Monday, December 21, 2009

Is that your Cell Phone in Your Pocket or Are You Just Trying to Sue Me?

(This article first appeared at The American Thinker on 12/20/2009.)
As the cost of supporting Democrat candidates for public office continues to skyrocket, the tort lawyers of America continue their search for vulnerable corporations with deep pockets to harass, intimidate and plunder. Sounds like a good name for a tort law firm. The concept of deep pockets is summed up nicely on Wikpedia:
"In the context of a lawsuit, the deep pocket is often the target defendant, even when the true (moral) culpability is with another party because the deep pocket has money to pay a verdict. For example, a lawyer may comment that he or she sued the manufacturer of a product rather than the seller because it is the deep pocket, meaning it has more money than the seller with which to compensate the victim."The latest target of greedy lawyers hankering for cash? Cell phone service providers:
"We all know it's dangerous to be driving a car while talking on a handheld cell phone or texting someone, right? It's the driver's fault for driving distracted and causing a collision. Bizarrely enough, certain trial lawyers might disagree with you. The finger is now being pointed not at the negligent driver, but at his cell phone carrier and manufacturer. Wireless companies appear to be the new tort target for not telling people what we all already know: driving while distracted is unsafe."For some reason, going after the errant drivers and their insurance carriers provides an insufficiently cash-rich target for the Friends of Nancy, Harry and Barack. While the pettifoggers have feasted on the carcass of the federal tobacco settlement, asbestos-liability suits and regular infusions of medical malpractice windfalls, tort pleaders remain the fixers for the Democrat party's insatiable addiction to increasing its power base. Democrats have for decades been locked in a symbiotic embrace with the tort lawyers consortium, with the shysters providing huge sums in campaign contributions and soft-money while the Donkey party labors feverishly to help government maintain its "hand's free" approach to any effort at tort reform:
"An estimated 50 cents of every dollar awarded to tort plaintiffs gets eaten up by lawyers and courts-and a great deal of that money ends up benefiting Democratic candidates. Over the last decade, the legal profession has led all other groups in campaign contributions-giving a total of $357 million to federal candidates-and 70 percent of its cash goes to Democrats. The 56,000-member Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) was the top PAC contributor to Democratic federal candidates in the last election cycle; the organization spent $2.6 million, 86 percent of which went to Democrats....(in addition) trial lawyers ...contributed $14.5 million in soft money to Democrats last year."While the 1998 federal tobacco settlement continues to be an enormous source of filthy lucre for the tort-creeps ($3-5 billion annually for the next 25 years), you might have noticed the hush that falls upon your elected representative whenever the concept of tort reform slips into discourse regarding health care reform. While the cash-cow of medical malpractice suits may add up to $100 million annually to the cost of American health care, this apparently isn't enough to get either party fired up enough to include the concept of tort reform in any of the health care bills being currently proposed. While Republicans have shown some interest in enacting tort reform, the weakness of their position in the 2008 Congress has made any serious pursuit of that reform a moot point.And now an enterprising Oklahoma City law firm has put together a civil suit in a wrongful death case against a driver who was arrested for driving while dialing:
"The New York Times recently reported on the tragic death of a woman in Oklahoma City due to a car collision with a distracted driver who ran a red light at 45 miles-per-hour. The distracted driver was talking on his cell phone when his truck slammed into the victim's SUV in the middle of an intersection. With the endorsement of a forgiving victim's daughter, a judge sentenced the guilt-ridden driver to probation. But just this fall, the same victim's daughter filed a civil lawsuit against the distracted driver's cell phone manufacturer and wireless carrier. So the novel legal theory goes: the wireless companies have a special duty to adequately warn people that driving while talking or texting with a handheld cell phone is unsafe. In this case, lawyers are apparently claiming it wasn't enough that warnings were printed in the cell phone's user manual. (The distracted driver admits to never having read it.)" (ibid Seth Cooper)Perhaps Congress can mandate that a warning label the size of those sunscreens that cover the windshield be affixed to each cell-phone to prevent additional mayhem from distracted mouth-breathers who can't remember to drive now and dial later. It's more likely thatCongress will look the other way as the vulpine tort lawyers continue to guard the American jurisprudential henhouse.

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