Lawyers Gone Wild, One Other Thing

By September 14, 2007Briefly Legal

Following up on the summary of the The Examiner’s series, “Lawyers Gone Wild,” we’ll change our mind and post one excerpt, while still encouraging readers to examine the whole thing. It does seem evident that the economic costs of class-action awards have slowed somewhat in the last several years. The newspaper’s assessment? “Little relief: Litigation costs rising as firms face fewer suits”. We share that assessment.

And quote Victor Schwartz of Shook, Hardy and Bacon, a tort reform expert we turn to for perspective.

Greed and self-interest” on the part of some trial lawyers to pursue high-dollar settlements are still very much part of the picture, said Victor Schwartz, general counsel for the American Tort Reform Association. “I want to be very clear here. I’m not saying all. I think most of the trial lawyers act very responsibly. It’s a few that I’m talking about.”

Schwartz condemns class action practitioners, for example, who he says create a media stir by drumming up class action clients against a pharmaceutical company and in so doing create a needless and sometimes harmful atmosphere of fear for people facing serious medical conditions.

“The result is somebody chooses not to use a drug because they read a trial lawyer’s inflammatory story and the best thing they could do is see their doctor, but they drop off using the drug instead,” Schwartz said.

Or, he continued, it’s people who seek redress for afflictions yet to appear, as with lead paint cases that begin with the attorney initiating medical monitoring of potential clients. This backward practice of sue-first-prove-damages-later goes against decades-old law ethics that touted this one simple and logical standard: “The big rule was you had to be hurt before you could get any money,” Schwartz said.

How passe.

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