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Tort System/Civil Justice   

HB 4: Violence to our system of justice. “Ten years later, patients continue to struggle with high cost, low access health care, corporate wrongdoers are allowed to divert and evade responsibility for their actions, and our most vulnerable are acutely impacted by the negative affect of limits on individual legal rights.”

Excerpted: Ten Years Later - How House Bill 4 Has Harmed Texans, a report by the Texas Watch Foundation, August 2013

Common sense: Fewer distractions on the road will ultimately save lives.  "Texas could be among the worst in the country in having motorists run red lights because of distracted driving, according to a new report.”

“A study released Tuesday by the National Coalition for Safer Roads and FocusDriven estimates that there were 7.3 million red light violations nationwide last year because of distracted driving.”

“And a breakdown of the report’s state-by-state figures shows Texas with the second highest rate last year of intersection violations per licensed driver: one such violation for every 25 drivers.“

“All of the findings point to a clear conclusion: distracted driving increases red-light running and puts lives at risks,” the report’s executive summary says. “Fewer distractions on the road will ultimately save lives.”

Texas is one of nine states that doesn’t completely ban texting while driving, although the state does prohibit the activity for school bus drivers and younger motorists. Efforts during this year’s legislative session to enact a complete ban went nowhere.

Excerpted from: Report - Texas could be among nation’s worst in red light violations caused by distracted driving, by Tom Benning, Dallas Morning News 6-11-13

Do as I say – not as I do.  “Almost half of teenagers cop to texting while driving. And those texting teens are more likely to make other risky moves while in the car, too.”

“That includes not wearing seat belts, drinking and driving, and riding with a driver who's been drinking, a just published in the journal Pediatrics finds.”

“The CDC study asked 8,505 students across the country if they had texted while driving during the past 30 days. About 45 percent said yes. Those teens also admitted to more driving while drinking, not wearing seat belts, and riding with drivers who had been drinking than their peers who weren't texting.”

“That may mean there's a big group of risk-taking teenagers whose parents may need to take a different approach to keeping them safe.”

Excerpted from: Teens Who Text And Drive Often Take Other Risks by Nancy Shute, NPR May 13, 2013

Enough is enough.  “Houston will consider an ordinance banning texting while driving if the Legislature again fails to enact a statewide ban, Mayor Annise Parker said…”
“Known as It Can Wait, Houston, the program will use social media, news media and community activism to get the word out, the mayor said.”

“In 2011, she said, 13 percent of more than 3,000 traffic fatalities across Texas could be blamed on texting while driving.”

Excerpted from: Houston considers ban on texting while driving By Carol Christian, Houston Chronicle 4-2-13

Poop deck. “What was supposed to be a four-day vacation cruise became a nightmare aboard "a floating toilet, a floating Petri dish, a floating hell."

“Maritime law experts say passengers waive most legal rights when they buy cruise tickets. The fine print in ticket contracts basically requires any lawsuits be subjected to arbitration in a federal court in Miami.

“What's more, Carnival's ticket contract… shows that passengers waive their rights to a jury trial and to joining in a class-action lawsuit. That means for most potential plaintiffs, the legal costs would exceed any amount they could reasonably hope to recover.”

“… the cruise industry has opted to insulate itself by requiring that passengers sign away their rights before they get onboard.”

“That leaves little recourse if you find yourself standing in human feces, waiting hours for a ration of spoiled food.”

Excerpted from: Column: Cruise passengers are sunk before they ever sue, by Loren Steffy, Houston Chronicle 2-20-13

Taking it back. “AAJ has launched an online, grassroots campaign called “Take Justice Back.” The campaign hit the ground running with an interactive website that educates Americans about the importance of the civil justice system, motivates the public through real stories of people denied justice, engages consumers through social media, and empowers activism.”

Access the website here.

Endorsing bad behavior.  “In June, the Supreme Court issued a split decision that essentially granted immunity to workers' comp insurers in bad faith cases by ruling against…Timothy Ruttiger of Galveston.”

