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J. Robert Davis
J. Robert Davis
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Arab Spring in the Middle East? How about tort reform in America?

4 comments

The other day a colleague expressed his dismay when he found out that a potential new client’s father was refusing to allow his daughter to make a legal claim, much less file a lawsuit. Her father did not believe in lawsuits. He was a staunch republican. A conservative. He believed in less government and the Constitution. In his mind, his belief system simply did not comport with the notion of attacking a hard working company through a lawsuit. Heck most people who sue are probably just trying to obtain a windfall. It’s just not the American way- right?

Well, hold on a minute. Is his daughter trying to make a frivolous claim? Let’s examine the basic facts: Daughter is a tender nineteen years of age. Healthy and athletic. A good driver. But through no fault of her own, her Nissan is violently t-boned by a truck who failed to yield. She suffered a fractured vertebrae in her neck at the tender age of nineteen.

Hey Dad, let’s put this lawsuit thing in a perspective maybe even you, a hardcore tort reformer, can understand. Litigation is simply “conflict resolution” or when two parties need a third party to decide who is wrong and apply the appropriate measure of consequences. That sounds a little boring so let’s put it in a historic, global perspective.

We are all acutely aware of the Arab Spring sweeping across the Middle East. The unrelenting reports of defiance, death and loss as Arab citizens defy the absence of fairness, justice and humane treatment by the dictators who rule their countries. They have had enough. But what does Arab Spring have to do with tort reform in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave? The best perspective I can give comes from one of my colleagues, Alex Katzman.

Alex explained it this way, “the Arab Spring that has swept across the Arab countries is a result of a lack of a functioning judicial system. The vegetable vendor that self-immolated did so out of frustration and not having an avenue for redress. He paid for the appropriate licenses and paid the appropriate “bakshish” (bribes) but the police officer confiscated his cart and slapped him across the face”.

Bottom line is a strong judicial system in countries in the midst of revolution such as Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Libya (to name a few) where a law abiding street vendor can have his day in court, and Arab Spring never happens. The USA has a judicial system unlike any other country or civilization in the history of humanity. It sets us apart. It makes us special. We are privileged to have what we have.

To borrow a word from the supreme judicial reformer and ultra conservative Karl Rove, as far as I am concerned you are “un-amurrican” if you bad-mouth or try and tear down our judicial system (his word-my opinion). Dad let your daughter have her day in court.

4 Comments

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  1. Jim says:
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    Mr. Davis, let me congratulate you. This is perhaps the most self-serving and embarrassingly biased piece of nonsense I have read in quite some time. (and given some of you colleague’s writings on this site, this is no small achievement!)

    I’m not quite convinced (is anybody?) of your argument regarding the Arab Spring. Yes, lack of a functioning judicial system is a factor, albiet I think most would agree the most significant deficiencies regarded criminal punishments and recourse, not tort law.

    And let’s not be so quick to dismiss other, vastly much more significant, factors such as: A brutal totalitarian dicator; lack of free speech; a murderous army with little regard for human life; rampant inflation; poverty; unemployment; and generations of oppression.

    I don’t believe these people overthrew their government because they couldn’t find a good personal injury lawyer. And, I think it’s tasteless that you’ve used the suffering of an entire people to justify your propaganda that tort reform would:

    Deny everyone their day in court (really? fear monger much?);

    Lead to an Arab Spring style revolution in America;

    And cause street vendors to immolate themselves (please interpret this as sarcastically as possible)

    Your state passed many tort reforms in 03 and you seem to be doing just fine.

    Keep up the great work!

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    Jim,

    You write, “A brutal totalitarian dicator; lack of free speech; a murderous army with little regard for human life; rampant inflation; poverty; unemployment; and generations of oppression” are the true bases for the Arab Spring. I don’t think anyone would dispute that.

    What I would suggest is that you’re describing a system where the government is run by, and for, a small group, while the general public is “ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like swine and hounds.”

    While you may disagree, it was none other than John Adams who thought that representative government and trial by jury were “the heart and lungs of liberty,” without which there was “no other fortification against” precisely that degrading outcome.

    Food for thought.

  3. Mike Bryant says:
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    It’s an interesting question: does the individual parts of the U S Constitution really make the whole document? Tort reformers love to stand on the document and some how jump off when the 7th is read. I absolutely agree with the point of the blog that you need all of the parts to work together in a fair and just society.

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    Thanks for the comments, gentlemen. The ability to express our opinions, no matter how diverse or unpopular is what makes our country so great!