Wednesday, July 2, 2008

83,000 Versus.................5! What "Lawsuit Crisis?"

Here's a short quiz:
1. 79,000 of these lawsuits were filed in Ohio in 2006, and 83,000 in 2007- What kind were they?

A. Malpractice lawsuits against physicians and hospitals.

B. Products liability cases against manufacturers of consumer products.

C. More spilled hot coffee cases against fast food chains.

D. Foreclosures.

Answer: D

Foreclosures are exploding in Ohio and clogging our courts due to the mortgage crisis and unscrupulous lending practices(otherwise known as corporate greed). Conversely, there were only 348 products liability lawsuits filed in Ohio in 2006 (no, that’s not a typo). And only 3 went to a jury trial. That shockingly low number of products liability suits was not some anomoly. In 2007, THERE WERE 372 PRODUCTS LIABILITY SUITS FILED AND A WHOPPING 5 JURY TRIALS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE STATE! So much for the claim that Ohio corporations are being held economic hostage by scores of product liability lawsuits against product manufacturers.

Yet, business groups like The Chamber of Commerce and others claimed in a series of radio ads last year that Ohio's horrible legal climate is driving businesses out of Ohio (go to to listen to this laughable ad). Why is it laughable? Because The Ohio Legislature granted businesses and The Chamber a wish list of legal "reforms" in 2005 that limit YOUR recovery for things like tainted Chinese toys and food, bad medicines, and any other products that harm Ohioans, no matter where made.

After the reforms passed, Ohio was voted 4th in the country and 1st in the Midwest for having a "great legal climate for business", courtesy of The Pacific Research Institute (go to to read the Institute's report). This "Institute's" Board includes Altria (huge tobacco conglomerate), ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil (Exxon has contributed a meager $445,000 to the Institute since 1998), Microsoft, and other megabusinesses.

Strangely, however, in 2007, two years after The Legislature gave big business all the reforms it wanted, and one year after it's "Fourth Place" ranking, Ohio's legal climate for business somehow dropped to 32nd place in the USA. Why? Because the Chamber's Institute For Legal Reform said so, that's why. And this formed the basis for all those radio ads.

Now, however, we have the true numbers for what is really happening in Ohio regarding lawsuits. And unlike bogus "studies" and cooked position papers from "Institutes" funded by big oil and big tobacco, the numbers show the truth of things. Are we really to believe that less than 400 product liability lawsuits and 3-5 jury trials per year for a state of 11 million people was crippling Ohio businesses and causing massive job losses? Or was the problem EXAGGERATED, perhaps, by big businesses that didn't NEED these reforms, but simply WANTED them from a rubber stamp Ohio legislature to increase their bottom line?

Well, it's been almost 3 years now since big business got its legislative wish list. Is Ohio's economy now booming? And has big oil, one of the biggest lobbies for "tort reform," passed those savings on to you in the form of lower gas prices? To twist a phrase from the movie Jerry McGuire, would somebody please "show me the savings" from all this tort reform???

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