Power is a funny thing, both in politics, business, organizations and relationships.
Momentum is a real force in nature, but also in sports, society and in the affairs of man kind.
If you look at today's headlines, and talk to trial lawyers, claims adjusters, insurance professionals and others in the world of torts and settlements, it has become all to clear that the past 16 years of concerted efforts to demonize trial lawyers as parasites on the American economy and legal system has created a powerful amount of momentum against plaintiffs in cases both big and small, and that power resides with the Rockefeller Republican's and Stateist's who have been running the Republican party since the early early to mid 1990's. They have won the day on the tort reform lie and we will now live with the consequences until the momentum swings back to the rights of the citizen over the power of the state.
Merck win's another Vioxx verdict, raising their tally to 7 wins and 4 losses, but the momentum is clearly on the side of the defendants, as juries can't seem to get their hands around the idea that prior heart conditions got worse on Vioxx, and not that the heart conditions would have just killed the poor plaintiff anyways.
A judge steps in and slices legal fees on a mass tort by 50% in the Boeing claims. Valid or reasonable, I can't comment because I haven't followed the case, but do you think this would have happened 10 years ago? Five years ago?
Milberg Weiss continues to implode, with lawyers jumping ship and criminal actions dogging the partners. Asbestos cases and fraud allegations are a weekly running headline in the WSJ or NY Times. Again, valid issues and the result of poor oversight and greed, but the harm the actions of a few cause to the many trial lawyers and plaintiffs is massive as the perception of crooked, greedy lawyers gets more and more play in the press.
The number of tort cases filed dropped by a stunning 30% to 40% according to defense industry statistics.
ATLA is compelled to change their name to American Association for Justice, so reviled is the trial lawyer name in the eyes of average citizens and juries.
Political types sneer the word "trial lawyer" in the way past generations spoke of "commies, pinkos, the Klan" or other undesirables. To be associated with "trial lawyer interests" is akin to being " A Castro supporter" or "Friend of the Mullahs", so deep is the stain in the eyes of the media and political spin types.
Any claims adjuster will tell you that they have been largely directed to try cases, offer next to nothing on valid claims and engage in the old "starve the enemy out" tactic of forcing trial lawyers to invest heavily to take cases to trial, all the while knowing that their odds of winning at trial are the best they have been in several generations as juries have largely bought the "tort reform" lie. I talked to a couple of good friends who own a major defense law firm and they are bursting with business and profits, as they both told me that the current climate is to take cases to trial, delay to the end and bury trial lawyers in the process hoping their cash or the will of the client gives out. Cynical but effective tactics.
State malpractice funds are bulging with money, to the point where they are almost embarrassed to show how few claims they are paying and are engaging in their annual year end claims settlement rush just to take the amounts down in the reserves so they can continue to prop up premium levels and the aura of a medical malpractice crisis, which is the biggest unsubstantiated myth in American culture. Someone please show me a doctor who can't get coverage or who is going out of business due to excessive premiums.
Insurance companies, in the Katrina and hurricane year, the worst in 40 years, reported the largest profits and revenue growth in their history, all in a low interest rate and flat stock market environment, meaning the gains were almost due to underwriting profit and lack of claims. Tort crisis or companies who have sold American's a bill of goods on giving up their rights to trial, rights to a jury and placed judges on the bench that are often pawns for corporate interests? Yet, the state trial associations all know that in every state another tort reform battle looms, as the strategy of grinding down the rights of claimants continues unabated, all in the interest of more profit and the destruction of trial lawyers as a political and social force in American politics and business.
Any structured settlement broker will tell you, if he's honest, that it's been a flat to down year in our business for the number of cases brought to settlement. Most cases are being tried, only the very worst are settled, and if they get a verdict they are pushed to appeal. There just aren't as many cases, and the dollar amounts are no higher then they were 20 years ago for similar claims. That's not an appealing business model.
We are about to live through a time where personal liberty and the rights of claimants, plaintiffs and others will face extreme duress, with the only thing standing between the broken and desperate will be competent trial lawyers willing to continue fighting, as well as advisors who work diligently to use every tool and resource to maximize the recoveries that they do receive. The only hope in most cases is a fair, independent, resolute judge, and as the great Sandra Day O'Connor will readily attest, the attack has no come to go after the independent judiciary, all with an eye to further controlling and corrupting the legal system in favor or corporate or state interests.
I'll leave you with this final thought:
“Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those that deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed.”