TorteDeForm

Cyrus Dugger

Launch of Hypocrites of Tort Reform Series

This post marks the launch of yet another Tort Deform series “Hypocrites of Tort Reform.”

This series highlights the work of the Center for Justice and Democracy in identifying proponents of tort “reform” who have sought to limit access to the courts for others, but who when financially or physically injured waste no time in going to the very courthouse they made inaccessible to others.

As the Center for Justice and Democracy explains:

No one likes a hypocrite. Yet one would be hard pressed to find more hypocrites than in the “tort reform” movement. Take a look at the record of a host of lawmakers, lobbyists and even journalists who complain about lawsuits and argue that the rights of injured consumers to go to court should be scaled back because we are too “litigious.” Yet when they or family members are hurt and need compensation for their own injuries, often minor ones, these same individuals do not hesitate to use the courts to obtain compensation, to right a wrong, to hold a wrongdoer accountable or to obtain justice. The same is true for corporations that have funded the “tort reform” movement. These companies support efforts to immunize themselves from liability for harming consumers. But when these same companies believe they have been wronged by a business competitor, they are the first to sue. In this report we take a look at the cases of several proponents of tort restrictions who do not “practice what they preach.” We examine individuals who have sued sometimes for millions of dollars while at the same time championing damage caps and other severe liability restrictions for others. We also look at corporate litigants who have lent financial or other support to groups like the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), the Manhattan Institute and state business coalitions like New Yorkers for Civil Justice Reform (NYCJR).1 Notably, tort restrictions advocated by these organizations virtually never limit the rights of corporations to sue business competitors for commercial losses. This list is by no means exhaustive but merely representative of businesses and other “tort reformers” who say one thing but do another when it comes to the civil justice system.

Our first showcase is our very own embattled Commander in Chief: George W. Bush.

George W. Bush As Texas Governor, George W. Bush was one of the “tort reform” movement’s biggest proponents. One of Bush’s first acts as governor in 1995 was to meet with representatives of nine Texas Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) chapters in a salsa factory outside of Austin, after which he declared a legislative “emergency” on “frivolous lawsuits.” Over his two terms, Bush signed a series of brutal bills that severely reduced injured consumers’ rights to go to court. However, when it comes to solving problems involving his own family, Bush heads straight to court. In 1999, Bush sued Enterprise Rent-A-Car over a minor fender-bender involving one of his daughters in which no one was hurt. Although his insurance would have covered the repair costs making a lawsuit unnecessary, Bush sought additional money from Enterprise, which had rented a car to someone with a suspended license. In this case, Bush seemed to understand one of the most important functions of civil lawsuits — to deter further wrongdoing. The case settled for $2,000 to $2,500.

To read more examples from the Center for Justice and Democracy, click here.

If you or your organization is interested in learning more about or working on these types of civil justice issues, please feel free to contact me at cdugger@drummajorinstitute.org.

Cyrus Dugger
Senior Fellow in Civil Justice
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy

Cyrus Dugger: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 10:45 AM, Oct 03, 2006 in Hypocrites of Tort "Reform"
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Comments

I propose launching the "Hypocrites of the Lawyer Profession."

These are proponents of the great benefits of torts, who deal themselves immunity. They deprive themselves of the benefits they want all others to enjoy.

These include all lawyers with regard to their immunity for carelessness injuring adverse third parties, despite express duties in the Rules of Conduct, Evidence and Procedure.

These include judges, who carry out ghoulish human experiments and have no accountability for their horrid mistakes. An example is Booker and Blakely. These have resulted in an immediate uptick of murder and mayhem, what I like to call the Scalia Bounce. He should be sued by the class of excess murder victims for his mistake.

These include the lawyers on the legislatures. Their carelessness is so endless, they need to be removed.

Finally, those who have failed to reverse Hans and to repeal the 11th Amendment so that the States may enjoy the benefits of torts.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | October 4, 2006 1:56 PM

Supremacy, I in some ways understand your frustration with judicial immunity, but it's hardly the doing of lawyers. It's also something lawyers can't undo. It's a legislative issue.

I agree with you that many lawyers in legislatures are careless and should be removed. The only way to do so is to vote them out.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | October 4, 2006 2:18 PM

All other platforms pale when you are responsible for making so many of us homeless.

I have written the president 2 letters, 348 emails and sent 76 faxes.. before we lost our homes with many of our neighbors and no one even bothered to answer,

We have filed over 12,000 claims to the Attorney Generals office, just in TEXAS and the AG nor the DA have chosen to take action. We ... and all our neighbors and all the people in Texas that read the national articles about what is happening to us will take action on voting day.

Tort reform has destroyed our families doubled our foreclosure rate and look at the bankruptcies....We can tell you what is wrong with the economy you have destroyed our credit ratings and made us homeless. And we, the middle class are being destroyed.

Arbitration From the prefix ar- to arrive and traitor-to betray anothers trust

My husband and I are still in the arbitration process. We have been having depositions, preparing documents, time lines...many going back to April of 2002, and getting all ready for discovery. It is a monumental task. As the builder and AAA, the American Arbitration Association know. It is also cost prohibitive ... no matter what kind of spin they try to put on arbitration ...as being cheaper than court, my husband and I write the checks we know better.

This is why most new home owners with defective houses, repair their own homes ... even though they have warranty papers, (slick booklets that are enclosed in the decorative folder they are handed in exchange for their check).

If their defects are extensive they are forced into foreclosure and many into bankruptcy.
(Houston's foreclosures have more than doubled in one year and the numbers are not accurate.)

