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Parasitic Tort Lawyers

Comment

Tort lawyers lie. They say their product liability suits are good for us. But their lawsuits rarely make our lives better. They make lawyers and a few of their clients better off — but for the majority of us, they make life much worse.

Years back, as one of America's first consumer reporters, I'd avenge harmed consumers by bringing cameras to the offending business and confronting the crooks. My work warned others about the dangers in the marketplace but didn't do much for the victims.

So I thought about those personal injury lawyers. They could do more good — they could sue bad companies, force them to change and get the victims money. I started referring hurt consumers to lawyers.

Imagine my shock when consumers called to say their lawyers took most of the money!

Even when the lawyers do help their clients, they hurt everyone else because fear of their lawsuits takes away many good things: Swimming pools, playgrounds and gymnastics programs close because liability insurance is so expensive. Kids lose their favorite places to hang out in the summer.

More importantly, innovators dump potentially life-saving inventions. Companies that started work on a safer asbestos substitute, an AIDS vaccine and a Lyme disease vaccine gave up the research because any work in those areas risked stirring up the lawyers. The liability risk was too great.

It's why I've come to think of lawyers the way I think about nuclear missiles. We need them to keep us safe. But we avoid using missiles because we understand the collateral damage they do. We ought to avoid lawyers for the same reason.

Look at health care. The lawyers claim they punish bad doctors and win compensation for injured patients, and their suits add "less than 2 percent to the cost." But there is another side to that story.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, chairman of obstetrics at Hackensack University Medical Center, points out that 1 or 2 percent is just the direct cost. The indirect costs are far higher because suits force doctors and hospitals to practice defensive medicine and do unnecessary tests.

"If ... you walk in (an emergency room) with a headache, what do they do? They order a CAT scan, an MRI, you name it, " Alvarez said.

They do surgery on people who may not need it. That's safer for the doctor, although it's not safer for the patients.

Vice presidential candidate John Edwards made $40 million to $80 million — he won't say how much — pushing tort lawsuits, many of them related to cerebral palsy, which he attributed to doctors not doing C-sections.

What happened afterward? C-sections increased from 7 percent of all births to over 30 percent.

This is why I call lawyers "parasites." C-sections are bad for lots of reasons. They cost much more, they require a longer hospital stay, and they are riskier to the woman.

Have the extra C-sections at least reduced the rate of cerebral palsy? No. Not a bit. Turns out that, in most cases, the lawyers were wrong.

They were wrong about silicone breast implants, too. But they sure aren't giving the money back.

One of the most successful trial lawyers is Geoffrey Fieger. His law firm bills itself as the top personal injury firm in America.

"The higher ups in our society are protected really by the law, and the only thing an ordinary person can do is hire somebody like me, a warrior, to go after those higher-ups," he told me.

Fieger, like John Edwards, made millions on cerebral palsy cases. He denies that the C-section rate went up because doctors fear lawyers like him. He says doctors do C-sections to make money. Or because they are lazy. Of course, that makes me wonder why doctors weren't doing as many before the rash of lawsuits. Were doctors less lazy or less interested in money a few decades ago?

"I'm a trial lawyer," he said. "They turned the word trial lawyer into a four-letter word, and I'm telling you I'm the people's warrior, and I am proud to be an American trial lawyer."

And the money is good.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="http://www.johnstossel.com" <http://www.johnstossel.com>>johnstossel.com</a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC.

