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Sick of Lawsuits Update
September 2007

"You distinguished yourself in the practice of law. Speaking metaphorically, Lady Justice must be sobbing."

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate when handing down a prison sentence to a prominent personal injury lawyer and the two Mississippi judges he bribed for favorable rulings. Associated Press, September 8, 2007.

In the News

After I-35W bridge collapse, lawyers promptly pounced

"The last victim of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse has been recovered from the water. The long, complex search for the disaster's cause is ramping up in earnest. It's about the time we'd expect the lawyers to descend. But the pinstripes are already out of the gate, setting new records for jumping the gun in a disaster. Just days after the collapse, while recovery crews were still battling treacherous waters, Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben -- one of the state's highest profile personal injury firms -- petitioned for access to the site for three attorneys and two expert witnesses. An immediate inspection of the bridge "will be essential to vigorously ... prosecute wrongful death and personal injury claims" for five unnamed clients, the lawyers insisted. Such an inspection, of course, would also create big-time publicity and a chance to attract more clients. In an order heavy with understatement, the judge made clear that the Schwebel firm's appearance in court was highly premature. The firm, he noted, "candidly admitted" that it does not yet know "whom it should sue or what allegations it should make."" Minneapolis Star-Tribune, September 2, 2007. Read More »

Is there a doctor in the house...who hasn't been sued?

"For plaintiffs lawyer and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, 1985 was the year he stood before a jury and channeled the silent pleas of a baby girl born breeched and brain-damaged, thanks to a doctor's alleged negligence. "I feel her presence, she's inside me ... talking to you," Edwards told the jury of his tiny client, according to The New York Times. The jury came back with a $6.5 million verdict for Edwards' client, inspiring him to file "at least 20 more similar lawsuits against doctors and hospitals in deliveries gone wrong, winning verdicts and settlements of more than $60 million, typically keeping about a third," the Times reported. Edwards' lucrative performance was but one case from among many in multiple areas of litigation in which plaintiffs lawyers in recent years have found riches by filing lawsuits for individuals or groups claiming personal injury, property damage, or financial loss allegedly caused by some person, agency or company. Since it's often impossible for defendants to counter such suits effectively, many quickly settle before trial to "make it go away," in effect converting the court system into an ATM for out-of-control plaintiffs lawyers." Examiner, September 14, 2007. Read More »

The Price of Loony Litigation

"You can't get your oil checked in Sea Isle anymore. Heading back from the Jersey Shore the Sunday before last for the start of another school year, we stopped at Sea Isle's only service station for gas. With a seven-hour trip ahead of us, I asked the station's attendant to check the oil. The station wasn't busy, and he was just standing around, waiting for the gas pump to automatically click off at sixty dollars or so. "I can't," he said, referring to the oil check. 'Some lady came in here in a junker and broke down on the way home and sued us for $10,000,' he explained. 'We put two quarts of oil in her car. Her car was worth $1,500 -- tops. Her lawyer said it was our fault she broke down because we were the last ones to look at her car." He continued the story as I popped my hood and got out of the car to check my oil. "She won. I don't know how much -- if it was the whole $10,000 or not. But the boss says we're not in the business of checking oil anymore.' So now we have a mandated-by-law "full service" station with no service." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 3, 2007. Read More »

Recent Sick of Lawsuits Activities

"Rio Grande Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse President Bill Summers authored an op-ed, published in the Valley Morning Star and several other dailies in the area, discussing a cheating husband's recent lawsuit against 1-800 Flowers for sending him a receipt. The man claims that the flower shop is at fault for making his divorce more costly because the receipt made his wife aware of his infidelity. Summers commented, "We need to reacquaint ourselves with personal responsibility. We need to realize that every dilemma or personal disappointment is not fodder for a lawsuit and does not warrant a treasure trove of cash. And that, like it or not, we all must reap what we sow and live with the consequences of our behavior."" Read More »

"West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse swiftly responded to a YouTube video that indicated fraudulent testimony in a medical malpractice case. CALA issued a press release saying the video, which shows the plaintiffs doing activities they testified under oath they could not do after surgeries at Putnam General Hospital, demonstrates the problems in our judicial system. WV CALA Executive Director Steve Cohen said it appears these lawsuits may have been "manufactured for the money," and explained that "lawsuit mills like this seem to be a reason why West Virginia's reputation for legal fairness suffers. The real losers from such potential abuse of the courts are those who truly deserve compensation and a rightful remedy under our state's civil justice system."" News articles appeared in the Charleston Gazette and ran in the Associated Press, publicly exposing the apparent fraud. Read More »

$46 Million: The amount of money three trial lawyers stole from their clients in a Kentucky class action settlement over diet drugs. Louisville Courier-Journal, August 22, 2007.

$1 Million: Cost to Eli Lilly & Co. over the last decade defending against wacky claims brought by one serial pro-se litigant. Forbes, September 3, 2007.

16%: Rate of one New York State doctor's annual medical malpractice premium increase. He is leaving his practice this year. Albany Times Union, August 29, 2007.

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