Friday, June 03, 2005

Countering Tort Reform Lies

Sick of lawsuits dot com? Tort reformers are desperately trying to repackage the product, following the old neocon maxim: if you package it right, anyone will buy it.
Here are some reasons to not buy it.
Tort reform pits the institution against the individual consumer.
The news is that tort reform is not about citizens or the well-being of the people, it's about making corporations fatter. Tort reform is graft and profit day for the insurance industry.
The high premiums of medical insurance are not the product of damage awards.

Re-igniting the medical malpractice overhaul debate, a new study by Dartmouth College researchers suggests that huge jury awards and financial settlements for injured patients have not caused the explosive increase in doctors' insurance premiums.

The researchers said a more likely explanation for the escalation is that malpractice insurance companies have raised doctors' premiums to compensate for falling investment returns.

Is it any accident that this study from Illinois asserts something similar?

Medical Malpractice and the Tort System in Illinois
An ISBA-commissioned study by Neil Vidmar, professor at Duke University Law School, found that the Illinois tort system does not appear to be the cause of the undisputed rise in doctor's liability insurance premiums. The full text of the Professor Vidmar's study is online here. END QUOTE. "online here" is a hyperlink to the study itself.

And consider this description of the effects of tort reform in Texas from the Center for Economic Justice.

Despite claims by TDI of huge savings to consumers, "tort reform" has resulted in huge, windfall profits to Texas automobile insurers of $3 billion for the years 1996 through 1998. Detailed data provided by TDI shows that bodily injury liability premiums for rate-regulated companies were excessive by over 48% in both 1996 and 1997.

The most shameful part of the "tort reform" insurance rate debacle is the failure of the Department to protect even the most vulnerable consumers – those consumers denied coverage by rate-regulated consumers and forced to go to the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association (TAIPA) – from excessive rates. Bodily injury liability rates in TAIPA – the market of last resort for Texas auto insurance consumers – were 22.7% and 26.5% excessive in 1996 and 1997, respectively. END QUOTE.

No, I'm definitely not sick of lawsuits yet.
Chief Justice Rehnquist once said that a lawsuit is never frivolous to the litigants. It's one of the few things he's said that I agree with.

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