Posts Tagged ‘tort reform’

Today’s Flickr Photo

From the 10/10/10 rally in front of the White House. Flickr photo by 350.Org

If you read one thing today . . .

It seems the civil court system in this country is a lot like our health care system. It might seem like the best in the world until you start examining important details, such as access and affordability. Then it’s a different matter entirely. Dan Froomkin’s piece in the Huffington Post cites a new survey that ranks the U.S. “lowest among 11 developed nations when it comes to providing access to justice to its citizens — and lower than some third-world nations in some categories.” Froomkin writes:

Why haven’t more Americans successfully sued the banks that lured them into fraudulent mortgages, then foreclosed on them without the required paperwork?

It could be because the civil justice system in this country is essentially inaccessible to many Americans — and when it does get accessed, is tilted toward the wealthy and moneyed interests.


David Corn at Mother Jones wonders why Team Obama would have opened up about their failings to New York Times Magazine writer Peter Baker so close to the election. The NYT magazine piece was posted Wednesday and includes choice tidbits, including this from trusted presidential confidant David Axelord:

“Perhaps we were naive,” White House adviser David Axelrod remarked to Baker. “First, [the president’s] always had good relations across party lines. And secondly, I think he believed that in the midst of a crisis you could find partners on the other side of the aisle to help deal with it. I don’t think anyone here expected the degree of partisanship that we confronted.”


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By David Arkush and Christine Hines

Jon Stewart, the popular host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and “America’s most trusted newsman,”  regularly imparts an astute critique of American political affairs and media.

The comic’s recent two-part exchange with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, for instance, elicited – in between the funny jabs – thoughtful, nuanced discussion on policy, politics, and the president. As Daily Show fans though, we cringed a little during his chat with O’Reilly when they briefly discussed so-called “tort reform,” the phrase used by the health industry and big business to advocate taking away your access to the courts

O’Reilly first broached the issue when Stewart was a guest on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor. He complained that President Obama could have worked with Republicans during the health care reform debate by adding “tort reform” to the bill. Stewart shot back that the president said he was willing to compromise on the issue, a priority for Republicans, even though it wouldn’t save much in health care costs. In their second conversation, this time at the Daily Show. Stewart blasted the extent of corruption, in media and finances (financial services?), and then strangely expressed a willingness to offer “right wing tort reform,” as he called it. It wasn’t clear why he mentioned it. Perhaps to suggest he would bargain on the issue in exchange for measures that curb corruption.

We’re with him on the need to end corruption. Government and corporate accountability are at a serious low point; we’ve proposed (more…)

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Remember all the hand-wringing over medical malpractice litigation that opponents of health care reform brought to bear during last winter’s debate? This month’s Health Affairs includes three articles that empirically confirm what common sense told us all along: their claims had nothing to do with reality.

To recap, Republican House leader John Boehner last winter called “medical malpractice and the defensive medicine that doctors practice” the “biggest cost driver” of all in health care. Former House Speaker and 2012 presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich pegged the nation’s bill for “defensive medicine” at $625 billion a year, which is about 180 times the sum of actual medical malpractice payments.

Boehner and Gingrich were careful to tout “defensive medicine” – care rendered out of fear of litigation – because actual litigation costs are universally acknowledged to be tiny in relation to total health care spending – less than 0.6 of 1 percent by our estimate. Defensive medicine cannot be definitively measured. As in Gingrich’s wild estimate, the fear mongers usually rely on (more…)

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This video doesn’t exist

We got a special preview of Susan Saladoff’s excellent new documentary, Hot Coffee, Monday at Public Citizen. The movie opens with a look at the case of Stella Liebeck, who famously sued McDonald’s after she was seriously burned by a 49-cent cup of the fast food chain’s hot coffee. Of course, Liebeck, who was 79 at the time of the accident, became the butt of jokes and her case became a cause célèbre as exhibit #1 of a justice system overrun with frivolous lawsuits.

If a woman could sue McDonald’s for spilling coffee on herself, was there any limit to what the courts might be forced to rule upon? But as Saladoff shows, the punchlines and misinformation put forward by so-called tort “reformers” didn’t begin to tell the story of Stella Liebeck. The facts are that McDonald’s brewed its coffee at 180 degrees, a temperature hot enough to seriously burn anyone who might spill it on themselves. In fact, Liebeck’s injuries were so serious she required skin grafts. And she wasn’t the first person burned by McDonald’s hot coffee — at least 700 others had reported (more…)

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