A roundhouse kick to frivolous lawsuit

One of my more vivid memories of the battle of 2010 was the nearly shameless lack of interest on the part of our Democratic opponent in addressing reform in the industry of medical malpractice suits, even as he railed on about the need to reform our healthcare system. We interviewed a number of doctors, many of whom showed up for campaign rallies to talk about the costs incurred via an industry seemingly designed to allow any rookie lawyer to extract cash from health care professionals on the flimsiest of claims.

Unfortunately, that practice isn’t limited to the medical industry, and the costs which are passed down to the rest of us from those looking to make a fast buck on a well crafted story get more painful as the economy continues to flounder. It’s almost enough to make you want to go out and give somebody a good, hard kick. Obviously, we don’t encourage the literal use of violence as a method to resolve disputes here at Hot Air, but we might find somebody with the means to deliver a legal and metaphorical blow along those lines. But who?

Oh, you already knew the answer, didn’t you? It’s Chuck Norris.

Two women get into a fight in the ladies’ restroom at a restaurant. Afterward, they sue the restaurant owner, claiming someone should have been in there to break up the fight. It costs the small-business owner $2,000 to pay each plaintiff to drop the complaint, which was cheaper than fighting the lawsuit would have been.

This completely ridiculous story is true, and the restaurant owner was one of us, Mr. Norris. Fortunately, the lawsuit didn’t cripple the family restaurant, Woody’s Wharf in Newport Beach, Calif. But nationwide, groundless lawsuits strain businesses’ bottom lines and threaten their very survival.

This week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law that will help free Lone Star State businesses from the threat of frivolous lawsuits by enacting “loser-pays” tort reform. Prior to the legislation, litigants faced a no-lose situation, while defendants stood to lose everything—even for the most outrageous, bizarre and wrongful accusations.

This “loser pays” version of tort reform is setting off an absolute firestorm in Texas, as we’ve noted here before. And while it may come as a surprise to some, this is not a problem which is only cropping up in blue states. At the local and state level, government has long been under the sway of the enormous amount of cash which trial lawyers can bring to bear on elections. (Think a smaller version of labor unions, but with a lot more fiscal clout per office.)

The enormous appeal of this approach should be obvious, were the phrase “common sense” ever allowed in courts of law or the halls of Congress. Previous attempts were based on seeking to establish definitions of what types of suits or circumstances of perceived wrongs could be subject to challenge. This, as should be obvious, left any attempt at reform subject to the whims of those crafting the rules and having open pockets to lobbyists.

The Texas approach, as outlined by Chuck Norris, is a bit simpler. If you think your case truly has merit… bring it! No restrictions! But if you lose and it becomes obvious to the jurists that you were blowing sunshine up the skirts of the court in a transparent attempt to pick a deep pocket for some quick cash… then you pay the court costs, not the public or the intended victim of your scheme.

Anything displaying this much common sense, of course, will probably be shot down in no time flat. But we can dream, can’t we?