Tonight begins the solemn, reflective Jewish "holiday" of Yom Kippur; it is the Day of Atonement for millions of Jewish people all over the U.S. and the world. Last year, at this time, I posted a blog suggesting that big business and the US Chamber repent for their sins and change their ways. They didn’t heed the advice at all, so I decided to re-post my "top ten list" of things that big business and the Chamber should repent for. And…may God have mercy on their souls…..
This is a day for personal reflection; Jews fast for 24 hours and attend services asking God to forgive our sins from last year to this one. We request a "clean slate" for sins committed over the past year. But, in order to be completely forgiven for sins against God, a person (or entity) must first seek forgiveness from any person he/she has sinned against. You see, Yom Kippur prayers for forgiveness will not excuse sins between Man and God unless we first seek absolution from the person or persons we have sinned against. As I reflect on this day, I note that, last year at this time, I challenged the champions of the so-called "tort reform" movement (big insurance, big pharmaceutical, big tobacco, and the US Chamber) to change their ways and seek forgiveness. They have done nothing to change and have even more to atone for. So, here, again, are my top ten sins (with appropriate biblical reference) that the US Chamber, big insurance, big pharma and big tobacco should atone for:
1. "We have sinned…by hardening our hearts". You have been absolutely guilty of putting profits ahead of people. You seem to have the country’s hardest hearts. Your anti-justice reform campaigns attack injury victims, claiming that an out-of-control legal system benefits victims, unfairly. As a result of this effort, the injured and disabled have been undercompensated and must turn to the taxpayer for relief that shoud have been available to them in a legitimate lawsuit or through insurance coverage you refused to provide.
2. "We have sinned…by slander". You have slandered trial lawyers, using words and phrases like "greedy", "jackpot justice", "lawsuit abuse", "junk", and "frivolous" to describe the serious injury, legitimate lawsuits being brought on behalf of the injured and disabled, those unfortunate souls who lost their good health from being harmed by another’s negligence. Trial lawyers advance the services and the costs of litigation without immediate compensation, relying on the results of the lawsuit for repayment of their costs and fees. If the lawsuit was "junk", "abuse", or "frivolous", the lawyer and his/her client would collect nothing and there would be no "jackpot". This is a slanderous campaign for the sole purpose of putting profits over people.
3. "We have sinned…by practicing deceit". You have repeatedly lied to the American public in your deceitful campaign for caps on damages awarded in litigation. I have often called it the "big lie" of tort reform. Your concept is that we need caps on damages to reduce the amount of "frivolous cases" being brought by the ‘wicked’ trial lawyers. In truth, if a lawsuit was "frivolous", we would not need a damage cap because worthless lawsuits get dismissed (with costs to the attorney who brings them) by serious judges, who have no time or patience for them. It is not the goal of you, the tort reformers, to prevent the filing of frivolous lawsuits; you want to cap serious ones, keep the billions in profits you receive by lying to the public, then let the public (taxpayer) provide for the victims by means of public assistance. And these are risks and claims that you, the insurance companies, were paid billions in premiums to insure against. What did the public pay to insure these risks? Absolutely nothing.
4. "We have sinned…by bribery". All of you contribute heavily to the campaigns of those who support your distorted views of legal reform. You seek to reshape and distort the issues, penalizing the injured and disabled, by throwing money at all three branches of government; recently, you have targeted local judicial races, in essence, "buying" the anti-justice results they seek.
5. "We have sinned…by perverting justice". Your activities have, absolutely, perverted justice due millions of litigants in your various campaigns to puts profits over people. Capping damages at artificially low numbers deprive seriously injured, sometimes catastrophically injured, people from damages that are necessary to sustain a substandard quality of life. Damages for medical expenses, past and future, rehabilitation, employment retraining, household help, orthopedic appliances, home modifications, daycare, pain & suffering are all limited because of these anti-justice activities. Who picks up the tab that you should have paid for out of the immense profits you received? The taxpayer, that’s who.
6. "We have sinned…by causeless hatred." What did the injured and disabled ever do to you to cause such hatred? They worked, paid their taxes and their insurance premiums, just like most Americans. Maybe they got into a bad accident; maybe they went to the wrong doctor; maybe they took the wrong prescription medicine. Whatever it was that changed their lives, it put them in a situation where they required assistance. You provided the goods or services that harmed them, you insured the risk. They should hate you for it, but they don’t. Instead, they seek simple justice. Why do you hate them for it? Why do you engage in endless deceit to deprive them of this justice?
7. "We have sinned…by confusion of values". Maybe you have lost your way. Maybe you are confused. There is still an opportunity to return to integrity. Do you intend to deliberately lie to the American people? Do you really wish to deprive coverage to those whose premiums made you wealthy? Were the dangerous drugs you marketed at significant profit really worth the money against the risk of life?
8. "We have sinned…by being stubborn". You know that your conduct is innappropriate. You know you are hurting innocent people who have already been catatrophically hurt. But, are you just too stubborn to admit it and turn to more honest business practices?
9. "We have sinned….by committing inequity". You have substantial power; you have huge assets. You have used this power and money to create a serious inquity in the legal system. You "delay, deny, confuse and refuse". Then, even when a plaintiff wins an award that represents fair compensation, he/she does not receive that compensation; he/she receives the "capped" award. And when inadequate compensation runs out, are you there to provide additional comfort or compensation? No, that burden falls on the taxpayer.
10. "We have sinned…by transgression; we have sinned…by oppression". Your transgressions have seriously oppressed an already oppressed group of people, the injured and disabled. Your behavior has victimized them a second time. They have been deprived of their physical health and, as a result, their financial health, as well. The legal system had checks and balances to make sure that justice pursued is fair justice, but you have corrupted that system and stacked it in your favor. An appropriate legal outcome would have provided, at the very least, appropriate financial support for the injured or disabled victim, but you have prevented that with your "tort reform". As a result, physical health and financial health cannot be restored and those injured, maimed, disabled and disfigured will be oppressed, physically and financially, for the rest of their lives.
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.