“In 2004, Ruttiger fell while carrying a bundle of electrical conduit for a Galveston supply company. He was scheduled to have hernia surgery…but the day before, his employer's insurer, Texas Mutual Insurance of Austin, canceled the procedure…the adjuster accused him of filing a fraudulent claim and hung up on him, according to the lawsuit.”

“Desperate to pay his bills, Ruttiger eventually settled the case…[and] later filed a bad faith claim…”

“A Houston jury awarded Ruttiger a total of $173,000, including attorney fees and interest. Texas Mutual appealed and lost. It appealed again to the Supreme Court, which reversed the jury's decision.”

“Then, the justices went a step further…they eliminated the provision of Texas' workers' compensation law that allowed workers to claim insurers acted in bad faith.”

“The court's decision was the "height of judicial activism and arrogance," said Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch…The justices essentially endorsed insurers' bad behavior while "injured workers and their families are left holding the bag," Winslow said.”

Excerpted from: Loren Steffy: Lawyer has uphill battle in workers' comp case, Houston Chronicle 9-7-2012.

Be afraid, be very afraid. “In a… late Friday afternoon media dump, the Texas Supreme Court released a series of anti-justice opinions. Among them was a dangerous ruling that gives predator doctors the benefit of the doubt just because they wear white coats and assault their victims in exam rooms.”

“The Court’s opinion in Losaiga v. Cerda requires victims to “conclusively establish” that they were assaulted prior to legal discovery, forcing patients to essentially prove they were assaulted before being allowed to gather evidence or bring their case.”

“This frightening expansion of the law is the latest in a series of opinions…that have dramatically restricted the ability to hold dangerous doctors and health care facilities accountable for claims not related to the medical standard of care…SCOTX has ruled that essentially anything bad that happens in a hospital or doctor’s office is medical malpractice. No matter if it is sexual assault, dangerous working conditions, broken beds, or even spider bites.”

Excerpted from: Release: SCOTX Gives Pedophile Doctors Benefit of the Doubt, Texas Watch 8-31-12

Uncertain Future.  Michelle Gaines was the most popular girl at Palestine High School. The athletic, dark-haired 19-year-old was preparing to head off to Hill College on a soccer scholarship.

Her plans ended on June 11, 2006, when an 18-wheeler hauling an oil rig careened through a red light and crashed into her 2000 Buick.

Now, at the age of 26, Gaines has the mental maturity of a 12-year-old, no short-term memory and no peripheral vision. The former prom queen’s group of friends is long gone.

In 2010, a jury awarded Gaines more than $8 million in damages. The truck’s driver, its owner and another businessman involved with the oil rig were held liable, and the jury agreed with Gaines’ lawyers, who argued that after the accident there was an effort to cover up the businessman’s involvement with bribes and by destroying evidence.

But the state’s 12th Court of Appeals overturned the verdict last year… her future now rests with the Texas Supreme Court, which previously declined to hear the case. They say that if the court does not reconsider, it could set a precedent that allows defendants to avoid responsibility for their actions by destroying evidence and bribing witnesses.

Excerpted from: A Tragic Accident and a Continuing Legal Battle, By Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune 7-29-1

Exactly.  “Vice President Joe Biden told 700 trial lawyers gathered in Chicago Monday he didn’t know what the country would do without them.”

“Man, I don’t know what we’d do without you — who is going to step up and take the case of the little guy who’s getting screwed?” Biden asked the lawyers gathered for the convention of the American Association for Justice…”

Excerpted from: Biden to lawyers here: What would we do without you?, By Abdon M. Pallasch, Chicago Sun Times 8-1-12

Not like any other crime.  “Mr. Sandusky’s trial will focus on alleged abuse that took place between 1994 and 2009. Lawyers have heard from at least one alleged Sandusky victim who can’t sue because he missed the statute of limitations cut off by nine months.”

“Statutes of limitation exist for sound reasons – after the passage of many years evidence can be hard to come by and memory isn’t always reliable. But we can’t treat child abuse exactly like other crimes. We can’t expect an 11-year-old boy to report what was done to him quickly, or even before he turns 23, especially if he has to reckon with a powerful institution—like Penn State, or the Roman Catholic Church—with an interest in covering up possible crimes.”
“A few states are revisiting deadlines for child sex abuse cases.”