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Comments

38 Comments | Post Comment
I received an email from a class action lawsuit. This was against an online travel agency. The times I used it the price was the best available, service was excelent. I did NOT know or feel I was wronged.
Somehow I was entitled to 95¢. (0.95) The lawyers received $10,000,000. (10M)
How much will travel costs go up due to these leaches?
Comment: #1
Posted by: JayS
Wed Jul 7, 2010 7:45 AM
I agree with you John,but the real problem is the "Greed" of the lawyers.  Anyone asking $250 plus per an hr. for their services is a sleaze bag.
Comment: #2
Posted by: V Barry Poole
Wed Jul 7, 2010 11:23 AM
I got my money only because of Trial Lawyers. My wife died from silicone breast implants. Thank god they made them stop killing women for a while.
Greedy corporation need to be policed. Look at BP
How much does Stossel make working for the corporations to attack the police?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Jim Stafford
Thu Jul 8, 2010 10:28 AM
I have worked for a plaintiff's firm for nearly 20 years. We don't charge a fee - we don't get paid unless we win a case, so we HAVE to be selective about the cases we take. And I can tell you lawyers that doggone well deserve $250 an hour - divorce lawyers. They deserve more than that - you should see some of the goofy things that couples do to each other. How would YOU like to receive calls every holiday from clients whining "he picked up his son five minutes late - with his girlfriend in the car!!! and things of that nature? Divorce lawyers earn every dime, I assure you. And their clients are notorious for not telling the complete truth. Especially in child custody cases. I have watched the lawyers in my firm work nights and weekends for our clients. There are bad apples in every profession - to paint all Trial Lawyers with the same dirty brush makes me wonder what YOUR agenda, is, Mr. Stossel.
I've seen this type of journalism before. Reader's Digest sent a reporter to cover a story about one of our large verdicts. It wasn't until I saw that article in the magazine that I realized why so many people are so misinformed about lawsuits. And please - I hope nobody embarrasses themselves by bringing up the McDonald's verdict. Yes, coffee is supposed to be hot. But it's not supposed to burn your clothes deep into your skin which is what happened in that case.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Anna Marie
Thu Jul 8, 2010 10:34 AM
The Author and the Chamber say: "Dr. Manny Alvarez, chairman of obstetrics at Hackensack University Medical Center, points out that 1 or 2 percent is just the direct cost. The indirect costs are far higher because suits force doctors and hospitals to practice defensive medicine and do unnecessary tests.
"If ... you walk in (an emergency room) with a headache, what do they do? They order a CAT scan, an MRI, you name it, " Alvarez said.
They do surgery on people who may not need it. That's safer for the doctor, although it's not safer for the patients."
BUT---Dr. Alvarez and all of the other physicians who claim they are performing "defensive medicine and performing unnecesary tests" and billing insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid are committing Insurance and Medicare/Medicaid fraud that costs all of us upwards of $100 BILLION per year according to the government Accounting Office and others compared to the small cost allegedly imposed by tort suits and insurance companies that refuse to reduce their premiums when lawsuit reform is enacted--such as in Michigan with significant malpractice caps and other restrictions on malpractice suits.
TELL THE TRUTH MR. STOSSEL AND THE WHOLE TRUTH, NOT THE CHAMBER AND FOX NEWS TALKING POINTS AND STOP SCARING YOUR VIEWERS who need to turn to lawyers--and most do--including you and the politicians railing against lawyers because they covet the Chamber's campaign contributiosn.

