Don't believe the (self) hype

The Madison County Record Mar. 13, 2005, 3:01pm

To businesses, it’s scary. Insurers—they’re wary. And for doctors, the situation is just plain hairy.

But ask the Illinois plaintiff’s lawyers why so many blame them for Illinois’ civil justice crisis, and they’re quick to put the victims of our system on the stand.

The opinions of job-creating businesses are “useless” and corporate attorneys are like “drug dealers.” Insurance companies are “mismanaged” and pay their executives too much. Doctors aren’t disciplined enough and their many medical errors kill more people than “AIDS, breast cancer or traffic (accidents).”

Plaintiff’s lawyers love the art of cross-examination. But they should take note; the political arena isn’t a courtroom, and our business and medical communities aren’t on trial.


In politics, all players vie to expand or protect their own financial interest by equating it with the common good.

Popularity equals votes, and votes equal policy.

Sometimes the connection is obvious. Businesses provide jobs, investment returns, and affordable goods and services. Doctors improve and even save lives. Insurance companies make bold risk-taking in virtually every aspect of life possible.

And trial lawyers- they protect the “little guy” against all of the above.

Everything in life has a price, but it’s the lawyers'--that’s the problem. Justice for all is popular. For “only if I get millions in legal fees,” is not.

So this connection between group interest and common interest is an impossible stretch. And the spinmeisters are forced to slap lipstick on a pig.

“Victims and Families United” or the “Center for Justice and Democracy”-—take your pick. Backed by lawyers, they're both in the business of telling you how great lawyers are.

And using the misfortunate as their shield, they’re leading the charge for more lawsuits; for more conflict.

Altruism is a necessary costume when you represent society’s professional fight-pickers.


At its essence, Illinois’ great tort reform debate is a popularity contest.

Portraying business owners as dishonest or inept and doctors as doing harm may win the anti-reformers points with the woe-is-me, self-loathing crowd. But that’s a small, pessimistic minority.

Who is really fighting for “victims” and “families”? Who really believes in "justice" and "democracy"?

Are they hoping you get an errant fax or take a fall on the sidewalk so they can make another buck?

Or are they working under pressure, toiling on the late shift in our hospitals, staying weekends so they can make payroll? So you can sleep at night, and put food on the table?

More News