If the last two years and the tanking economy has not shown us anything, it has shown us that unrestricted and poorly regulated greed knows no bounds with the consumers being those pilfered by the like of AIG Insurance, banks going down, borrowing from China, and now Goldman Sachs selling mortgages and then hedging their bets with hedge funds so that they could make money on their insider information.
And the recent mining disaster in W. Va. has shown what lack of regulation, frivolous appeals, and short cuts can do to the lives and safety or the American worker and the loss of loved ones and the after-effects on the families. Don Blankenship and Massie Energy's corporate greed put miners at risk, and some say killed them. See, Judicial Politics, Big Bucks, and Blankenship - a recipe for disaster
With that said, is the Chamber to be trusted? You decide if a report based upon corporate and insurance counsel opinions on the legal climate is biased and obviously tilted to the business of the lawyers' clients and the incomes of both the clients and the lawyers means anything.
However, objectifying those opinions in a "junk" report is disingenuous.
- TORT DE/REFORM: Is West Virginia a Judicial Hellhole? Hell no, or so say the numbers,
- Tort Deform/Reform: Is the Chamber of Commerce's Lobbying and Political Efforts Reaping Results? Well, W.Va.Record story entitled "[W.Va.] Supreme Court becoming more buisness friendly" ,
- TORT DEFORM: Is the legal system or the medical system that needs to be reformed? Sounds like physician, heal thyself.
Sorry for my little ramble, here is Ms. Fawns' op-ed in the Herald Leader. But with the limitations on corporate campaign contributions being unleashed by the US Supreme Court, our state courts are now at the mercy of big money. Until now, Kentucky has had a bye to all this, but the future may point to another type of "buy" if the corporate coffers are unleashed. Just remember, Blankenship's efforts in West Virginia to influence the makeup of the Supreme Court of West Virginia; and it worked. See, Justice Takes a Hit as Chief Justice "Spike" Maynard recuses himself in case in West Virginia as life imitates fiction from "The Appeal"
Study skews view of courts
By Maresa Fawns
A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce study is attempting to cause a stir in some parts of the country over what it calls the national lawsuit climate. It ranks each state based on a dubious set of factors for how friendly a state's legal system is for business.
The report is short on facts and credibility. And even more disconcerting is the lack of accountability it promotes — the same lack of accountability that pushed our nation into one of the worst economic messes in history.
The annual lawsuit climate rankings by the Institute of Legal Reform, a branch of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, rely only on the opinions of corporate defense attorneys who stand to profit when their corporations are shielded from those they have harmed through negligent behavior.
Corporations represented by the Chamber, such as AIG, the insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies, have gone to great lengths to portray our nation's civil justice system as unfair to them and at the same time wreaking havoc on our nation's economy.
This study is yet another tool in their PR campaign.
This year's study ranks Kentucky 40th in the nation in terms of how "fair" its legal system is for business, yet the study itself is the most blatantly unfair form of spin doctoring one can imagine.
For example, if you read a study showing that Duke University was the most popular sports team in Kentucky, would it affect your opinion if you knew only 10 people had been surveyed, and they were all Duke alumni?
In this survey, only those people who stand to gain from eliminating the protections of our civil justice system were asked whether they thought it should be limited. So you can guess their answers.
Aside from the flawed methodology, those promoting this study have caused so much harm to our nation's economy.
They say they are promoting small business, but in reality, companies like AIG — which alone has given the U.S. Chamber $23 million — are pushing for less accountability through our courts.
That is disturbing since it was their own lack of accountability that got them, and consequently our nation, in so much trouble.
Kentucky's civil justice system should be a fair and balanced way of addressing negligent behavior while encouraging a strong, ethical and accountable business community.
The legal and business community should not be at odds, but instead should be seen as allies. By serving as a watchdog against negligent and bad business behavior, good businesses can thrive and grow Kentucky's economy.
Kentuckians should see this and similar reports for what they truly are: fraudulent efforts by billion-dollar corporations to tilt the table in their favor at the expense of consumers.
If they really want to create a more thriving business community, may we suggest they start by cutting back on their million dollar bonuses and instead invest that money in creating good, safe jobs in states like Kentucky that need them.
Maresa Fawns is executive director of the Kentucky Justice Association, a statewide membership organization comprised mostly of trial lawyers.
By the way, others are not taking this slanted study as fact either.
- Louisiana Supreme Court Committee Challenges Chamber of Commerce's
Legal Systems Survey
NEW ORLEANS, March 22 /PRNewswire/ -- A special committee of the Louisiana Supreme Court is questioning the legitimacy of the State Liability Systems Ranking Study released today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The ILR's survey of corporate attorneys, litigators and executives for companies of at least $100 million ranked Louisiana the second-worst legal climate in the nation.
Noting the historic weaknesses in the ILR survey spelled out in an academic study conducted last year by Cornell University law and statistics Professor Theodore Eisenberg, the committee said the survey does not accurately reflect the reality of the Louisiana court system.