Various corporate and political interests like to claim that many lawsuits are both frivolous and a scourge on America.
They claim these suits are brought by “ambulance chasing” lawyers making false claims simply to make a buck.
These same “interests” claim that “frivolous” lawsuits are costly, that they’re destroying the American way of life, and that they’re reason to reform the legal system.
To be clear, by “reform” they mean reducing or eliminating class-action lawsuits in general and personal injury lawsuits in particular – among other things.
In other words – these folks would like to see what is called tort law reform or tort law restrictions (tort law is the area of law that protects people from bad acts of others). Put another way – they would like to see access to the courts limited as much as possible for consumers who have been harmed by the actions of another.
But are these alleged frivolous lawsuits a real thing?
To find the answer to that question – one needs to understand how tort law works.
First – in tort cases, judges have the power to throw out frivolous cases well before trial.
Secondly, lawyers in tort cases are paid on a contingent fee basis. They only get paid if dollars are recovered from the wrongdoer. Would lawyers really file a case that he or she knows will be lost, spending months (in many cases, years) and financial resources on a case, only to receive no fee?
The answer is – they wouldn’t. And they don’t.
So how do corporations and politicians get away with the claim?
They succeed because they repeat the claim over and over again.
Because if tort law can be limited in scope – if consumer access to the courts for the righting of wrongs can be restricted – bad corporate decisions can then be shielded from public scrutiny.
And when corporate mistakes are hidden from view – corporate profits rise, even while millions of Americans are exposed to dangerous products, dangerous practices, and harm from others.