malpractice rates. I'm real curious where all these doctors are going, since it seems like this is supposedely happening in every state. I drive past residences of doctors in wealthy neighborhoods, I see our hospitals and medical offices teaming with doctors, and I see the local medical directories full of doctor listings. When I want to see a specialist my only problem is how to choose, there are so many choices. Simply put, there ain't no shortage of doctors around here. I live in St. Louis, Missouri, supposedly a really bad place for doctors because of St. Louis City juries. Our state just went though, and continues to go through, major tort reform.

I know that rural communities often are short of doctors but that has nothing to do with lawsuits. Rural communities have always had problems getting doctors because the pay is so much lower. Do I think doctors are "greedy" because most seek out major population areas rather than small towns. No. And I do not consider myself greedy for trying to make a living either. I have not seen any statistical data of any kind showing that rural doctors are fleeing the countryside because of lawsuits. The whole notion is contrary to my obsersavations in life and to me makes no sense.

I do not think anyone, doctors, lawyers, the government, anyone, should be immune in any manner or have special protections from being sued for negligent behavior to persons to whom they owe a duty of care. Lawsuits promote (though do not guarantee) responsibility. To the extent that a plaintiff is responsible for their own misconduct, juries are usually allowed to take that into account by assessing a percentage of fault against the plaintiff thereby reducing the judgment.

If anyone thinks prosecuting a lawsuit is easy, and that frivilous lawsuits are a way to make money, that person cannot have any experience in doing trial work for either plaintiffs or defendants. Lawsuits are time-consuming and risky. And because plaintiffs have the burden of proof, plaintiffs generally have more work to do. If you want to know how burdensome it is to get a lawsuit to trial, a process that often takes years, you may wish to speak with trial lawyers from either side, or take classes on civil procedure, evidence, research and writing and trial advocacy as a starter.

Is a frivilous lawsuit easy to file: sure. But after it is filed a plaintiff will be met with immediate efforts to get the case dismissed. It really is a grinding process that a plaintiff must go through to get to trial. There are legal matters of all sorts, depositions, written questions to answer and medical examinations that the insurance company will want to have a plaintiff attend. It is not easy. I'm not complaining. I'm just saying no lawyer is going to make money filing frivolous lawsuits. If anyone thinks that a little ol' lawyer is going to scare a big company into paying on a weak claim, they don't have to work opposite of big companies very much. I've tried real hard, but I find that they just don't scare easy. Maybe I'm just not a scary guy. Grrrrrrrrr. How's that? Anyone scared?

Bottom line here - this is America, where no one is supposed to be above the law. I'm not. I can be sued for professional negligence. Why shouldn't doctors be fully accountable as well? I like and respect virtually all of the doctors that I meet in my practice. I'm talking about treating doctors, not experts that I have hired. The only doctors that I find unpleasant, nasty and even belligerent at times are doctors hired by insurance companies to examine my clients. Since our system is an advesary system defendants generally have a right to subject my clients to being examined by their doctors. I don't mind really. In the end I put on my evidence, the defendant puts on his, and the jury decides.

The jury system is not perfect. No system on earth is, but I trust it more than I do a single judge trying the case. Don't get me started on judges. Defendants seem to agree. In every single case I have tried the defendants join in my demand for a jury trial. It is a fact folks, the right to a trial by jury was put in the US Constitution and our states' constitutions to protect everyone - not just plaintiffs. If I am ever sued, professionally or because I hurt someone in a car accident, I sure want a jury. Does anyone here disagree? Would you want to leave it up to a single judge when you do not know who his friends are?

And if tommorrow the gas tank in my truck explodes and I am burned over 90% of my body, and it is proven in a court of law that the truck manufacturer knew about some defect in my truck that caused the explosion and could have fixed it for a few bucks per truck and that there were many other cases like mine before I was hurt, I would go absolutely crazy to think that they would only have to pay for my pain and suffering a maximum of $250,000.00. Is that fair? Does anyone here remember the exploding Pinto gas tanks of many years ago? Remember, corporations evaluate things in dollars and cents. If you take away their fear of being hit with a big judgment they can crank their books, and determine exactly how many people will suffer and die and how much it will cost them at $250,000.00 per case. They will then accept a lot of design weaknesses because it is cheaper to just pay the bill and let the people suffer.

The analysis for doctors isn't much different. Now I do not think many doctors sit down and calculate how many patients they can kill or injure and get away with it, but their insurers do. The discussion can go on ad infinitum, but the conclusion for me is simple, when a person need not pay the full consequences of his own bad acts, part of the natural inclination to avoid suffering for oneself is reduced or elimated, thus skewing that persons behavior in the direction of doing more bad acts. Now some doctors, maybe many, will always act with the highest regard for patient safety at all times, regardless of any immunities or protections they may be given by law. But as stated in an earlier post, doctors are after all only human. So a little incentive from the legal system to do good is, I think, a good thing.

