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Subject:  Re: Stossel's a winner, ABC's a loser Date:  7/29/2004  10:47 AM
Author:  RaplhCramden Number:  10151 of 23810

Not a Libertarian folks, just doing the usual drive-by on a post that made the Best Of.

Thanks for the warning! Everybody, get your girl-children behind locked doors, Bonhoeffer's here :)

Moving beyond the particular scenario related by Stossel regarding the cerebral palsey situation, i must confess some apprehension at the rampant "anti-trial lawyer" mania that has gripped much of America in recent years.

I have read a few of Peter Huber's books about Junk Science in the courtroom. A very plausible case is made that
* The rate of production of new vaccines is drastically reduced because vaccines, administered to 100s of millions of people, produce NON-CAUSAL correlations with all sorts of problems that would have arisen among some of those 100 million anyway. For some reason, the tort system is not purusing truth, though, it is pursuing contingency fees, and so cases are fought not on their merit as truth or their merit as public good, but on their merit as plausibly winning a large enough contingency fee to blow away any conceivable costs associated with manufacturing the suit.
* Aspects of airplane and auto safety are degraded since trying anything new, changing anything old, leads to suability
* Beyond vaccines, valuable medicines are removed from the market by what turns out to be spurious suits.

Further, from my own experience, the class action suit industry is pretty much a scam. Piddly little problems are blown up, with a nearly worthless settlement to the injured class, for the purpose of being able to stand before the judge at the end and make a motion for the hundreds of thousands $ or million$ in fees.

Does anyone think people should not be able to sue negligent doctors or giant corporations who maliciously screw innocent consumers? Serious question.

What is the best proposed solution for the perceived harm that these trial lawyers are inflicting on America? Serious question.

I think a major answer to both these questions is "loser pays." IIRC, John Stoessel argues for this often as well. I would also support stronger laws against nonsense suits, IIRC, UK does have such laws, lawyers who bring in something too nonsensical either face criminal or at least severe civil liability.

(A secondary answer is a better legal standard for what constitutes scientific expert testimony.) With loser pays and no other changes, the economics of rolling the dice against the juicy target looks at least twice as bad.

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