Excerpted from: Humiliation, Shame and Fear, by ANDREW ROSENTHAL, New York Times 6-11-12

What's the difference between a light pole and a utility pole?  “Joyce Thompson had just been diagnosed with breast cancer…when her only method of transportation was destroyed.”

“A city light pole fell on her car while it was parked in her driveway.”

“Thompson and her family thought the city would take responsibility for the falling pole…”

“When the city officials made clear they would not take responsibility for the damage to Thompson's Buick Roadmaster, she and her family sought out attorneys…”

[The family] “took the case to court, where the justice of the peace ruled that the city was not liable for the damage. The reason is because lawmakers, as part of the Texas Tort Claims Act, have said that cities are not liable for damage caused while performing certain government functions, such as providing lighting for safety.”

“The pole that fell on the Thompson's car was a light pole and had no utility lines attached to it.”  Excerpted from: City won't pay when poles crash on cars, by Shannon Wolfson, KXAN 5-2-1012

Right before our eyes. “Civil jury trials are becoming rare in Texas.”

“The right to have disputes decided by a panel of fellow citizens is cited in the Declaration of Independence and explicitly confirmed in the constitutions of Texas and the United States.”

“But new statistics show that the right to “trial by jury” is quietly and steadily disappearing thanks to a mixture of tort reform laws and Texas appellate court decisions that have made it more difficult for parties in a lawsuit to have their disputes decided by juries. In addition, lawyers and judges say the expenses of litigation, including discovery and increased attorneys’ fees, have made getting a lawsuit to a jury cost prohibitive.”

“The result is that the system has made it so procedurally and financially onerous that individuals and even many companies can no longer have their peers judge their disputes. Excerpted from: Civil jury trials plummet in Texas, By MARK CURRIDEN (The Texas Lawbook Dallas Morning News 4-3-12.

Truth or fiction? “…pushing out false descriptions of lawsuits intended to outrage the reader or listener have been the cornerstone of the “tort reform” movement for years.”

“It’s not like these PR stunts are any big secret. Even if you haven’t seen Hot Coffee (HBO Signature is showing it again this month…), we know that, a website that debunks urban legends, found that a list of six crazy “real lawsuits” circulating around the Internet since May 2001 was entirely made up….”

“People deserve to know the truth, right? They sure don’t deserve to be played by PR campaigns and lobbying agendas.” Excerpted from: Cooked-Up Lawsuits and the Agenda Behind Them, (Center for Justice & Democracy blog) 1-4-2012

Media Mumbo Jumbo. A new study released today by the national consumer rights organization, Center for Justice & Democracy, finds that news coverage of civil jury verdicts fails to provide an accurate picture of the civil justice system and that certain new media trends are making the situation worse. The study, “Headline Blues: Civil Justice In The Age Of New Media,” follows up on CJ&D’s January 2001 study, Reading Between the Headlines: The Media and Jury Verdicts. That report found the media’s coverage of verdicts to be deeply skewed, fueling common misperceptions that civil juries routinely award plaintiffs eye-popping verdicts for frivolous claims. Headline Blues finds this still to be true but certain new trends are producing even more distorted reporting. Headline Blues: Civil Justice in the Age of New Media, Center for Justice & Democracy, October 19, 2011

What's fair and right. "The problem is that military members and their families aren't allowed to seek the same kind of compensation for egregious harm they could if they were civilians -- even civilians suing the same government employees."

“Congress could make the law clearer about which kinds of suits are allowed and which aren't. By not doing so, lawmakers could be agreeing with a long-standing court precedent -- or avoiding the responsibility of making a difficult choice after thorough and thoughtful debate.”  Excerpted from: Editorial - The right remedy for government negligence, Ft Worth Star Telegram Sept 5, 2011

Exactly.  “A West Virginia judge who helped West Virginia’s Supreme Court hear a recent medical malpractice case is blasting the outcome.”

