Injured deserve day in court

The Madison County Record Jan. 16, 2005, 4:41am

I am an insurance defense attorney, in practice as an attorney for 10
years, with 10 years as an insurance defense paralegal prior to that
time. I have defended and worked on suits involving product liability, asbestos claims, premises liability, auto accidents, municipal liability, fire claims and many more.

Your publication presents the most biased version of the nature and
effect of tort actions I have ever seen or encountered in any form,

While I am keenly aware that there are those who would abuse the system, I also know that injured persons deserve a day in court and a fair hearing of their claims. This is a matter of tort law, as established over hundreds of years of English and American jurisprudence. It appears that your publication would deny any and all such claims, based upon a very skewed notion of what constitutes a "frivolous suit."

So long as a plaintiff can demonstrate the violation of a duty and
damages resulting from that violation, they are entitled to a day in
court. While general, or "pain and suffering" damages may, at times, be overstated, the long tradition of this country is to allow a jury to make that determination.

In my home state of Washington, it has been ruled that such a jury determination is a matter of right under the state constitution. Not you, not the legislature, not an uninformed public can make a determination of general damages, only a jury of a plaintiff's peers.

Despite any and all reservations I may have concerning whether or not
the amount of general damages awarded in any particular case is or is
not correct, it is inherently and basically unfair and unjust to suggest that such damages should not be awarded, or should be legislatively capped, or that tort suits should be politically, legislatively or judicially discouraged.

The current court rules, such as Fed. R. Civ. Procedure 11 and other
safeguards, adequately protect the system from abuse. To suggest
otherwise is an insult to the courts and to the legal profession. I also personally consider the "anti-tort" campaign, particularly as
promulgated in your publication, to be a 21st century form of

Mark R. Fahrenkrug
Seattle, Washington

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