Tulsa World: Beware of 'reform'
February 24, 2009
I get nervous whenever I see the word “reform” attached to legislation. “Tax reform” meant big tax cuts for the rich, and nothing for the rest of us. “Court reform” meant we lost the right to vote for (or against) half of our judges. The latest insult, “tort reform,” is another con job. By limiting the contingent-fee percentage a lawyer can charge, this new law would make it impossible for lawyers to handle many cases, leaving injured people unable to get competent representation.You don’t see a proposal to limit fees charged by defense lawyers, do you? Of course not. The rich and powerful insurance industry hires gunslingers by the hour, and they get a big, fat check every month, while the injured plaintiff’s lawyer gets nothing (except the right to pay his overhead), month after month unless and until he secures a recovery for his client.Don’t be misled the target of this legislation is not us trial lawyers. It’s you. It’s the person injured, or the survivors of someone killed by a defective product or a negligent (but heavily insured) doctor or the negligence of some corporate employee. They don’t want to pay you, and they don’t want you represented by a lawyer who can make them pay you. They’re rich, and powerful, and can wine and dine legislators and take them on free vacations in their corporate jets. Injured people have no organizations; they have no lobbyists; they have only their trial lawyers.Tell your legislator to oppose tort “reform.”