Most physicians are competent professions practicing their professions in an honorable way. Point out the bad ones but do it in a responsibel professional manner like you did at the begionning of your career before you became a shill for the Chamber and Fox News--BUT I guess the money is too good to give it up!!!
Comment: #5
Posted by: David Haron
Thu Jul 8, 2010 11:12 AM
I agree that Tort Reform is needed, but not the restriction to sue, but rather the amount that the attorney can collect. There should be some sort of cap on their fees and those of the experts that they use. C-Sections have gone up for a variety of reasons. Some because woman such as Kelly Ripa who proclaimed on national tv that she had a c-section because she did not want anything to change "down there". Others do it to time the delivery. That goes for doctors and patients. I do believe that because of greedy malpractice insurance companies who continue to cover doctors who have been repeatedly sued and make bad investments, they have forced doctors to see as many patients as they can to help cover the costs. I have been to several orthopedic doctors who run their office like a production line. Five to six people are brought back at the same time and the doctor moves from 1 room to another, averaging about 10 minutes with each patient and then turn around and bill for a comprehensive visit. A comprehensive visit requires a certain length of time. If anyone were to audit their billing, they would see that there is no way that they could have seen that many patients in 1 day let alone 1 week with the office visit codes they use. I had one doctor who spent 10 minutes reading my long history into his dictophone and less than 5 minutes examining me, let alone asking me any questions about my complaints. I only go to university hospital doctors now. Their malpractice insurance is covered by the hospital and they tend to be better qualified and spend more time with you. My neurologist is the head of neurology at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. When I see him, we meet in his office first to discuss my current status. He then takes me to examination room for an exam and then afterwards, I meet him back in his office to discuss what actions he believes are necessary. When my father was still alive and a patient of his, I would always accompany him. At times, he would examine me if he did not like what he saw. He did not charge me nor did he take time away from my father's visit. He comes from a generation where the patient comes first. I am sure that Gerald Ford was glad to have him when he had a mini-stroke at the Philadelphia Republican National Convention. He spends the time I need. He doesn't book patients 5 minutes apart. Sometimes, I may have to wait (which is not that often and usually not that long), but when I do, I know it is because he is giving his patient the time that they need. Too many other doctors are interested in volumne and not quality. I recently went to a cardiologist who charged my carrier $47 for smoking censation. He spent less than 3 minutes telling me why I should not smoke. Why on earth was this charged seperately. Shouldn't that have been part of my examination. I didn't know that giving advise costs extra. Silly me thought it was part of the costs of the visit. I was a victim of medical malpractice. I had a lung punctured in 2 locations while receiving a trigger point injection. After waiting 1/2 hour to see her, I was her last patient of the day. She was obviously in a rush to finish. Even her assistant noted that the fluid did not want to leave the needle. Rather than repositioning the needle, she continued to poke it around until she finally found a spot that allowed the medication to be released. As I was leaving the office, I couldn't make a follow-up exam because the girls at the front had shut down the computers. The lights in the waiting room was off and they had to unlock the door in order to let me out. I did not know that there was a chance of a punctured lung. I was never told. She told me I would sore since the muscle knot was so big and to put ice on it when I got home. I was not given any instructions on what symptoms to look for in case the lung had been punctured. That night after the novacaine wore off, I started having pain in my ribs. I put the ice on it as she said. The next day, I woke up and could barely breathe. After waiting for 4 hours in the ER, they had to perform surgery in the ER. I had to have a chest tube in me for 8 days. I called her after a couple of days to let her know what happened. She immediately got defensive and tried to say that she told me that this could happen, which was not true. I never even signed anything stating what the warnings were. I did not go after her for millions of dollars. I settled for $25,000. I only wanted something to make up for my lost wages and something for the pain and suffering that I went through. It was not a pleasant ordeal. I really thought I was going to die at the beginning. Her office instituted new policies and no trigger point injections are done in the office now. Although, the insurance company may feel like they won, I really did. I was the one who put out the settlement amount that I wanted. They made changes so that it could not happen to anyone else. Doctors need to change the way they are dong business and go back to putting the patient first or their will be more and more lawsuits. The insurance companies need to drop doctors who repeatedly make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. That happens. But when 1 to 2 percent of the doctor's who are responsible for these suits are allowed to get insurance and the AMA doesn't do anything to educate them or take away their license, lawsuits will remain. Also malpractice carriers need to stop being so greedy by making high risk investments and then when the market goes down, they pass that on to the doctor's who then pass it on to the people and the insurance companies and the soon to be ObamaCare
Comment: #6
Posted by: Terry Land
Thu Jul 8, 2010 11:37 AM
