By now, everyone has heard about the $65 million lawsuit against a dry cleaners over a pair of lost pants. That the matter is ridiculous is immediately apparent. No matter what kind of math is involved, no lost pair of pants translates into $65 million of damages. However, even more absurd is the attempt to use this ridiculous lawsuit as a poster child for tort reform. Can anybody with common sense really equate this type of lawsuit with that of a worker disabled for life due to a defective piece of equipment, or thousands of people who develop a serious medical condition because a medication’s risks were not properly reported, or a child who dies from dangerous chemicals in a toy? Of course not. The dry cleaner lawsuit is not an example of the important work that plaintiff’s lawyers have done for years, and continue to do, despite the animosity whipped up by the so-called tort reformers. A recent tort reform commercial tossed around figures supposedly representing the amount of extra money that consumers pay for products as a resule of tort lawsuits. Such “information” should be viewed skeptically. Perhaps those commercials should give figures of how much money consumers pay to support the multi-million dollar salaries of company CEOs. Certainly frivolous lawsuits should not be tolerated, but lawsuits on behalf of injured people have led to significant improvements in the safety of workplaces and the goods and services that we all rely on.
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