Arbitration: Is the privatization of the "justice" system that is the protection of bad builders.It assists shoddy builders, with bulging pockets, preying on the public. It is easy to see why all the adds, for new homes and the multitude of thrown up housing is so rampant. There is no protection for the purchaser. You are paying for eye candy, these houses will never make the historical register.

So far we have paid over $10,000 dollars in arbitration costs for the privilege of being made homeless in Houston, and this is just the beginning. New home buyers are surpose to buy and shut up. And you had better shut up or under the new laws you are considered a "dispute" and will be dealt with accordingly by the builders, their lawyers and if necessary the Arbitration process.

The Process You are not going to be a repeat offender in AAA. You will be broke after one visit. The builders will be back . Now, ask yourself ... if you were an arbitrator would you rule against your continuous meal ticket or against one poor homeowner who will probably never be able to afford another home in their lifetime? Do you think if perhaps the arbitrator ruled in favor of a new homeowner that they would be chosen by the builder as an arbitrator ever again? Do you know that law firms like the one defending my builder have a AAA arbitrator in the firm. Do you think if you go to AAA and get our builder's AAA arbitrator.... he will rule against his biggest client and in YOUR favor? These are just thoughts I ponder.

Tort Reform My husband and are seeing how tort reform really works, up close and personal. I refer to tort reform as the deformed privatization of the justice system. The system that continues to favor big business. We the people, are forced to conform and be the collateral damage of tort reform. Big builders employ big law firms, pricey lawyers, lawyers the majority of us could never afford. Lawyers that have become proficient in this tort refrom/arbitration process....because they get so much practice.

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Protection for the homebuyers There is no protection for the homebuyers. If he buys a defective home with a bad roofs, water intrusion, buckling floors, leaking windows installed upside down, mold, pluming that is not connected or cracked foundations it is truly a buyer beware market and a buyer be dammed situation.

No one will help you. You will however be referred , referred to an unbelievable anomaly of acronyms. Acronyms that have tried this one woman's' soul: DTPA, AAA, BBB, TRCC, SIRP, RCLA, the DA, and the AG.
After none of these abbreviations help you, you are told to go to your city council, the mayor, to Austin, to the legislature, your representatives, your senators and your congressmen and congresswomen.
Lewis Carol's imaginary rabbit hole. Everyone passes the buck, and it is your buck.

Not one of these agencies or representatives will take action, give you a straight answer or guidance ... they will however pat you on the head and give you a raft of papers to occupy your time. They will also provide you with a list of the fees for their non services and insincerity and send you some where else. I was even sent to the health department and they were the nicest of all. They at least offered to find us temporary housing.

We were filed on in arbitration last year by a notoriously bad builder Tremont/Stature. After 8 months we were dismissed ... only to find out we still had not earned our seventh amendment rights back ... and still did not have the right to sue. We were compelled back into arbitration, again ...and back in arbitration is where we find ourselves today. Even with the over whelming evidence in our own builders words of his admitted fraud the burden of proof is on us.

The date for the culmination of this cunning, criminal activity will be September 21.2006. For your information and possible education I hope you will follow our case. If you are planning to buy a new home in Houston realize you may be the next victim. Our numbers are increasing at an alarming rate.

In a case pending in the courts #2003-16820... Stature Construction Company, our builder's CEO, Jorge L. Casimiro states, under oath about our subdivision Hydepark

"project damage includes roofing systems...resulting in water damage,penetration to interior of the units, the interior units damage includes sheet rock, insulation, wall studding, electrical wiring and boxes, pluming, A/C duck work, flooring...both hard wood and carpet and interior painting."

Yet, unbelievable as it sounds ... the burden of proof is on us, the homebuyers ... and at our expense. We have to prove what the builder has already admitted and has documented expert testimony.

( Mr. Casimiro is on the Harris County Housing Authority to assist with the building of homes for the poor and the elderly) He was appointed by long time friend Judge Robert Eckels. Judge Eckels is aware of Mr. Casimiro's continued transgressions.)

The city of Houston inspected these houses? Are these inspections like drive-bys? We are senior citizens we wanted to buy a new home so we wouldn't be bothered with repairs things wearing out, breaking.and constant upkeep. We could never have imagined the first night in our new home, when my husband pulled the drain in our new garden Jacuzzi tub, that 100 gallons of water would come crashing though our dining room ceiling and flood the living room and dinning room then seep though the hardwood floors and flood the garage below. We had no way of knowing this was just previews of coming attractions...for the next 29 months.

Everyone wants their own home. We are senior citizens and we earned ours. My husband is seventy-one years old. We continue to live in an apartment. Our things are in storage while we continue to spend our days tormented by the same people who made us homeless.

Jordan Fogal 713-802-9727
3003 Memorial Court Apt #2407
Houston, Texas 77007
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Please google my name, Jordan Fogal for national articles and media written on the travesty of justice occurring in Houston. Thank you.

Posted by: Jordan Fogal | October 4, 2006 2:49 PM

Justinian: "It's a legislative issue." Absolutely true.

Would the DMI support the passage of this statute at the state level because it is just? In real life, not just the blog universe.

"The laws of torts, and the rules of civil procedure of this state apply to the licensed lawyer."

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2006 8:33 PM

Justinian and Cyrus: I just read your profiles. I mistook you for junior ATLA hacks. You are a college kid and an idealistic, recent law school grad, respectively. I take back all my acerbic or offensive remarks. You are doing a great job. Keep it up, gentlemen.

I want Tilson to post. Stop hiding, Tilson. Tilson is an adversary of medicine with much to answer for. I am going to help him.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | October 9, 2006 10:18 PM