Justinian Lane

Representative Tom Davis opposes Congressional investigations because plaintiffs might benefit.

Carter Wood at Point of Law reports that certain members of the House Oversight Committee seem to think there's something wrong with overseeing: 

Thankfully, some balance come from the ranking member of the committee, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), who gave an opening statement that reflected the real world difficulties that FEMA and the industry encountered after the disaster. Davis recounted the different reports on formaldehyde levels from tests conducted by the CDC and commented (our emphasis):

That leaves trailer occupants, already victimized by one storm, caught in a lingering tempest of post-Katrina political scapegoating, bureaucratic finger-pointing, and litigation. Once again the Committee risks being used as a discovery proxy for plaintiffs suing companies called to testify before us. Instead, we should be asking FEMA why contract requirements for habitable mobile units weren't more specific, why inspection procedures weren't consistent, and why heath concerns didn't trigger standardized testing and, where necessary, prompt remediation. We should be asking federal science and health agencies how to establish, and measure, workable standards for formaldehyde exposure in realistic settings.

Source: | PointOfLaw Forum: House Oversight used as a 'discovery proxy'

Obviously, it's much better for Congress to sit on its hands and do nothing, rather than risk that they'll turn up misdeeds that may lead to litigation. 

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Posted at 1:48 PM, Jul 10, 2008 in Civil Justice
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It's pretty clear from his statement that Rep. Davis opposes Congress: "being used as a discovery proxy for plaintiffs suing companies called to testify...[i]nstead of [Congress] asking FEMA [and] federal science and health agencies [certain questions]." I mean, it's right there.

I'm not sure how you interpret this as meaning that Rep. Davis "opposes Congressional investigations because plaintiffs might benefit." Where did he say anything like that?

And his words clearly do not mean that he "think[s] there’s something wrong with overseeing." What led you to that conclusion?

Nor does anything in his statement indicate that he believes "it’s much better for Congress to sit on its hands and do nothing." Clearly, asking FEMA and other agencies questions is not "nothing."

Maybe the block-quote and the posts just got mixed up.

Posted by: Lawyer | July 10, 2008 5:07 PM

I gotta agree with Lawyer here.

It appears you only read the sentence that you bolded, interpreted it in a way that makes your point, and didn't bother reading the rest. Above all, your interpretation is wrong.

If anything it sounds like Rep. Davis wants all the shenanigans (finger pointing, scapegoating, & litigation) to go away and let the real oversight begin. It's a shame some lawyers are causing delays.

Posted by: Adam | July 10, 2008 5:19 PM

I read Davis' statement as suggesting that Congress shouldn't be investigating the companies at issue. There was another article entitled something along the lines of "Don't blame manufacturers, blame the government" in which another representative blamed the government for the dangerous trailers instead of the manufacturers.

Perhaps both are to blame, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with Congress digging as deep as it can into this issue. If some of the documents it discovers end up being used by plaintiffs - too bad.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | July 10, 2008 5:46 PM

In the words of Justinian Lane, "it is dishonest to use an author’s quote in a manner he disapproves of without at least noting that disapproval."

This post, by Justinian's own definition, is not only dishonest, but hypocritical.

Posted by: Ted | July 16, 2008 6:21 PM

Ted, point me to where Davis says he disapproves of this usage. You can't.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | July 16, 2008 6:40 PM