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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been airing a television advertisement claiming that “lawsuit abuse” costs American families $ 3,500 per year. According to FactCheck.Org the Chamber of Commerce claim is simply untrue. The figure actually represents the cost of ALL lawsuits, not just “abusive” lawsuits. Even the study’s author says the Chamber is misleading the public in quoting that statistic. The study even specifically warns against drawing conclusions about the costs and benefits of the judicial system and says the benefits of our system of justice could outweigh ANY costs.
The Chamber of Commerce not only ignores the truth and warnings in the study, it also twists the facts. Perhaps most important of all, the U.S. Chamber completely ignores the fact that the study also estimated the cost of ALL lawsuits to be at the lowest level in ten (10) years! So, the truth is that this study does not in any way support the claims of “lawsuit abuse” touted by the Chamber of Commerce year after year.
Most lawsuits are not even “tort” or “injury” related, and are not only not “abusive” but perfectly just claims for debts owed, foreclosures, breaches of contracts, and other wrongs for which citizens are seeking justice. Obviously, members of chambers of commerce all over America avail themselves of courtrooms every day in business against business litigation.
Moreover, politicians who pander to their big business constituents like insurance companies and the health care industry by demanding damage caps and other legislative measures to curb “lawsuit abuse”, often use courtrooms to seek justice for their own families injured by the negligence of others. For example, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has lobbied for “lawsuit reform” for years, yet he and his wife sued a chiropractor for more than the damage caps he sought for his well funded constituency. Tom Delay and his siblings sued a product manufacturer for the death of their father despite aggressively promoting tort reform for years thereafter. Trent Lott professed over and over that lawsuits were destroying American businesses and tort reform was needed, yet he and his family sued State Farm, their homeowners insurance company, for refusing to pay for damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Apparently, lawsuits are frivolous to politicians only when it’s not them making the claim.
Legitimate lawsuits for injuries or the death of a loved one are not “law suit abuse.” What is abusive is the Chamber of Commerce suggesting it is wrong to seek legal help when you have been seriously injured or disabled by the negligence of a business or its employee, or when your loved one has been killed because of the carelessness of some company out to make a buck.