On October 16, 2009, I posted a blog at this site, decrying the devaluation of human life by corporate interests and in exchange for corporate benefit. "Tort Reform" is a vehicle that seeks to devalue us all by placing business interests ahead of human value. This concept and practice, supported by some private citizens who commented on the article, is a very puzzling phenomenon and one that is endangering all of our civil rights. If we are not careful, we will sacrifice all of our civil rights on the alter of large corporate interest. It will not be pretty.
Once again, I am dismayed at the fact that some Americans so freely link phrases like “tort reform” with “frivolous lawsuits.” Yesterday morning, I read an article reporting that a former Janesville, WI family received a rather sizable award in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Justin and Kara Rutherford had filed the lawsuit accusing two doctors and the hospital of negligence as they mishandled Kara’s labor and delivery, which resulted in a permanent shoulder injury to their son, Jared. As last time I reported on these issues, some citizens commented on the article and their comments cause me to note that a segment of our society does not truly understand what "tort reform" means and how if large corporate interests get their way, how that would impact all of our lives and all of our civil rights. While some commented in support of the Rutherford family and the verdict, others, like in my last report on this topic, were quite negative. Here is one example:
I wonder if the doctors did it on purpose or if it was just a mistake? I know I’ve never made a mistake at work. Knowing this family should get almost a million dollars because child birth should carry zero risks. How much will this cost other parents …oh yeah it will cost $893,684. Tort reform, anyone?
I think $900,000 is more than fair for this kid. Even after the scheister…er lawyer takes their cut, if invested wisely, odds are this will be more than the kid will make in his lifetime even if he can’t work a day in his life. The future value of this amount after compounding interest will provide a well above average wage.
I have a few questions for those who chose to comment in opposition to the verdict: Do you realize by “buying into” tort reform, you are giving up your right to a trial by jury? Would you prefer a jury evaluation of your case or do you want irresponsible corporate interests who put profits ahead of people to decide your fate and the limits of your recovery. You are one unfortunate instant away from being the next accident victim. No one chooses to be maimed, injured or killed in an accident; fate decides these things. What happens if you or someone you love is permanently disabled or killed? Who will support them or their families? Who will pay for their medical or funeral expenses. Who will tend to their daily needs? If we do not hold the person or company that caused the injury, disability or death responsible, you will be responsible! The taxpayers will be responsible! Is that the outcome you desire? That others become responsible for what someone else caused? Do you want to pay for someone else’s negligence? Why should you?
Lawsuits such as this one, make health care professionals act more professionally. Lawsuits ensure safety; they cause people to be more careful. No one I know would ever trade their health or the health of their children for money.
The child in this case is still a toddler; he has significant additional growth and development ahead of him. Will he need ongoing medical treatment and surgery? What if his shoulder does not develop properly and he is disabled in some capacity? What if this happened to your child? What if your child’s physical and mental future was uncertain due to medical negligence?
If something goes wrong in the operating room or the labor room, the professionals, if they were negligent, should be held to a professional standard be held accountable for breaching that standard. A jury should decide, not some corporate interest group. An otherwise excellent driver may one day fail to stop at a red light and slam into someone’s vehicle, leaving a paralyzed victim. Shouldn’t the driver be fully liable? We were not in the court room; we were not in the jury room when they reached their verdict. We were not in the delivery room when Mrs. Rutherford gave birth to Jason. How can so many so casually comment on the result so I can not comment on the events that led to Jason’s injury or the settlement. What I can comment on is the fact that we have a constitutional right to file a lawsuit and hold wrongdoers accountable. We then put our case in the hands of the judge and jury to assess the evidence and determine a verdict they deem fair. Tort reform undermines our rights to hold others accountable for their negligent actions.
Lawsuit Financial encourages everyone to educate themselves on "tort reform" before it is too late to turn back. Contact your Senators and/or congresspeople and tell them that "tort reform" does not belong in health care reform legislation. There should be no "discounts" for human sacrifice or human misery.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello 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.