Litigation to the Extreme – Seismologists on Trial in Italy

In the world we live in litigation comes in all forms and sizes, for many actions and inactions.

How much trials cost any government – be it national, state or local – would be hard to calculate. Suffice it to say, there are scores of people and hundreds or thousands of hours involved in almost any judicial trial.

It seems that a new legal ceiling has been set. This one in Italy.

As reported by LiveScience.com, six seismologists and a government official in Italy are on trial for manslaughter for not warning residents about the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake.

On April 6 of that year there were around 300 people killed during the quake.

The deaths are indeed horrific. No one should ever lose a loved one to an accident, be it natural or man-caused, but we all do.

However, that residents were not warned ahead of time of the possible impending peril back then is now on the world stage in a courtroom where those seven individuals face the possibility of dire consequences.

Make no mistake, this blogger is not a seismologist, or a scientist, but putting these seven people on trial for failing to accurately predict something where no accurate science exists seems a bit out of line. Especially charging them with manslaughter.

The other ramification is that people from other nations who have been involved in natural disasters may decide to take part in the same type of activity. And, there are those who will attempt such a feat though their claim may be frivolous, at best.

Not to diminish the 300 lives lost in any way shape or form, if this lawsuit is successful, one wonders (because there are attorneys who make a substantial living through frivolous lawsuits, especially in the U.S.) when the first litigation will appear concerning a person whose quite expensive made-to-measure Kiton suit and A. Testoni Norvegese shoes were damaged or ruined because a weatherperson did not warn them that heavy rain would be falling exactly at the location where they stepped out on a crowded city street.

Ridiculous? Perhaps. But, then again, one person beat McDonald’s in court after buying coffee and placing it between her legs while driving, only to be scalded shortly thereafter.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

House Speaker Speaks Up, Defies Polls

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, on ABC television’s “This Week,” stated, without any doubt, that if President Obama decides to use the reconciliation method of political maneuvering she will deliver the votes without the support of any Republicans.

Make no mistake, polls also show reform is needed and wanted.

However, poll after poll bring into the open that the majority of Americans do not approve of either of the bills that passed the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The strong-arm tactic that will apparently be used on these earmarked pieces of legislation that will affect 17% of the U.S. economy is not representative of what Americans need or want.

Why won’t our elected representatives listen?

It has been voiced by some Democrats that objections regarding the healthcare reform bills are due to mis-information delivered by Republicans.

There probably does exist some of that.

However, Democrats are guilty of the same activity.

Consider that the bills are supposedly going to provide coverage for some 30 million Americans who do not currently have any form of healthcare insurance.

Yet, one third of that total, ten million people, have elected not to carry insurance, despite the fact that they can afford it. These people are exercising their own free will, as is their right, and making their own decisions about what they need and want.

Not if this legislation passes.

They will be forced into obtaining and paying for insurance, or be fined and/or be visited by the IRS.

This type of political activity, economic ramifications aside, erodes our Bill of Rights.

This type of political activity drastically increases the role of government in the lives of all Americans.

It used to be that when the People speak those who have been elected to follow the will of the People respond to that will.

Evidently, no longer.

As Pelosi stated on ABC TV, “We’re here to do the job for the American people — to get them results that gives them not only health security, but economic security, because the health issue is an economic issue for America’s families.”

If she truly believed those words, then the Speaker would respond to, and support, the People, Main Street USA. She would champion their cause and scrap the thousands of pages of pork-filled legislation that currently exist and start anew with something meaningful and truly helpful.

Instead of ducking their responsibility on Tort Reform by passing it off to the individual states (which, as previously discussed, would become a national matter in the U.S. Supreme Court), the House and Senate should pass legislation immediately in this area.

Taxpayers do not need to pay for frivolous lawsuits that clog the Court system and, in the end, raise insurance rates each and every time they succeed. That is a double-whammy to the pocketbook of Main Street USA.

One last note.

Most of the articles that appear regarding passage of healthcare reform state that “Obama has the votes to pass reform” the way it is currently written.

Since when did the White House become more important than the collective voice, opinion and will of Main Street USA?

Yes, President Obama, we do need healthcare reform.

But not in the current state as presented.

Eliminate Medicare and Medicaid fraud-NOW.

Stop frivolous lawsuits with Tort Reform-AT ONCE.

Then, and only then, should we move forward with legislation that is significant and does not trample on the Rights of Americans to choose what they need and want.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

Frivolous Lawsuits (ie Tort Reform)

The more I ponder President Obama’s words at yesterday’s Health Care Summit regarding frivolous lawsuit legislation being handed over to the states, the more it makes less sense to me.

Truth be told, zero sense.

Especially if one of the driving forces behind effective national healthcare reform is to lower costs to Main Street USA.

The insurance business is one of the riskiest businesses around.

Think about it. A company takes what is, in reality, a small amount of money from each of many people and ends up paying out money to cover whatever is insured.

In the health field, that particular cost is incredibly compounded by frivolous lawsuits and tort awards that are way out of line.

In order to protect themselves, and stay in business, insurance companies charge higher premiums.

There are major flaws with trying to pawn this area off to the states.

In the first place, consider the fact that not every state may enact any legislation at all. And, because it is being left up to the states, the laws themselves will vary (probably greatly) and provide different levels of protection.

Unless, of course, it is mandated that all states enact legislation. And, if that ends up being the case, why not do it at the national level?

Possibly the biggest factor, however, is that if a plaintiff does not like the award received in their judgment, even if it was at the uppermost limit a state allowed, it would be appealed. First to the Appellate Court, the the State Supreme Court and, ultimately, to the US Supreme Court, where a decision would be made.

And that decision would affect all states.

Thus, all that would be accomplished by pushing this particular area of responsibility and legislation to the states is clogging the courts with appeals that eventually end up in our highest court in the land for a decision.

As a note, that would, of course, be after each state spent countless hours, days, weeks – i.e., taxpayer dollars – in order to craft and pass legislation. Yet, another cost for Main Street USA to carry.

Therefore, all of this means, in the end, that there would be more burdensome costs for the good ole middle class. (And this is a hidden cost, not covered in either the House or Senate healthcare reform legislation.)

Another item to consider is that many elected (and appointed) representatives on Capitol Hill totally vilify the insurance companies as greedy, making too much money off of the middle class, etc., etc.

Think about this for a minute…how much money does an attorney make who wins a frivolous lawsuit or a suit that awards monetary damages in the hundreds of millions to someone?

A bundle, to be sure.

As an example, perhaps the attorney is working on a 30 or 40 percent retainer and the award comes in at $100 million. The plaintiff gets $60 or $70 million and the attorney walks away with a cool $30 or $40 million.

The lawyer will defend this and speak of all the time and costs involved that he/she must pay out of their portion of the settlement. But how many of those attorneys have to worry about health insurance, making their mortgage payment, putting food on the table? How many of them live in million-dollar-plus homes and drive cars that the vast majority of Main Street USA can only dream about?

It is still this Main Streeter’s opinion that this issue is being relegated to the states because attorneys and law firms are some of the biggest contributors to campaigns and spend millions of dollars lobbying.

Thus, by not tackling Tort Reform at the Federal level our elected public servants are being incredibly irresponsible in this area.

America does not need bigger, expanding government. America needs fair and equitable government representing the best interests of the People.

For Healthcare Reform, that starts with Tort Reform – putting an end to frivolous lawsuits and outlandish settlements – at the Federal, not State, level. And not attempting to rid the country of insurance companies so that we end up with socialized medicine.

If that happens, what is next? Uncle Sam’s Gas Stations?

Over For Now.

Main Street One