Friday, October 26, 2007


From Bob Sullivan's "Red Tape Chronicles."

If I told you there was a courtroom in America where consumers lose lawsuits to businesses 94 percent of the time, and there is no chance to appeal, you'd probably never want to go there.
But here's the problem: You don't have a choice, thanks to small print.

While you may have never heard of binding mandatory arbitration, it is part of nearly every significant transaction you engage in now. It's also become a controversial battleground over consumer protection in America, and on Thursday Congress held hearings debating legislation that would largely nullify many arbitration agreements. The hearing came on the heels of a new report that claims to offer a first-ever glimpse into a world that some say has turned Americans’ Constitutional rights on their head.

Story here.

Ed. The really crazy thing is that the banks and other institutions who enforce arbitration clauses when consumers sue them are the same banks and other institutions who are clogging our courts with creditors' collection suits. That ain't right. See my previous blog on 8/31/07, "Debt Collection Suits on The Rise."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tort reform not working? Gosh, who knew?

Good article in the Texas Observer dispels one of the big myths foisted upon Texans by the insurance industry in pushing "tort reform" back in 2003.

Quote: "Proposition 12, and the far-reaching changes in Texas civil law that it dragged behind it, was built on a foundation of mistruths and sketchy assumptions. The number of doctors in the state was not falling, it was steadily rising, according to Texas Medical Board data. There was little statistical evidence showing that frivolous lawsuits were a significant force driving increases in malpractice premiums. Perhaps the most insidious sleight of hand employed by Proposition 12 backers was their repeated insistence that medical malpractice insurance rates were somehow responsible for doctor shortages in rural Texas...The campaign’s promise, that tort reform would cause doctors to begin returning to the state’s sparsely populated regions, has now been tested for four years. It has not proven to be true."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

In Texas, this is worth $250,000

Because of a mislabeled tissue sample that led to a misdiagnosis, Darrie Eason of Long Island, New York had both of her breasts removed to save her from a cancer that she never had. Story here.

Thanks to insurance industry "tort deform" that swept through Texas in 2003, non-economic damages in a medical malpractice suit like Ms. Eason's would be capped at $250,000. That's right: All the pain and suffering, all the disfigurement, all the impairment, all the damage to her marriage, everything, is worth $250,000 tops, thanks to the 2003 Texas Legislature.

Think this is a frivolous lawsuit?