“First Circuit Judge Ronald Wilson dissented sharply on Friday with last month’s ruling that upholds limits on jury verdicts...”

“His dissent said that the courts should instead be protecting malpractice victims as well as doctors who are overcharged by insurance companies.” Excerpted from: Judge Blasts West Virginia Medical Damages Cap, Insurance Journal 7-25-11

Judicial Triage. “A judge is forced to make a "Sophie's choice" when divvying up damages after a horrendous passenger train crash.”

“It is one of the most interesting and important legal opinions of the year (Chatsworth Metrolink Collision Cases Re: Allocation of Funds) because in it you see the true cost of "tort reform" and, on a larger scale, the real cost of the nation's current crest of corporatism. Here you have innocent victims whose rights and liberties were limited so that corporations could have litigation certainty. Here you have an honorable American judge hamstrung by statute to do right to the litigants before him. Justice in America in tort cases does not have to be, as the judge said, a "Sophie's Choice" Yet in many respects it is.”  Excerpted from: "The Real Victims of 'Tort Reform' by Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic 7-18-11

The Frivolous Lawsuit Fallacy. "Stripped of all their political baggage, the notions that frivolous lawsuits should get kicked out before they cost anyone much money and that those who wrongly drag others into court should bear the financial brunt sound fair and right.”

“But proposals to change Texas' civil justice system aren't ever mainly about fairness and right.”

“They're about money: Who's making it, who's spending it and who's giving it to which candidates.”

“That means less money for trial lawyers…who tend to support Democrats. Republicans, who usually are backed by moneyed business interests, want to make sure they keep the upper hand.”

“Thus, Gov. Rick Perry continues promoting the fallacy that Texas runs amok in frivolous suits and unhinged juries, thereby needing emergency legislation to remain business-friendly.” Excerpted from: Editorial: Tort reform's about money more than fairness, Fort Worth Star Telegram, May 19, 2011

Proceed with prudence. “The Texas House produced a deeply flawed tort reform measure. The Texas Senate has done a good job of cleaning it up.”

“That [House] version of loser pays would mean that even winners could end up paying attorney's fees, and in a big way.”

“The Senate bill generated an unusual consensus of support… Nevertheless, the high court needs to craft its rules with prudence.”

“Limiting lawsuit abuse is a worthy goal. But the justices must also ensure that the fear of economic ruin does not close the doors of Texas justice to people of limited means.” Excerpted: Editorial: Tort reform bill greatly improved, San Antonio Express News 5-26-11

Frivolous Legislation.  “…the Texas House passed a bill that is laughingly called a "loser pays" bill.”

You may think that means that if someone files a frivolous lawsuit, he or she pays the legal fees from the other side. That may be how the bill started out, but it's not how it ended up.

“Perry put this bill (HB 274) on the agenda as an "emergency." Apparently the state's judges don't agree.”

“Four years ago the Baylor Law Review published a survey of the state's 389 district court judges, 78 percent of whom responded. More than 86 percent said they saw no need for more tort reform laws.

“Looking at Harris County statistics, you can see why. Medical malpractice lawsuits fell from 574 in 2002, just before major tort reform went into effect, to 219 last year.” “Some emergency.” Excepted from: 'Loser pays' is false advertising By Rick Casey, Houston Chronicle, May 10, 2011

Straight Talk. “Texans believe in personal responsibility. When you’ve done wrong, you fess up and accept the consequences. Corporations should be no different. They should be held accountable when their actions cause harm to the citizens of this great state.”

“So what has “lawsuit reform” done for Texas? It has crippled our citizens’ constitutional right to trial by jury, just so corporations can protect their bottom line. It’s time we showed some appreciation for working Texans by not using their successes as a means to strip them of their rights.” Excerpted from: Letter-to-Editor: Reform crippled citizens’ rights By Caroline Sellars, Texas Watch Outreach Director, Corpus Christi Caller Times 4-12-11

Our suits are the right thing to do, yours are frivolous.  “In his state of the state address this year {Governor} Perry said that Texas needs a system "in which those who sue and lose are required to pay the court costs and legal expenses of those they sued."

