I came across this ridiculous post in a rag called the "Daily Pilot". The post is about ‘lawsuit abuse’ and references a report by the California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, you know, that unbiased, chamber of commerce and big insurance backed organization, that "serves as a watchdog to challenge the abuse of our civil justice system" (quoted from their website). The report is about a lawsuit allegedly filed in San Diego by a woman named Janine Sugawara, who sued PepsiCo Inc. because Cap’n Crunch’s “crunchberries” cereal, wait for it… doesn’t have real fruit in it.
Now, the regional director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, a lady by the name of Maryann Maloney Marino, told the blogger that she sent out the release, of course, as some sort of public service (isn’t that always why they do it?), to make the point about how necessary tort reform is. The post points out that:
her organization just craves legislative solutions that will discourage such abuses of the system.
“A few years ago there was the case of the guacamole not being green enough,” Marino said… “While cases like that are funny, in this economy they can cost jobs. All the settlement money they pay out could cost someone’s job… that’s why we try to bring it to the forefront.”
I am sure that California’s current economic nightmare is the result of all of these frivolous lawsuit over what shade of green your guac is or whether your cereal has real berries in it. Millions of dollars has, no doubt, been paid out in such matters. Well, Ms. Marino, "while cases like that" may be funny to you, they are not funny at all, to me. If they are legitimate lawsuits (and most of those reported by "stop lawsuit abuse" groups are not), there are already safeguards in place, in the civil justice system, to weed out frivolity. You see, judges have the power to dismiss frivolous litigation and fine lawyers who file them. Let me say that again, real loud:
JUDGES HAVE THE POWER TO DISMISS FRIVOLOUS LITIGATION AND FINE LAWYERS WHO
The article is humerous; it is well written by someone named Paul Anderson. I have no personal axe to grind with Mr. Anderson except to tell him to wake up and smell the McDonald’s coffee (another infamous case which, of course, made its way into his post). California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse does not exist to challenge the real abuses of our civil justice system. If it did, it would champion a person’s unbridled right to pursue justice, people over profit, safety over carelessness, responsibility over irresponsibility, good conduct over misconduct. It would zealously guard the right of every citizen to address civil abuses in court, the place where safety is assured by holding those responsible, accountable.
"Lawsuit Abuse" reformers are not about protecting against frivolity; they are about restricting citizen access to address serious breaches in safety, trust, responsibility, and conduct, and, further, when access is granted, to limit recoveries for serious breaches to pennies on the dollar. Why? To protect corporate and insurance industry profits at the expense of the injured and disabled, one of the weakest segments of our society. Do you want proof that what I am saying is true? Ask yourself (or any tort reform advocate) why the discussion of tort reform always includes a discussion of caps on damages. Why do we need caps on damages if a lawsuit is ‘frivolous’? A ‘frivolous’ lawsuit, by definition, is one that should never have been brought in the first place; a ‘frivolous’ lawsuit will, probably, be dismissed, at the first opportunity, by the presiding judge. If tort reform legislation was ever about stopping frivolous lawsuits and fining the lawyers who bring them, I would support it. But, my fellow citizens, tort reform is never about those types of lawsuits!
Tort reform is about restricting people with serious injuries from serious breaches of conduct from getting serious compensation for their injuries and disabilities! It is about insurance companies limiting their exposure to amounts far too low to cover an injured person’s medical, wage and assistance needs. It is welfare for corporate interests at the expense of the public. ‘Did he say at the expense of the public?’ Indeed I did. If wrongdoers and their private insurance carriers aren’t held fully accountable for a person’s injuries or disabilities caused by the wrongdoer’s negligence, the taxpayers will pay the bill in the form of public assistance. If you think the banking bailout is a bad thing, how can you stand by, year after year, state after state, and watch your civil rights be taken from you, year after year, state after state. Wake up America! And declare war on "tort reform" and its supporters.
Lawsuit Financial implores you to get involved in this fight for justice. Support your local civil justice advocates or your state associations for justice. Call, write, email your state and federal representatives and senators; tell them that you want to see wrongdoers held accountable for safety violations and the damages they cause, to the fullest extent possible. If you don’t know where to start or what to do, send an email to or call the InjuryBoard.com offices, or call Lawsuit Financial at 1-877-377-SUIT (7848). Lawsuits hold wrongdoers accountable. They make us all safer. It is as simple as that. Don’t be distracted by nonsense about guac, cereal or hot coffee. Having your rights systematically taken away is not a whimsical discussion; it is a serious one. These ‘tort reformers’ are laughing all right; but, they are not laughing with you, they are laughing at you, all the way to the bank.
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.