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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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US Chamber's Ridiculous Lawsuit Contest: Not So Funny, After All

4 comments

Each year, the US Chamber of Commerce, hiding behind a website entitled "FacesofLawsuitAbuse.org", runs a phony baloney contest called the "Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of (whatever year was the last one; at present it is) 2011". In this "contest", the Chamber claims that the result comes from a citizen poll and it names a particular lawsuit as its "Most Ridiculous". This year's winner is a lawsuit filed by a kidnapper against his victims, apparently, because they refused to keep a promise to hide him from authorities or some such nonsense.

From any source that features humorous content, this case and, indeed, this yearly contest, might be funny and fun, but the Chamber and this website are not in the business of "funny" or "fun". They are in the business of trampling on our constitutional, 7th Amendment, rights to civil jury trials, the business of using the concept of "frivolous lawsuits" to restrict court access for serious cases, serious injuries, serious consequences, caused by serious corporate misconduct. They are in the business of minimizing consequences for serious misconduct. Hell, if they had their way, a citizen could never sue a corporation!

Because the U.S. Chamber is a corporate lobbying organization, anything that benefits "corporate or business interests" takes precedent over the rights of any individual citizen. "Truth" is irrelevant; "fairness" is irrelevant, "justice" is irrelevant. "Who is right?" and "who is wrong?" does not matter. Nor does "who is the perpetrator?" and "who is the victim?". How serious the consequences to a particular victim or to all of our citizens doesn't matter either. All that matters to the Chamber is that corporate America, big business, gets a free pass to pollute, injure, cheat, lie and steal from our citizens. Bail out a bank? Get foreclosed upon. Make a bad product that seriously hurts people? Restrict recoveries and ridicule the system and victims. Pollute the environment and make everyone sick? Again, restrict court access and attack the victims. Manufacture bad drugs? Seek immunity from the government; pollute the jury pool with false information. Does anyone find any of this "funny"?

So, go ahead and read the case; the concept of a kidnapper suing his victims is quite funny. But read it with the knowledge of the serious purpose for putting the case and the contest out in cyberspace and other media forums. That purpose is to brainwash citizens, potential jurors in serious cases with serious consequences, into believing that the civil justice system is, somehow, unfair to corporate interests. That citizens pursuing litigation and collecting appropriate jury awards for harms caused by corporate wrongdoing should be a restricted activity. That the civil justice system, the greatest of its kind in the world, is broken. That is the purpose of these campaigns. And these corporate interests think that they can persuade you that they are right. And folks, that simply isn't "funny".

Mark M. Bello is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation where he is instrumental in providing cash flow solutions and consulting when necessity of life lawsuit funding is needed during litigation. Mr. Bello has thirty-four years experience as a trial lawyer and 13 years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the litigation funding industry. He is recognized as an expert in this field by ExpertPages.com and ALM Experts. Mr. Bello is a sustaining and Justice PAC member of the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association, Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Member of the American and Michigan Bar Associations, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Member of InjuryBoard, out-of-state member of the Mississippi Association for Justice and a business associate of the Florida Justice Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the Consumer Attorneys of California. His articles have appeared in FindLaw, The West Reporter, The Safety Report, Plaintiff Magazine, Advocate Magazine, and other fine legal publications.

4 Comments

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  1. Avenger says:
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    The lawsuits pointed out in the Faces of Lawsuit Abuse website are real (I have personal knowledge of one of the past cases). Are you defending these suits ? Do these kinds of suits make the tort system more perfect by softening up your adversaries, making them more willing to settle by running up the expense quotient to defend. Is THAT your idea of justice ?

    Apparently so, since you seem to delight in mispresenting the positions of anyone with the temerity to disagree with you. Well I’m sorry but the civil justice system has a lot of flaws needing correction, from arcane concpts such as “comparative negligence” still in use in jurisdictions such as Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and The District of Columbia, to its bastard cousin “joint and several liability” to totally ineffective bar discipline in many states.