“Is Governor Perry ready to follow his own rule?”

“Over the last year, the Governor, his appointees…have spent tremendous resources fighting the Environmental Protection Agency…In fact, the various suits and maneuvers by Perry…to block enforcement of the EPA’s GHG rule were rejected not once, but four times by more than one court.”

“Maybe we should be asking him if he will guarantee to pay the taxpayers back for the costs of these lawsuits he has lost thus far…” Excerpted from: “Loser Pays” in Texas vs. EPA by Jim Marston, Environmental Defense Fund (blog) 3-11-2011

Righteously litigious dudes… “A new study finds that some of the biggest donors to Texans for Lawsuit Reform - whose agenda is curbing lawsuits against business by injured people -- are themselves pretty active users of the court system. TLR was Texas' biggest political committee in last year's elections…Forty top donors accounted for 81 percent of the group's money in the 2010 election cycle, according to the study by Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit group that tracks campaign contributions.”

“While the group's agenda has been to limit personal-injury lawsuits against business, it generally has not sought to restrict suits filed by businesses themselves.” Excerpted from: Big donors to group limiting lawsuits against business are no stranger to the courts by Wayne Slater, DMN (blog) 2-23-11

English Rule: Appalling the Founding Fathers.  “But we don't have the same moral and legal framework as the rest of the world, and never have. If you told the framers of the Constitution that we're after is to, you know, do something that will be just like Europe, they would have been appalled.” Justice Scalia Quote.  Excerpted from: The full written transcript of Scalia-Breyer debate on foreign law, American University, Jan. 13, 2005

…only when it works.  "There is widespread acceptance of the idea that tort law and insurance are intimately related. The growth of liability insurance permitted the expansion of tort liability through the twentieth century, and the expansion of tort law in turn spurred the further development of liability insurance. The compensation objective of tort would not be served without the presence of insurance. First-party insurance obviates the need for tort in some circumstances and, through the collateral source rule, effectively funds contingent fees in other circumstances. And so on.”

“All of these ideas are based on the assumption that insurance works—that companies assess risks, insureds purchase policies against those risks, and the companies pay claims that are within coverage. Unfortunately, the facts about insurance are increasingly at odds with this assumption. Most companies pay out most claims most of the time, of course. But more and more, insurance companies deny valid claims in whole or part and force policyholders and tort victims to litigation to obtain the benefits to which they are entitled.”
Excerpted from: Guest Blogger Jay Feinman: Tort Law and the New Economics of Insurance (Jay Feinman is a  Distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers-Camden), TortProf Blog November 1, 2010

Torture chamber. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is mounting a new legal attack on the Obama administration's regulatory…”

“Thomas Donohue, the chamber's president and chief executive, said…’Litigation is one of our most powerful tools for making sure that federal agencies follow the law and are held accountable…”

“The group on Thursday unveiled a new publicity drive with a strong anti-regulation theme, which is designed to complement its legal fight to blunt regulation.”

“…the chamber has been sharpening its knives to attack the administration's efforts to tighten oversight of health insurers, the financial industry, and greenhouse gases.”
Excerpted from: U.S. Chamber Pledges to Take Obama Policies to Court by Mark Hosenball, Reuters 10-7-10

What would Judge Roy Bean do?  “…our Texas Supreme Court more and more has demonstrated its contempt…for the judgment of citizens who hear the… facts related to legal disputes…In the recent case of Bennett v. Reynolds, eight…judges have sided with the judgment of their own over that of citizen jurors, all to the benefit of a cattle thief.”

“This Wild West story began in San Saba County where several of Mr. Reynolds’ cattle wandered over the line onto property belonging to a corporation run by Thomas O. Bennett, Jr.  Mr. Bennett directed employees…to gather up Mr. Reynolds’ cattle, take them to auction and sell them.

“The jury heard all of Mr. Bennett’s despicable conduct…they resorted to punishing Bennett and his corporation to the tune of $1,250,000 in punitive damages.”

