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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
There are far too many vulture-predators in America’s plaintiff bar. Especially in the personal injury crowd. These are lawyers who make fortunes from the misery of others. The latest chapter in their efforts to loot money from businesses is their plague of lawsuits being planned against businesses that reopen and allow workers back to work after the pandemic shutdown.
U.S. business owners are fearful that if they reopen and bring their employees back to work, they will face an onslaught of lawsuits by trial lawyers representing workers who get sick or die from the Chinavirus, no matter where they may have caught the disease. And it’s already happening, the plaintiff’s bar is already trying to cash in.
With our economy in steep decline and unemployment now over 36 million, it is essential that businesses reopen. If they don’t, on a large scale, another Depression is looming. And tens of millions of Americans are now without paychecks and are staring at personal financial disaster. The country needs to open up, with adequate safeguards set by a federal standard. If we don’t reopen, the “cure” of massive shutdowns will be worse than the disease.
But businesses are deterred from opening, for fear of a massive wave of litigation that will siphon off their money into the pockets of plaintiff attorneys. The businesses need protection, a liability shield so that if they act in good faith and adopt safe operating standards, they will not be dragged into the courtroom “Judicial Hellhole” by rapacious attorneys.
And don’t think it won’t happen. Lawsuits have already been filed against equipment manufacturers, cruise ship lines, universities, local governments, nursing homes, retailers, and others. There’s a long history of some plaintiff lawyers using dubious legal tactics and “shakedown” suits to put their pursuit of riches well above their duties as fiduciary “Officers of the Court”. They schemed this by colluding with plaintiffs and their junk science “experts” to punish business as a class.
You may recall when Shell unintentionally sold faulty gas to huge numbers of customers, and Shell’s $10 million payment went mostly to the lawyers, while the plaintiffs got about $100 each. Or the huge payments to plaintiffs made by Dow Corning for selling the silicone used in implants— thousands of legal cases— and the Institute of Medicine found no causal link between autoimmune disease and the breast implants. And don’t forget the swamp of asbestos litigation, the nation’s forever-money-faucet, where 6,000 companies were named as defendants who have paid close to $100 billion in damages, with only tiny portions going to those who truly suffered from asbestos diseases.
These lawyers seek out cases that can be expanded into huge mass torts allowing the lawyers to plunder millions while their clients get scraps or coupons.
Meanwhile what do the Democrats in Congress say about the effort to protect businesses from litigation? Well, they oppose liability protection for businesses that open up their doors. But, hey, no surprise there. Law firms and attorneys have “bundled up” and contributed hundreds of millions to individual members of Congress, to the state Democratic Campaign Committees, to the Senatorial and House Campaign funds, and to the political campaigns of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The Democrats know who they work for, and it’s not struggling businesses; Democrats, owned by the trial lawyers’ lobby, are looking to set up a “Plaintiff Lawyer Paycheck Act”, so they can create a “class-action boom” to reward their Dem donors in the plaintiff’s bar.
Bottom line: America’s companies need legislative reassurance that if they comply with strong worker-protection mandates, a king tide of plaintiff lawyers don’t surge in with malpractice or negligence lawsuits emerging from the pandemic. Plaintiff lawyers must be required by law to show significant evidence of willful or reckless misconduct, and need to be limited in their “ability to forum shop class actions in friendly state courts”, as the Wall Street Journal noted.
We cannot restart the U.S. economy unless American businesses open their doors and bring back the jobs, a legal high risk move for them, unless government protects them against zealous, predatory attorneys who are already impatiently planning to file thousands of frivolous lawsuits.