    Yes, I think the US Chamber of Commerce goes too far at times, but until such time as the plaintiff bar gets off their high horse, I will continue to cheer them on as the necessary counterweight to protect small and large businesses from the legalized extortion we laughingly call the civil justice system

  2. Mark Bello says:
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    No sir. Not defending them (if real). Nothing in this post comes close to doing that. But, the use of this “contest” and unusual cases to depict a system that is broken, when it is not, is not “funny”. To suggest that cases like this are the “norm, not the exception, is dishonest. To use “funny” cases in an effort to curb the filing of serious cases and limit their results against corporate wrongdoers, is despicable. Do you really read what I write? Do you support adherence to the Constitution, or, simply those provisions and amendments you agree with? I don’t like guns, but we have a Second Amendment in this country. I don’t like certain speech, but I support the First Amendment. I support the police, but not when they abuse the Fourth Amendment. What “tort reform” is about also involves constitutional violations. Both separation of powers and the 7th Amendment are trampled when politicians advance tort reform to curry corporate favor. I am sorry that you have had a bad experience or two, but to use uncommon, “funny”, lawsuits in a dishonest attempt to curb serious ones is conduct that even you should oppose. You and I ALWAYS disagree. I’ve ALWAYS provided you with a forum to do so. I state my positions and argue against yours. When have I EVER misrepresented your view on ANYTHING? But, that is what this “ridiculous” lawsuit contest does. It features the very uncommon and treats it as the common. That depiction is not just intellectually dishonest, it is MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE.

  3. Avenger says:
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    The problem is, Mark, that these “uncommon lawsuits” are not really all that uncommon. Yes, they are extreme exemplars of the problem, but I know many small business men and woman who have been plagued by ridiculous litigation – such as restaurants with old countertops 1/16″ of an inch off ADA “standards” or a golf driving range/baseball batting cage that did not have “enough” handicapped parking spaces.

    I appreciate that you may be one of the honest personal injury attorneys – in fact most personal attorneys are basically honest, but there is a significant minority (I’d say 25% but others would indicate a higher number) that I would not trust to feed my cats.

    Some states do a fine job of bar discipline but there are others do almost nothing. You may be familiar with H.A.L.T. , which is NOT a tort reform group, but a group dedicated to legal reform. Sometimes they verge into the realm of tort reform so to characterize tort reform as all Chamber of Commerce driven is quite misleading. Then again, look at how many so-called consumer groups are basically funded by the trial bar.

    For me, there are only three changes needed in the civil justice reform and not a one has to do with caps or immunities or juries (I’ve served on six juries – four criminal and two civil – and watching a jury work is akin to watching sausages made).

    1) elimination of contributory negligence as an operation doctrine – all jurisdictions should work on a pure comparative basis
    2) elimination of joint and several liability except in siutuations where the culpable party is 75% or more at fault
    3) loser pays

    I would also prefer that judges be elected rather than appointed Yes, some elected judges stink but at least you can get rid of them as they must actively run on their record at election time. Appointed judges with yes/no retention elections are a farce in that judges, unless they get arrested as pedophiles or something similarly egregious, remain too anonymous. Retention elections routinely result in all sitting judges being retained.

    I read many legal blogs including those of many personal injury attorneys. Yours is one of the few on which I would bother to post a comment (along with Eric Turkewitz and Ron Miller). Most of your brethren have blogs that are little more than advertisements and solicitations. Rest assured I read all of your blog entries, even if I do not comment on most of them

  4. Mark Bello says:
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    Again, your response misses the point. We can quarrel over how unusual these (not so) “funny” lawsuits are. We can agree that those who bring them could or should be punished. But to use them as a principal reason why we need, for instance, caps on non economic damages in serious cases, is absurd and dangerously misleading. Why would a “funny”, frivolous, WORTHLESS case need a damages cap? The “joke” is on the paraplegic who sees his damages capped at $250,000. The “joke” is on the taxpayer who, via general assistance, must pick up the tab for the corporate wrongdoer. I’m sorry, Avenger, but the only one laughing is the bailed out corporate CEO, and he is laughing all the way to the bank!