Tuesday, April 01, 2003

They're calling it the way they see it in Dayton, Ohio:
Just like in small-town coal country, business interests find people and institutions they can't control to be a nuisance. And nothing bugs them more than having to answer to ordinary citizens sitting in judgment of them as jurors.

So their strategy — not just in Ohio, but nationally — is to remove an important part of juries' traditional power to dispense justice in civil cases.

That's what "tort reform" is all about — at least in the radical form Republican state senators are expected to roll out this week.

This editorial discusses something not often discussed: the delay factor in how defendants litigate cases:

If these ideas are adopted, no defendants will be in a hurry to take responsibility for their mistakes. Why should they? There's no downside to duncing around injured parties for a couple of years. In fact, that's a smart business calculation under tort reform. Maybe the victim will get tired and settle for less.

Anyone who thinks corporations and their lawyers won't take full advantage of tort reform's money-saving tricks — including delay, delay, delay — is kidding themselves. Risk of larger liability and fear that a jury could be offended by a company's carelessness or misconduct encourages offending parties to be reasonable. This version of tort reform removes that pressure.

An excellent point, highlighting a facet of litigation not generally recognized or understood by the public -- delay is usually a deliberate tactic by the defense, in the big cases especially.

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