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Hypocrisy is rampant in our society today and the “tort reform” debate has certainly not been spared from it. While the Insurance Lobby and Big Business fight to keep people from having access to courts, they certainly want to keep unfettered access open for their use. Tort filings may be down across the board, but there is one area where, it’s safe to say, business is booming. Filings of business-against-business lawsuits have shot up at the same time that personal injury filings have dropped. The Washington, D.C.-based consumer rights group Public Citizen conducted an analysis of public court records in 2004. PUBLIC CITIZEN’S CONGRESS WATCH, FREQUENT FILERS: CORPORATE HYPOCRISY IN ACCESSING THE COURTS (2004).
Some of its key findings:
- Businesses file four times as many lawsuits as people represented by trial lawyers do.
- Businesses that pay their lawyers an hourly fee are 69 percent more likely to be sanctioned for being frivolous filers.
- Of the top 10 jury awards in 2003, 8 were business-against-business suits.
In its 2004 report, Public Citizen also listed a surprising number of lawsuits brought by physicians as plaintiffs against hospitals and HMOs. Although some doctors feel they should not be held accountable like everyone else when they negligently harm someone, they have no problem suing hospitals and HMO’s over business disputes.