Some in the news media and elsewhere would have us believe that recent legal reforms have made it a tough time to be a plaintiff’s attorney.
Sounds good, but nobody told that to the trial bar.
The fact is, tort costs in the U.S. jumped 46% in just the pasts five years. As noted in this space yesterday, a new study by the Pacific Research Institute reports that the total direct and indirect costs of lawsuits are a staggering $865 billion (for context, the U.S. spends only about $108 billion a year fighting the war in Iraq).
And one need look no further than a few headlines of late to see our lawsuit happy culture is alive and well. Everyone knows about the $54 million “pantsuit” — that is but one of countless, lesser known meritless suits happening on any given day. Consider:
· “Injured Kid’s Mom Sues ‘Slide Fool’ Coach” A 12-year-old Little League player was injured sliding into second base and his mother filed a lawsuit claiming poor coaching.
· “Perfume Lawsuit.” A Detroit city employee is suing because she claims her co-worker’s perform makes her sick.
· “Cheerleader’s family to sue school district” A Texas couple plans to sue their local school board because their daughter did not make the cheerleading squad.
You and I pay for these abusive lawsuits through higher consumer costs, higher taxes, lost jobs and stifled innovation. And the trial lawyers? With apologies to Mark Twain, rumors of their deaths have been greatly exaggerated. They are alive and well…just ask the Little League coach, the perfume wearer or the Cheerleading captain. I wonder who will be next?