“…Bennett promptly appealed to the Court of Appeals which dutifully upheld the judgment of the jurors and trial court.…Bennett appealed to our Texas Supreme Court.”

“After some mouthing about how Texas really didn’t like cattle rustlers, they [Texas Supreme Court] proceeded to reverse the jury verdict...  In effect, they let the cattle thief off the hook. Who would have thought it? A Texas high court deciding with the cattle rustlers against twelve jurors, tried and true!”
Excerpted from: Senator Carl Parker: The Texas Supreme Court Sides with Cattle Rustlers Over Jurors, Carl Parkerisms Blog, August 12, 2010

Run it, break it, fix it.

  "A confidential survey of workers [commissioned by Transocean] on the Deepwater Horizon...before the oil rig exploded showed that many…were concerned about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems.

…workers said that…they “often saw unsafe behaviors on the rig.”

"Some workers also voiced concerns about poor equipment reliability, “which they believed was as a result of drilling priorities taking precedence over planned maintenance …
“Run it, break it, fix it,” another worker said. “That’s how they work.”

"Only about half of the workers interviewed said they felt they could report actions leading to a potentially “risky” situation without reprisal."
“This fear was seen to be driven by decisions made in Houston…”

“The company is always using fear tactics,” another worker said. “All these games and your mind gets tired.”
Excerpted from: Workers on Doomed Rig Voiced Concern About Safety By IAN URBINA,
New York Times 7-20-10

Defining legitimate.  “If BP had not voluntarily agreed to pay compensation for purely economic losses, victims who were fortunate enough to avoid personal injury or property damage may have been out of luck in seeking redress in court. They would have to show much more than that BP was negligent in its operations.”

“Indeed, plaintiffs would have to grapple with restrictive notions of proximate causation and well entrenched rules that limit recovery for negligent interference with prospectively advantageous relationships. Whether purely economic losses were compensated could have had less to do with what the law requires than with bad publicity, good trial lawyering, political pressure and corporate responsibility. This is what lurks behind the word "legitimate."
Excerpted from: OP-ED - Tort laws would make it hard to win relief from BP by VINCENT R. JOHNSON, (Johnson is a professor at St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio), Houston Chronicle 6-20-10

Less risky in hindsight. “A trial judge should not have cut the contingency fee in a personal injury case from $6 million to $600,000, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held this week.”

“The reduction in attorneys’ fees “was much too steep a decrease,” Wilkinson wrote [Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote for the 4th Circuit panel], remanding the case to the federal court in Raleigh, N.C.”

“Successful outcomes often make risks seem less risky in hindsight than they were at the time, and the court should not have ignored those risks merely because at some later point in litigation the defendant found it in its interest to settle,” the opinion said.”
Excerpted from: 4th Circuit: Judge erred in slashing contingency fee, Baltimore Daily Record by Alan Cooper, May 19, 2010.

Baiting-and-switching. “The Toyota situation should be a wake-up call for Texas policymakers: The decades-long campaign by insurance companies and multinational corporations to shift responsibility for consumer protection away from independent judges and common-sense juries…has put families at risk in their workplaces, on the highways and in our healthcare system”.

“…when patients' legal rights were severely restricted…by the [Texas]Legislature in 2003, an office of patient protection was created. It was a bait-and-switch. The agency's funding never materialized, and two years later the office was shut down entirely before it ever had a chance to help a single patient”.
Excerpted from: Op-ed - Texas must stop protecting public safety on the cheap by N. Alex Winslow (Texas Watch), Fort Worth Star Telegram 3-11-10

Well Said. “…let's all stipulate that "tort reform" is one of the most blatantly anti-democrat concepts to have hit the legal system in the past century. It takes control over damage awards in many civil cases away from local judges and juries and gives them to state politicians, who often are just shills for their corporate campaign contributors and lobbyists. It protects corporations from punishment for their worst excesses. It diminishes good incentives for corporate carefulness and increases bad incentives for shoddy work and services.“
Excerpted from: Tort Reform Is Anti-Democratic (And Ingeniously Marketed) by Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic 2-10-10

Deplorable Methodology "In 1998, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce... created what it calls its "Institute for Legal Reform" (ILR) to pursue the Chamber's agenda of protecting corporations from liability. In pursuit of this agenda, the Chamber publishes a Survey of State Liability, an annual "ranking" of states that criticizes certain state business climates based on nothing more than some corporate lawyers' views of a state's legal system."

