Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Friday Big Picture....

Somehow I was placed on the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce's e-mail list. As some people know, the Chamber hates "trial lawyers" and has spent billions lobbying against any lawsuits filed by injured or ripped off individuals against businesses and corporations. In fact, their mantra on their website is "Jobs, Not Lawsuits." Recently they sent me a link to a poll where readers can vote on the "most ridiculous lawsuits." May's entry was: "Handyman leans ladder against tree branch he’s sawing off, sues employer after resulting injury" (read on to find out more about this doozy of a lawsuit...)

Who is in favor of "frivolous lawsuits?" Nobody, including me. But why does the Chamber lobby so heavily for limits or restrictions on legitimate lawsuits? For example, they are in favor of "caps" or limits on what you can recover if you're sentenced to a wheelchair or a family member is killed due to corporate wrongdoing, preventable medical errors, and a whole host of other shenanigans. Their position on lawsuits can be boiled down to two truths: Your lawsuit as an individual against any corporation? Bad, and we need limits on your recovery. Any corporation suing you or another business for whatever reason? No limits.

Here's the flaw with the Chamber's monolithic stance on lawsuits: every so often, current events shine a spotlight on the hypocrisy of an organization like the Chamber's talking or lobbying points.So let's review what's happened within the last few weeks and see it squares with the Chamber's position:

1. Upper Big Branch mine explosion Twenty nine miners killed or missing and 57 infractions just 1 month before the explosion, including one for failing to develop an adequate ventilation plan;

2. BP Oil Well Explosion--11 workers killed, and thousands of jobs lost in marine and fishing industries too numerous to mention, including the destruction of the Gulf Coast ecosystem for years to come;

3. A New York Hospital that failed to read over 4,000 echocardiograms (heart disease tests) ordered by doctors because nobody bothered to flag the tests for review;

4. A Georgia hospital failed to read over 900 mammograms due to an employee's "failure" to make sure they were read;

5. A Maryland doctor is under federal investigation for allegdly performing over 300 unnecessary cardiac stent procedures.

Goofball lawsuit? Meet mass, horrific, preventable tragedies, inepteitude, and greed. Funny, I searched all over The Chamber's website but could find no mention of any of these recent jaw dropping examples of institutional negligence/recklessness, much less any support for limiting the liability of BP, for example, for its corporate wrongdoing.

Nah--it's too fun and too easy to rail on "Handyman leans ladder against tree branch he’s sawing off, sues employer after resulting injury ." By the way, you can vote for this as the "most ridiculous lawsuit" of the month.

One final note. The "handyman" lawsuit? It was filed in GREAT BRITAIN! Do we need any more proof of how disengenuous the StarChamber is when it comes to this issue?

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