On December 31, 2014, an article published in the Business Section of the Miami Herald, illustrated with chilling clarity the dangers posed by so-called tort reform.
In a nutshell, “tort reform” is the movement supported by right-wing interest groups to block and limit recoveries in personal injury cases. The propaganda disseminated to support these efforts is that most lawsuits are frivolous. Huge sums of money and influence have been invested to make the public believe this nonsense. Sadly, the smear campaign has been successful.
That success spells danger to every member of our society.
The Miami Herald article describes how tort reform has prevented law firms from prosecuting claims against General Motors for accidents caused by defective ignition switches resulting in death and catastrophic injuries. By placing arbitrary caps on the amount of damages that can be awarded for injury or death, rather than allowing a jury to make the determination after considering the evidence, law firms cannot afford to prosecute the claims. Quite simply, the investment in time and money doesn’t make business sense.
The tort deform movement is a national movement. Every state legislature has passed or has attempted to pass laws that limit the amount individuals can recover for their losses.
In my home state of Florida, the legislation has hit especially hard in the area of medical malpractice. Taking its lead from then-Governor Jeb Bush, the Florida Legislature enacted severe limitations on the amount victims can recover in medical malpractice cases. Thankfully, the Florida Supreme Court, in March, 2014, found one provision of the law, that dealing with wrongful death, unconstitutional. In essence, the court found that a task force formed by Jeb Bush fed the legislature bogus evidence to support the push for “reform.” In other words, Bush & Co. decided on an outcome, then created the “facts” to support its position. The Supreme Court decided that this was not kosher.
By limiting the ability of private attorneys to prosecute claims on behalf of aggrieved individuals, Big Business is able to operate with impunity. A business calculation is made that it costs less to pay arbitrarily limited damages than it does to make a product safer.
Without the arbitrary limits, in other words, if Big Business had to pay for the actual harm caused, the calculation would be just the opposite. It would be less costly for Big Business to make a product safer than to pay full freight on claims.
We, the People, should not be put at risk for the sake of profits.
People over Profits!
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.
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