The Chamber of Commerce crusade to curtail lawsuits | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Chamber of Commerce crusade to curtail lawsuits

Posted By on Tue, May 28, 2013 at 6:08 AM

SPECIFICS PLEASE: Chamber chief Randy Zook paints with a bfroad brush on lawsuit abuse.
  • SPECIFICS PLEASE, MR. ZOOK: Chamber chief Randy Zook paints with a broad brush on lawsuit 'abuse.'
Another update today, this one from Stephens Media, on the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce's obsession with closing the doors of the courthouse to damage suits, or at least to meaningful damage awards (thus effectively discouraging all lawsuits.)

Quotable is chamber leader Randy Zook:

“It’s a widely recognized problem,” he said. “I think people recognize there is a great deal of lawsuit abuse, or legal system abuse — the whole idea of cooked up class-action suits that have soaked and in some cases bankrupted companies, people understand this.

“When you see outlandish damage settlement and jury awards that are just over the top, people understand that somebody is paying for that. The fact is, we’re paying for it. In fact, medical costs is an area with malpractice abuse.”

Would it be too much to ask for Arkansas specific examples?

Outlandish damages? Is $5 million too much for a woman left in excruciating pain in a nursing home despite a doctor's orders that the woman be taken for immediate emergency room evaluation?

Abusive class actions? Would these be like the huge cases against the filthy rich drug companies for misuse of drugs to profiteer off government health programs? Or would it be the notably mixed results of lawsuits in Arkansas on, say, hormone replacement drugs?

Abusive class actions? Would that include the big payment to Arkansas rice farmers for adulterated seed which crippled their huge crop?

Bankrupted by lawsuit? Arkansas example, please Mr. Zook (beyond someone who used bankruptcy to avoid legitimate debts). The drug companies are still in business. Exxon, too, despite vast damage from oil spills here and abroad where some limited justice came only at the courthouse.

Implicit in Zook's shotgun criticism, too, is the belief that juries are dumb, lawyers are liars and judges are incompetent. There, but for all those sorry players, the noble corporations wouldn't be held hostage to the law and Constitution. Call it sore loser syndrome.

As I've indicated before, the opposing side may fight a planned ballot initiative with one of their own. Meanwhile, the chamber is going to do all it can to elect judges who'll legislate for the corporations from the bench.

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