It sounds reasonable: “People are suing for crazy-pants reasons! Its out of control and we all pay for it!”. Except its all bullshit.
Pajiba is more of a place for excellent movie reviews than politics, but when they do dive in damned if they don’t get it perfect. On Tort Reform:
Tort reform is a sham, folks. It was something dreamed up by huge billion dollar conglomerates in order to increase their profit margins. Really, all you need to know is that one of the major engineers of tort reform law in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s was Karl Rove. Guess who benefits the most from tort reform? People like Karl Rove. Big oil. Credit card companies, The insurance industry. Tort reform was basically designed to take the jury out of the equation.
Dead on (emphasis mine):
There’s such a huge corporate-funded marketing campaign behind tort reform that few people understand the reality: It mostly benefits corporations at the expense of taking away a jury’s right to make a decision. A jury can still decide if someone can get the death penalty, of course, but apparently, a jury is just too wild and unpredictable to be allowed to decide how much an insurance provider has to pay if 1,000 kids get sick because of lead in toys. They tried to give Stella Liebeck $2.7 million, or two day’s worth of profit on McDonald’s coffee as a message to the restaurant to lower the temperature of its coffee (it has since done so) and to improve the lid design so that even more people don’t end up with severe burns. How unreasonable!
Support for Tort Reform is unapologetic class warfare favoring the corporate class over the rest of us. So how do you respond when your “reasonable” centrist or republican friend brings up tort reform? How do you respond when they complain jury awards are “out of control”?
First – make the above point clear – “How are juries responsible enough to determine the death penalty – but not to determine a fit punishment in a “Company poison’s water” case?”.
Next, you have a few options.
Are you dealing with a numbers person? Go into the incredibly small size of the largest jury awards when compared to actual income for the guilty company. Ask what is going to give a company incentive to stop their criminal behavior if the penalty is small enough to be considered a minor tax increase?
Are they concerned about frequency? Ask what it means for consumer protection in this country if so many companies are successfully sued? Just what the hell is going on here? If they are truly liable for doing this much damage – why the hell aren’t they being regulated more?
Tort Reform opens the discussion to how the American public is largely left unprotected from the abuses of corporations. This is the corporate world’s attempt to strip away even that last remaining shred of protection.