Wednesday, October 20, 2004


We were discussing a case with a potential client yesterday that highlighted why tort lawyers are a craven crowd. This firm makes a chemical, which is labeled a "probable carcinogen." There is no proof it is, and recent studies apparently show no connection between the chemical and cancer. However, that didn't stop a tort lawyer from filing dozens of lawsuits against the company at a plant site because the lawyer claimed the chemical caused an amazing number of illnesses from birth defects to shortness of breath. The lawyer, of course, demanded the company settle before he picked the company's pocket in the courtroom.

The company says the lawyer has no evidence to back his statements, and in the courtroom, under the Daubert principles, the company will be able to throw out the lawyer's junk science. But, the company noted, winning in the courtroom isn't going to do the firm any good with the people in the plant community. They now believe the chemical is at fault. It is another case of being guilty until proven innocent, as happens so frequently with perception. But the company cannot prove innocence with finality because the tort lawyer is using a further bit of cant. This is the argument that just because we don't know the chemical caused the illnesses, it doesn't mean that the chemical didn't cause them. Science just hasn't found the right tests yet. When it does, the chemical will be proven a bad actor. How do you fight that logic? Not easily. So even if the company wins in court, it is placed in a position of defending itself and its chemical forever.

Do you ever wonder why many people dislike tort lawyers? They are masters of PR and of self-justification. They wrap themselves in the safety of mankind. And, it works. If Kerry wins the presidency, we will have a tort lawyer one step from the highest office. That's something to think about.


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