"...Theodore Eisenberg, Professor of Law and Statistical Sciences at Cornell University, concludes, "The Chamber's willingness to vilify states and counties to promote both itself and legislation may be the product of the same mentality that has led to shocking business failures."
Excerpted from: New Empirical Analysis - U.S. Chamber for Commerce Liability Survey: INACCURATE, UNFAIR AND BAD FOR BUSINESS, Center for Justice & Democracy, 9-29-09

Small-business owners don't lose sleep over frivolous lawsuits. "Still, research by legal reform advocates suggests that most small-business owners don't lose sleep over frivolous lawsuits. A survey released in May by the Institute for Legal Reform found that more than half of small-business owners said they were "not too concerned" or "not at all concerned" about getting sued, and in 2006 members of the National Association of Manufacturers ranked fear of litigation last on a list of 10 factors hurting their businesses."
Excerpt: After the $54M Dry Cleaner Lawsuit,, July 9, 2007.

Just the facts. "Plaintiffs won in more than half of state court civil trials in 2005 and were more likely to get a favorable verdict in bench than jury trials, according to a new U.S. Department of Justice report."

"The report was released Tuesday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice. The study is the first nationally representative measure of general civil bench and jury trials in state courts".

"Out of the 14,000 civil trials that went in the plaintiffs' favor, punitive damages were awarded in about 5 percent of the cases, with $64,000 as the median punitive damages award".

"The report also pointed to a major drop in the number of civil trials, with numbers decreasing by 52 percent from 1992 to 2005 in the nation's 75 most populous counties. In these counties, the median final award also decreased, from $72,000 in 1992, to $43,000 in 2005".
Excerpted from: DOJ Study: Plaintiffs Win More Than Half of State Court Civil Trials by Vesna Jaksic, National Law Journal, 1.0-30-08

But your honor, they don't like us. "A widely watched trial over Chevron's Nigerian operations featured a new online frontier Monday in the battle to influence the hearts and minds of potential jurors. "

"While imposing a general gag order, Northern District of CA Judge Susan Illston ordered Chevron to take down a paid Google link sponsored by the company... which directed Internet surfers to a Chevron-created Web site that provided information about the incident at issue in trial."

"The company placed the link to appear when anyone Googled the name of the lead plaintiff, Larry Bowoto, plaintiffs argued."

"...[the] defense attorney...defended the sponsorship, pointing out that nine of the first 10 Google search results for the lead plaintiff's name produced Web pages friendly to Bowoto. "Are they sponsored links?" Illston asked."

[the defense attorney] said he didn't think so, and the judge indicated that that's what concerned her.

"To me, that's as sure a thing as giving a statement to the press," [Liston said. When [defense attorney] responded that Chevron was "way behind," the judge cut him off."

"Way behind in fighting the case in the press? We're not going to fight the case in the press," she said... "
Excerpted from: Judge: Chevron Must Remove Paid Google Link Tied to Search of Plaintiff's Name by Dan Levine, The Recorder, 10-28-08

Hmmm...TTLA 2003: "Tort Reform" hurts women, children and the elderly. Emory University School of Law 2007 "Tort Reform" hurts women, children and the elderly. "The results from our empirical analysis are consistent with our theoretical predictions. We find that the impact of tort reform varies substantially among demographic groups. When we consider the net effect of all the reforms in our study together, our results suggest that women, children, and the elderly do not enjoy tort reform's benefits as much as men and middle-aged people. In fact, they might even be harmed by reform".
Excerpted from: Shepherd, Joanna and Rubin, Paul H.,
The Demographics of Tort Reform (November 2007). Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 07-17