It always amazes me how some people criticize and hate lawyers - until they need one of course. Then, perhaps for the first time in their lives, they understand that the lawyer they've hired is the only person able to help them navigate the legal system, to help them get compensation from an insurance company for injuries someone else caused; injuries which ruined their lives, caused them to lose their jobs, their homes and many times their marriages. I wonder if John Stossel would hire a lawyer if a truck ran a red light, slammed into the driver door of his vehicle and paralyzed him.....think he'd fight the insurance company in court on his own? Think he'd want money from the driver/company that ruined his life? Think the insurance company would willingly pay over enough money to take care of Mr. Stossel without a legal fight? I think Mr. Stossel would quietly hire an attorney to represent him. Mr. Stossel and the others who criticze attorneys are only "cutting off their noses to spite their faces" -- without lawyers you can BET that there would be no way for the "regular guy" to stand up to the big corporations, the insurance companies, the people out there who could ruin their lives and never have to pay a dime for their actions. Would you take the weapon away from a soldier who is protecting you? Why would you want to create laws that disarm the very attorney you might need some day? And you think that lawyer shouldn't be paid for his time and effort? Do you resent paying your doctor, your auto mechanic....? When you hear the lawyer criticisms, just ask yourself...."do I want to be limited in a lawsuit if MY child were injured, or if my life was ruined by someone else?" Remember, the lawyer is YOUR soldier when you need him.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Renee Przybylski
Thu Jul 8, 2010 11:45 AM
Short to the point I fell orthopod recommended knee replacement, which I had followed by two years of pain, increasing difficulty walking, back spasms. Turns out I had a spinal tumor causing the symptoms, I did not need a knee replacement. I was almost paralyzed by the time the tumor was discovered. I tired to find a lawyer to take a look at this case and because all the attorneys used this orthopedic group for car accident testimony (I understand very lucrative for the attorney) they would not take the case. So fairness and justice are not the motivating factor for some of these attorneys it is potential income.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Elizabeth Smith
Thu Jul 8, 2010 11:57 AM
I agree with most of what John is sayig bu not all lwayers should be lumped into this caegory. It is mainly the personal injur lawyers, and not all ofthem, that fit i with most of this. Thre are many stupid law suits filed and worse won fo peple's own stupidity (Man sues Mconald because he spills hot coffee on himself) and cases wher there was no intentional wrong doing but because something di not go the way they thought it shod they sue. Wha is amusing about this article is the fact that ther are 2 ads fo Personal Injury lawyes - the exact low lifes referred to in this artice - included on te creen.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Stveen Miller
Thu Jul 8, 2010 12:08 PM
Attorney's have to charge that much to afford their cocaine habits.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Mark Schneider
Thu Jul 8, 2010 12:41 PM
This is an easy one to prove. Just look at past cases, it is all public knowledge.
How much did the lawyers get for the Ford bad tires lawsuit?
What about the case against the tobacco companies?
Remember the "toxic shock" case against Kotex?
Those figures would be shocking to say the least.
In the Ford case, final damages came to about 20 million. 15 million to the lawyers, 5 million for Ford to implement a public "tire" education program and less than 10k to the plaintiff. IIRC the plaintiff died.
Justice for all.
Comment: #11
Posted by: itswrong
Thu Jul 8, 2010 2:26 PM
Insurance companies have thousands of lawyers which they pay for with the premiums that you and I are required to give them. Yet when my insurance company refuses to live up to the terms of my insurance policy I am required to hire an attorney. I don't have the money that Allstate, State Farm, Farmers etc has. Without the willingness of an attorney to work for free unless I am proven right I could never afford to pay what the insurance industry pays. What Mr. Stossel wants to do is to allow the rich and powerful to slam the door to the court shut on me rather than to allow 12 average adult citizens to decide who is entitled to what is fair. The protection against misuse of the legal system is the jury which is made up of people just like you and I. We do not need big government to limit the citizen's rights to legal representation by taking away the rights we citizens have had since the founding of this country just to allow insurance companies to protect their profits and protect those companies which cause harm to the individual.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Rick Wallace
Thu Jul 8, 2010 2:28 PM
Mr. Stossell has made a name for himself as an anti-lawyer crusader, and has no doubt done so purely out of his love of mankind. I must assume that he works only for the benefit of the public, and that his bosses at the purely independent FOX NEWS have been directed by him to donate his salary to charity to further these lofty goals.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Michael Fitzpatrick
Thu Jul 8, 2010 2:52 PM
Mr. Stossell has made a name for himself and a lucrative career as an anti-lawyer crusader, but has no doubt done so purely out of his love of mankind. I must assume that he works only for the benefit of the public, and that his bosses at the purely independent FOX NEWS have been directed by him to donate his salary to charity to further these lofty goals.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Michael Fitzpatrick
Thu Jul 8, 2010 2:55 PM
i am a lawyer. i file suits against companies that cause harm to people and defraud consumers. i have never knowingly filed a claim that did not have a sound basis in law and fact. yet in response to almost every suit i have filed, the defendants have pleaded absolutely frivilous and often factually false defenses. defense lawyers do this at the behest of corporations and others that want to avoid responsibility for the harm they cause. these same corporations finance massive misinformation campaigns against the civil justice system. they blame "evil trial lawyers," judges and juries for holding them accountable for their own wrongdoing. they sucker the public into giving up their rights and laugh all the way to the bank and board room. they do this through anecdotes, distortions and outright lies. As exposed by Consumer Reports magazine, many of the stories they have printed in national magazines are outright fabrications, i.e., lies.
