Tort Reform Eases Burden on Taxpayers, Too

By July 27, 2007Briefly Legal

It’s not only business owners who suffer the consequences of excessive lawsuits, frivolous litigation and “jackpot justice,” you know. From the Los Angeles Daily News:

Los Angeles county and city lawsuit settlements, verdicts and outside counsel have cost taxpayers more than $209 million in the last two years, according to a report released Thursday.

The report California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse said reasons for the settlements range from slip-and-fall accidents on public property to employment-related lawsuits.

“These funds could be going to much more important things like our sheriffs, police officers and firefighters,” said Peter Bylsma, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the nonprofit tort reform group.

The California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse have made the report available here as a .pdf file. The report is especially timely, given some of the odd developments going on in Los Angeles County.

The report comes as members of the county Board of Supervisors question a decision by County Counsel Ray Fortner to stop releasing details about legal settlements.

Fortner’s decision came after attorneys suing the county discovered the documents online and began using the information as leverage during settlement negotiations.

Not quite sure what to make of this. Obviously you don’t want to be revealing your legal negotiating strategies in public; most open meetings and open records laws include an exemption for precisely that. But completed settlements? Taxpayers have the right to know.

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