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Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly 2


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									Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly
November 2003 (Volume 2, No. 14)
A report on how predatory trial lawyers profit by depriving victims
of justice and undermining the Rule of Law in the United States.

Trial Lawyers Pick Pockets of Panhandlers                             Lawyers from around the country who filed similar
In the face of a lawsuit claiming the civil rights of                 suits are planning to appeal the settlement, figuring
panhandlers had been violated, Chicago stopped                        there’s more money where that $10 million came from.
ticketing, and in some cases arresting, beggars. The city             From Suburban Chicago Newspapers
offered winter clothes – long underwear, socks, hats,
gloves and the like – in restitution. The panhandlers and
their lawyers scoffed at the offer and demanded cash.                 Will Sand Be the Next Asbestos?
And they got it. Some 3,000 panhandlers will get up to                What’s the next asbestos? Some say “toxic” mold,
$450 apiece out of a pool of $99,000. Their lawyers,                  some say lead paint. How about silica? The dust from
from three firms, will split $375,000. Doing the math                 crushed sand is ubiquitous enough to satiate trial
reveals that the law firms will receive 833 times as much             lawyer cravings for cash for a decade or two. Inhaled
money as any individual panhandler. From The Chicago                  in heavy quantities, silica can cause a debilitating
Sun-Times                                                             disease known as silicosis. Like asbestos and coal dust,
                                                                      it permanently scars the lungs and makes it difficult to
                                                                      breathe. Mississippi has become the mother lode of
Dolly Parton Is No Match for Trial Lawyers                            silica litigation, with some 17,000 cases already on the
When she built her Dollywood theme park in the Great                  books. Lawyers in the state have set up mass lung
Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, country singer Dolly                    screenings for potential claimants, many of whom
Parton decided to give free admission to people who are               were falsely “diagnosed” with asbestosis when that
blind, deaf, or in wheelchairs. Unfortunately, she has                industry had any money left and are now trying to
been forced to rescind that generosity. A nonprofit                   double-dip with silica. From the Jackson
Florida advocacy group called Access Now, Inc. and a                  Clarion-Ledger
local Tennessee woman sued the park under the
American for Disabilities Act for giving free passes only
to certain types of disabled people, but not all. Dollywood           German Common Sense
lawyers say the park staff lacks the training to judge                Unlike their American counterparts, most European
degrees of disability, so they canceled the program. They             courts reject out of hand the notion that cigarette
will estimate how much the program cost the park and                  companies should be held liable for the health problems
donate that amount to charities that help disabled people.            of smokers. As far as they’re concerned, you’re an
From The Nation Law Journal and Maureen Dowd                          idiot to smoke but if you do, don’t blame the
of The New York Times                                                 companies. Latest to weigh in on this issue is a civil
                                                                      court in western Germany that tossed out the country’s
You Mean It Doesn’t Come from Poland, Either?                         first lawsuit by a smoker demanding compensation for
Can you believe it? “Poland Spring” bottled water                     a smoking-related illness. The court found the man had
doesn’t actually come from a spring? For this incredible              not provided evidence his severe heart condition was
act of deception, Nestle Corporation agreed to a $10                  directly linked to his smoking, and that “it was not clear
million settlement with a Chicago-area plaintiff who also             the defendants had acted illegally or in a manner for
happens to be a County Sheriff. Of the money, $8 million              which they could be held liable.” From Reuters
will be spent in water coupons to consumers and
donations to charity. The company also agreed to change
the process it uses to obtain the water it sells. The                 $6 Million Is Nothing To Sneeze At
lawyer who brought the suit will get $800,000 in fees and             A study published this month in the Journal of Allergy
his co-counsel $540,000. The Sheriff gets $12,000.                    and Clinical Immunology found no link between the
genetically engineered corn Starlink and potentially                    printed stories linking certain Saudi families to the
dangerous allergic reactions. Three years ago, when                     funneling of money to Islamic terrorist groups.
Starlink was approved only for animal feed, it found its                Because the Journal has a European edition, it has
way into products intended for human consumption.                       been sued in British courts for holding the Saudi
A Florida optometrist, one of three named plaintiffs in                 businessmen up to “odium, ridicule [and] contempt.”
the inevitable class action                                                                         The Journal trial is
lawsuit that followed, asked to                                                                     scheduled to begin in
                                        “The largest contributors to judicial campaigns in
be tested. He was fed Starlink                                                                      December. One British
                                        Illinois have been the personal injury lawyers,
corn, other corn, and a placebo                                                                     plaintiffs’ attorney bragged
                                        especially in places such as Madison and St. Clair
on different days. Nothing                                                                          that Osama bin Laden has
                                        Counties. Those of us who believe our courts
happened. Unfortunately, the                                                                        “done wonders for the
                                        need fair, honest and impartial judges are going to
manufacturer had already                                                                            defamation (libel) bar.” From
                                        have to become involved and that means
settled the suit for $6 million                                                                     Newsweek
                                        contributing to help good candidates.”
worth of food discount
coupons. (Did you get yours?)                     – Ed Murnane, President of the Illinois           Democrats Block Class
The lawyers got millions in                       Civil Justice League                              Action Reform Again
cash. The Florida doctor hasn’t                                                                     In late October, Senate
said whether he’ll return his                                                                       Democrats once again
$10,000 cut of the action. From The New York Times                      derailed Republican-backed legislation to limit lawsuit
                                                                        abuse. S. 274 would have heightened judicial scrutiny
Lawyers Go Bowling with Osama bin Laden                                 of settlements and moved more cases into federal
Libel laws in Great Britain are the exact opposite of                   courts. It was, at best, a modest step in the right
those in the U.S. British libel law places the burden of                direction. But even this step was too much for Sen.
proof on the defendant – usually the media – to prove                   Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota,
what they printed or broadcast was true. A group of                     who persuaded his Democratic colleagues to filibuster
wealthy Saudi Arabian families are taking advantage of                  the bill. Every Republican except Sen. Richard Shelby
British law in an attempt to silence their critics, even                of Alabama voted for the bill, as did eight Democrats.
those in the United States. The Wall Street Journal                     From Associated Press and Illinois Civil Justice

 Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly                                        Information on lawsuit abuse can be found on these Web sites:
 Published by The Heartland Institute,
                                                                  www.litigationfairness.org                 www.atra.org
 a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1984.
                                                                  www.alec.org                       www.halt.org
 Phone 312/377-4000, fax 312/377-5000
                                                                  www.overlawyered.com               www.fed-soc.org
 Back issues are available online at www.heartland.org.
                                                                  www.manhattan-institute.org        www.wlf.org
 Publisher: Joseph L. Bast
 Editors: Diane Carol Bast, Paul Fisher, Dan Hales

The Heartland Institute
19 South LaSalle Street #903
Chicago, Illinois 60603

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