As for the McDonald's coffee case, move on. Can't we just all agree to disagree? Hasn't that case been argued to death? For some it is an example of a system gone wild. For some it was justice obtained, and its use by tort-reformers is an example of twisting information by the media or corporations. Whatever the case may be, it is only ONE CASE. Even if it were a case of a crazy verdict it establsihes only that the system is not perfect and that a crazy case can slip by. So what? Can anyone give any more verifiable crazy verdicts that are so numerous to justify the claims made that frivolous lawsuits are swamping the system?


Whenever I hear President Bush talk about having to stop these *frivolous lawsuits* I have the same reaction that I now have when I see videos of him harping on the mythical "weapons of mass destruction." They are simply Karl Rovian buzzwords that are not based on reality.
Remember that lawyers who represent plaintiffs (unlike the billing machines who represent corporate America) only get paid if they win - and also get stuck with the costs of the case, the doctors, expert witnesses, depositions etc, to boot, if they lose. So how many "frivolous cases" do you think a plaintiff's lawyer can handle until he has to close his office? If there is a high verdict in a case, it ain't because the case is frivoloius---far from it. The cases that are frivolous get thrown out, or more likely, never get brought in the first place by any lawyer who is doing his job. Despite what you may see on TV, most plaintiff lawyers are solo practitioners and small firms, who have mortgage payments and tuition payments just like anyone else...and cannot afford to bring cases that are unlikely to win.
And one more thing, consider the kid who is catastrophically injured - who is now brain damaged and blind becasue he was given the wrong medication or because he was negligently deprived of oxygen at birth----THAT is the kind of case that is affected by so-called "tort reforms" proposed by the Republicans. The little whiplash case with the whining plaintiff - more likely characterized, perhaps as questionable or frivolous due to the minimal injury - that kind of case is NOT affected by caps etc
Good job, Justinian!


OK, I've read enough. I need to comment. It is important to understand there are TWO kinds of lawyers in our country. One is a defense attorney, defending corporate America, working on an hourly basis, with clients paying costs as they go. The other is a trial attorney, representing wronged citizens. The trial attorney pays, out of his own pocket, the costs of experts to review documents and records, depositions, court reporters, duplication and copying costs, etc., etc., etc. The clients (our citizenry) usually don't have the 10's of thousands of dollars required to take a lawsuit to trial, and it's usually years before a case goes to trial (remember the defense attorneys are getting paid hourly (usually several hundred per hour) and they are happy to drag it on and on and on. So for a trial attorney to take 33% to 40% of a verdict is not so unreasonable considering the years of time without pay and the up front costs he/she has had to pay to get the case to trial. Don't be lumping all attorneys into one category. It's the defense attorneys (defending corporations) who are working with insurance companies trying to get tort reform passed. It's us, the little guy who will be the big losers if it does pass.


Bizarre Lawsuits:

History of United States has been ripe with examples of baseless and weird lawsuits. These lawsuits seem to be a mockery of the Judicial System and bring a shame to the whole nation. Some examples of such eccentric and unusual lawsuits are as follows:
• A Student sues the school, for providing summer homework, alleging that it creates unnecessary stress and unfair workload. (From the Associated Press, January 21, 2005)
• A couple sued the American airline claiming that they didn’t have enough leg room and subsequently were cramped aboard a flight to Paris. According to the May14, 2004 edition of Chicago-Sun times, they are seeking $1,00,000
• A train conductor settled for $8.5 million from a railroad after claiming a collision between his commuter train and a freight train worsened his alcoholism. (From the Associated Press Feb 2, 2005.)
• A woman sues a railroad on suffering minor injuries after getting hit by a train while walking along railroad tracks. She is suing the railroad for more than $30,000 as she says the railroad didn’t warn people that trains were likely to travel on the tracks she was walking along. (Associated Press Newswires, November 5, 2004)
• A child named Jose sues the school district when he sat and broke a wooden bench provided by the school authorities. He fractured his pelvis bone in the process.

Such frivolous lawsuits have led to a greater need for Tort Reforms in the Judicial System. Mr. Dick Weekley’s Texans for Lawsuit Reforms is one organization that is dedicated to bringing fairness in the judicial system.

For more info on Tort Reforms, login to


I don't think you can say that any one being defended by a trial attorney is defending some one who has been wronged they're defending them because whether they win or lose they get paid they don't pay for the experts out of there own pocket the client is paying them to win them the case so they pay with the client money not there own. and you can't say all defense attorneys are complete dicks just because they defend america thats a bit out of line they could be right jeeze man and you say don't put all attorneys in catergorys but isn't that what your doing hm?


