I ate my wafer...



Congratulations to Sam on accepting the U of V position!

Hints to British protesters: You need a bigger banner, and your odds of getting caught go down at night. Heck the "No blood for oil" and Pirate Flags were both queen sized bed sheets, and the real protesters use a dinky little sign.

Interesting, though somewhat shaky article in the current Hillsdale Imprimis: "The Threat from Lawyers is No Joke". I agree that trial lawyers tend to be scum.

A. However, Mr. Barber doesn't seen to differentiate between cases that are frivolous and unsuccessful and lawsuits that are frivolous and successful. That is, as far as I know, lawsuits against fast food restaurants have not been successful, I can find NO case law indicating that.

B. Mr. Barber bemoans both a falling away from our historical legal system and the historically more difficult rules of discovery. The amusing part is that he also suggests that America should move to a "loser pays" model. Contradictory goals in that the "America rule" of each party generally paying their own fees IS our traditional system of litigation. Also, we actually use a mixed system of financing litigation, typically in order to punish frivolous appeals, bad attorney behavior, etc. We also award attorneys fees specifically to encourage certain discrimination lawsuits, such as 1983 and Fair Housing Act claims.

C. His claim that the tobacco settlement amounts to tax on cigarettes is pretty silly. For a quick example, RJR can raise its share of the settlement without even thinking about changing cigarette prices. The tobacco companies really don't care that much about the domestic American market anymore: Phillip Morris made $6.5 Billion in profit in 1998, with $5 billion from international sales. Do you think they need to raise taxes on cigarettes to generate their share of the combined total of approximately $8 billion a year? If anything the big scandal about the settlement is that the state governments are misusing the funds, with only about 5% going to the appropriate educational programs.

Overall, I agree that at the state level, especially in certain states, there is a need for better malpractice caps, and other similar restrictions. However, scuzzy lawyers aren't exactly a novelty, dating back at least to the Norman Conquest, and the "crisis" in frivolous litigation reached its peak before the 1980's tort reforms.