“Lawsuit Heaven — NYC’s Hell”

by Walter Olson on June 15, 2006

I’ve got an op-ed in today’s New York Post about the rising tide of liability lawsuits against New York City and its taxpayers (cross-posted from Point of Law). For more on how Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office disposes of reform legislation in Albany, see Henry Stern’s NYCivic, Jun. 14.

{ 3 comments }

1 David Wilson 06.15.06 at 10:46 am

Good article, Mr. Olson.

It goes without saying on this website, but these lawsuits have precious little to do with advancing traditional tort law’s goal of restoring injured parties. They are about manipulating the system for a payoff. The vast majority of these suits are either flat-out fraudulent or wildly exaggerated. A bumper tap by an ambulance can be turned into a “bulging disc” (that was probably already there) worth thousands. A stumble down the stairs of an apartment can be turned into a trip on the sidewalk around the corner, also worth thousands. Some litigants have several suits. I also believe there’s a “moral hazard” issue in a city like New York, with its multitudes all clamoring for advantage but who, in my view, tend not to regard the good of the whole and who, like members of Congress, see the public fisc as something to plunder. Ethnic friction probably plays a part here.

Add to this the armies of personal injury attorneys who can make entire livings off suing the city, the Albany problems Walter notes and probably other factors, and you have a “legal system” that fosters not law, but lawlessness. The entire system is based on greed masquerading as need and dishonesty masquerading as advocacy. It’s money-changing in the temple.

Yet those who ought to be ashamed of themselves won’t be.

2 Nathan S. Lord 06.15.06 at 5:52 pm

Should being a jury-eligible resident of a venue in which juries are notoriously liberal with other peoples’ money subject that resident to a special tax? How could that tax be graduated for maximum verdict-reducing effect?

3 Ted 06.18.06 at 11:44 am

The record will likely reflect that it’s not the higher taxpaying citizens of New York City who are on the juries that award these verdicts. My one NYC jury trial, the plaintiffs, with the help of the judge, got just about every single one of those people off the jury for one reason or another.

But everyone in NY does pay higher taxes in one form or another: car rental prices are higher, rents, prices of other goods and services, all higher than they would be otherwise.

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