Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Robert Landauer:

Bush chose the Illinois site [to redirect his attack, this time to benefit the insurance industry] because "(a) recent study ranked Madison County the number one place in the country for trial lawyers to sue" -- the nation's worst "judicial hellhole," the American Tort Reform Association called it, followed by neighboring St. Clair County. Health care professionals should be fighting illnesses, not "junk lawsuits," Bush declared.

A closer look at the numbers by lawyers, advocacy groups and news reporters presents a less alarming picture locally. Also, analyses by the Congressional Budget Office indicate that Bush's legislative prescriptions won't cut medical costs any more than a tummy tuck will cure a runny nose.

Of nearly 700 malpractice/wrongful death suits filed in Madison County between 1996 and 2003, only 14 resulted in verdicts. Only six of those favored the plaintiffs. Of those six, only one was large enough to be affected by the president's proposed $250,000 cap.

So even in the nation's leading "judicial hellhole," courts throw out most baseless lawsuits early in the process, and the system usually does work.

Did you all get that? Only one verdict in Madison County, Illinois was over $250,000 over a seven year period. What litigation crisis?

The Administration is campaigning for tort limitations the same way it campaigned for the presidency: using fear, truth distortions, and out and out mistruths. As usual, it relies on the public not paying attention. Some of us do.

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