The Wall Street Journal editorializes on the high-flying tort lawyers, crashing into the swamp of corruption:
The barons of the tort bar must have thought 2007 would be a very good year: Some of their biggest cases (Katrina, Enron) were set to pay out, and a Democratic Congress meant no more worries about legal reform. Talk about reversal of fortune: As the year ends, we are witnessing nothing short of the dismantling of what are alleged to be major tort criminal enterprises.
Bill Lerach, the king of class actions, stands disgraced as an admitted felon. His former partners at Milberg Weiss face trial for being part of the same kickback scheme as Lerach. Federal prosecutors continue to pursue a criminal probe into asbestos and silicosis litigation fraud. And now comes the indictment of Mississippi tort legend Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, who is trying to soak insurance companies the way he once did Big Tobacco.
These new bribery charges read like a John Grisham novel — Scruggs and Grisham both being Oxford, MS, denizens — says the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
An entire industry, institutionally undermined by criminality, wrecking the economy while protecting itself through political influence achieved through campaign contributions. And like a John Grisham novel? What an ugly yet media-friendly phenomenon — the perfect state of affairs for congressional investigatory hearings.
2008: The year Congress finally investigated the trial bar.
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