Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tort reform? Let's cover all the bases

Many are calling for tort reform, meaning that judgments against corporations should be limited in what is payed to individuals.  However, there are three other kinds of tort cases - corporations vs. corporations, corporations vs. individuals, and individuals vs. individuals.

The amounts that corporations ask against each other dwarf by a couple orders of magnitude the amounts that individuals ask against corporations - billions against millions or less.  The amounts that corporations ask against individual often exceed the individuals ability to pay.  And suits of individuals against individuals are often settled in small claims court (or by Judge Judy).

The judgments against corporations in favor of individuals are not completely paid to the individuals.  Yep, much of the money goes to "greedy trial lawyers".  But why otherwise?  Many suits against corporations are done on a contingency basis; that is, the lawyers only get paid if the judgment is made in favor of their client.  On the other hand, many corporations have deep enough pockets to hire legal firms outright on an hourly basis, both for court time and research.  Aren't the trial lawyers for corporations as greedy as the lawyers working for individuals?  Isn't one of the reasons for a democratic government to give the Davids a chance against the Goliaths?