I was in a car accident recently. My family and were taken to the hospital by ambulance. The nurse asked more than repeatedly if I was on drugs. I told her I've never taken any drugs in my entire life. The nurse said the pain was from the seat belt. I was throwing up in the hospital. I could not be moved without screaming. Then I could not hold my bladder. I was in so much pain. The pain of three natural childbirths put together without an epideral kind of pain. The doctor sent me home with pain and muscle spasms presciption. The did give me some at the hospital. Get this, We were released a few hours after being admitted. We got home, 5 1/2 hrs later I was in another hospital ER closer to home. The same tests were performed on me (blood, C-T, X-rays ect, like the first hospital. They ordered an immediate exploritory surgery on me by a Trauma Unit. They saw fluids on my tests, they didn't know where it was coming from. They found my small intestine ruptured by the accident I was poisoning myself with my own bodily fluids. I'd decided to be a stay at home mom until my five year old would start school this upcoming year. I planned to finish my Criminal Justice Degree then.I should be dead right now if I decided to try to stay home with that excruciating pain. Should I let it go just because the doctors are in a hurry to get you out of there. (Bye the way because we didn't trust the first hospital my husband had more tests done on him. They also found a hair line fracture on his elbow.) Should I just be greatfull to be alive. mw


I'm also going to more doctors for my back and shoulder pain... Now I can go up to the nurse and say I am taking drugs now.
I stayed away from drugs all my life now I can't go threw the day without them


I admit upfront I do not remember the source, but I did read that the vast majority of lawsuits are companies suing each other. If this is accurate, no matter how much you limit an individual's ability to sue or collect will not improve our legal system's backlog much. As I understand tort reform as proposed will do nothing to the rampant suits between companies.

Having been victimized by a former commercial tennant and sued for $3,000,000.00, I am very familiar with the frivolous lawsuit. Her suit was dismissed as frivolous by the judge. She then went to jail for writing a bad check IN the courtroom. And, it only cost me $13,000.00 to have the case thrown out. Even with that bad experience I cannot support any reform that benefits the rich and strong and removes avenues of relief for the weak and/or poor. Now if we starting talking about real reform where we go back to the days when corporations could not sue then we could see courts that are more nimble, responsive, and interested in justice. Unfortunately, some real evil people (or idiots) decided that corporations have constitutional rights as persons. Now, if only human beings had rights we might have a chance at some fairness and justice in this country.


Justinian Lane said "Actually, trial lawyers work to protect innocent people from the corporate interests that punish people to protect profits."

This is hillarious. Yes, the evil corporation and the selfless trial lawyer. Give me a break!!! I am a lawyer, and while trial lawyers do some good, only a fool would deny that many trial lawyers are just out there to make a living and don't really care about the merits of the cases they take. And many make a very good living at the expense of everybody including their clients.

With a few exceptions, the legal profession is all about making money....just like those evil corporations.


There are a million hidden costs that you neglect to mention. Doctors end up practicing "defensive" medicine, to "appear" like they did everything they could. It's very common for doctors to run many extra tests in procedures, even if they might be HARMFUL to the patient, so the doctor can demonstrate to the jury that via shear busyness "he did everything he could." Additionally, while few cases go to court, that is because the fear of an outrageous settlement is so huge and expensive, that most doctors and their insurance companies just decide to settle for a large sum, even when they know they are right. The public doesn't even end up hearing these lawsuits, because they get settled in 2 seconds. I have seen so many cases where women who give birth to kids with medical problems end up getting huge settlements, even if the mother drank or even if the problem is genetic. If they do go to trial, here you have this compassionate jury who sees this poor mother with her struggling son, so of course you'll give her the money instead of the "evil" corporation. The jury may know that the woman couldn't prove her case, unequivacly, but they figure the company has big pockets, so it's no big deal if they just pay for it.
Additionally, even when a case is legitimate, people often get $50 million for their grievances. That amount of money from a public hospital won't give you back your health, but it will prevent 500 other people for addressing theirs. It is very very sad when someone dies from an accident, but not even all the money in the world will bring your loved one back. The implication that $50 million is a just compensation implies that your loved one's life was worth a dollar amount. Of course there needs to be lawsuits as deterrents to wrong-doing, but all this does it take money from thousands of potentially treated poor patients and hands it all to a handfull of plantiffs and their lawyers.


And by the way, "truly helping people," as you wrote on your blog, is not making the transfer of money between rich people and poor people. It's giving poor people your own money. It is not help or charity if you make a profit. So just be honest with yourself. You may get satisfaction for sticking it to the man, but of course you will do that with the plaintiff's award. This will prove very convenient for advancing your social/political views at no cost!

B. Westbrook

Tort reform itself needs to be reformed, with the scales balanced so that the average citizen -- the "little guy" -- has a fighting chance against the corporations and others which heedlessly cause injuries and deaths. The pendulum must swing back toward a saner, safer America of conscientiousness and accountability, or else tort "reform" makes a mockery of the term. Personal injury lawyers aren't the bad guys, but the good guys who fight for the little guy's rights, even in the face of tort "reform."

laura hickey


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