it is true that there are greedy lawyers and evil lawyers. that is true of every profession. any person willing to believe that fox news and big corporations are looking out for the public more than the trial lawyers is a fool indeed.
Comment: #15
Posted by: honestlawyer
Thu Jul 8, 2010 2:56 PM
Re: David Haron
There are certainly good attorneys out there and I know one or two. Then there are the rest of the group, including politicians, of whom way too many are lawyers, that make it a maligned profession. Frankly, there are good reasons that your profession is so maligned. In addition to the truly sleazy behavior of some of your colleagues is the very minimal effort of the profession to police its members.
As an example, friends of mine were forced into bankruptcy through a combination of illness and injuries due to a traffic accident that was not their fault. While they were fighting with Social Security for a clearly justified disability claim (for which they required yet another lawyer), they fell behind in their bills, including the first mortgage secured by their home. During the proceedings, the bankruptcy trustee was fully aware of the situation. She knew there was plenty of equity in the house to cover the unsecured debt. She also knew about the disability claim as well as the lawsuit against the driver of the other car. (For those who don't know, a trustee is usually a lawyer appointed by the court, run by a judge/lawyer, whose job is to try to get creditors paid.) During the process, my friends did finally get a ruling from Social Security that they were entitled to their disability claim and Social Security paid the back amounts owed, about $18,000 less attorney fees. The trustee petitioned to seize this money. My friends wanted to use it to bring their mortgage and car payments current, in other words, to pay secured creditors who are first in line to get paid anyway. The judge ruled against the trustee, and my friends used the money to pay the mortgagee the delinquent amounts. The trustee then appealed the judge's decision and hired her own firm to do the legal work. She ran up $20,000 in legal fees to try to collect the $18,000. These fees get added to the debts of the bankruptcy estate, which means my friends ultimately have to pay them. Also, these fees get paid before any of the unsecured creditors. They are also a feather in the cap of the trustee in her ultimate personal desire to become a partner in her law firm, since generating revenue for the firm is job one in that quest. She clearly did a great disservice to both debtors and creditors. The only beneficiaries of her action were her and her law firm. I don't think anyone needs to know much about right and wrong or ethics to see how completely abhorrent this action was. I later helped my friends draft a complaint to the state bar association about this. The bar, a group of clearly ethically challenged lawyers, ruled that there was nothing unethical in this behavior. IS IT ANY WONDER SO MANY PEOPLE HATE LAWYERS! There is even more despicable behavior that occurred here that I don't have room to detail. I can document everything I said. The bankruptcy lawyer my friends had was one of the few good guys in this case. Unfortunately, by the time he took over the case from their first, incompetent lawyer, there was not much he could do. The trustee had already run up the legal fees and was now threatening to take their house. Mr. Heron, I submit that because of widespread behavior like this and the complete willingness of you and others like you to allow it to continue, you have the reputation you deserve. I only wish I could help give you all more of what you deserve.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Careful Observer
Thu Jul 8, 2010 2:59 PM
Why is it that we never hear anything about "bad" lawyers who work for Wall Street firms, big banks, the oil industry, insurance companies, defense contractors, the food industry and so on? No, the only ones singled out are those who fight for the rights of the little guy. We are often the only way people can get even a modicum of justice when something happens to then that is not their fault. Even John Stossel got an attorney when he was assaulted by Hulk Hogan. The propaganda campaign against tort lawyers only is being directed by the US Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber puts out story after story about how bad we are for the country. But there is NEVER any source material that would allow any follow up to these lies and distortions. The next time you hear the Chamber knock lawyers, ask for the facts. Also ask them why they are attacking only those lawyers who fight for the little guy but not a peep about the lawyers, for example, who are protecting BP.
Comment: #17
Posted by: gosslaw
Thu Jul 8, 2010 3:34 PM
did not stossel get $400  K settlement from his own LAWSUIT ALLEGING HE WAS HURT DOING A STORY????  not so hurt after he pocketed his settlement $$$ is he??  whose the sleazy one john???
Comment: #18
Posted by: gary
Thu Jul 8, 2010 7:38 PM
My experience with lawyers is not very extensive, however, the two firms/individuals I have had the misfortune of dealing with have been nothing but lousy, money grubbing pigs. The attorneys for the opposing side were also horrible, rude, and mean. Unless I have a sign on my back I don't know about that says, "All lawyers: be nasty and treat me like crap---even if you represent me"... from what I have seen, they are a greedy, shameless, and uncaring bunch .
Comment: #19
Posted by: Christin
Thu Jul 8, 2010 7:53 PM
A journalist calling a lawyer a parasite? What a hypocrite. My clients know I work diligently to protect them from those insurance companies Stossel is so worried about. Stossel writes that lawyers make insurance premiums rise. Insurance premiums rise to protect bazillion dollar profit margins. Anyone—anyone—who argues for the protection of insurance company profits is the real parasite.
Comment: #20
Posted by: GB
Thu Jul 8, 2010 9:26 PM
It's amazing to me what sorts of rationalizations and justifications (all self-serving) have been posted by people supporting trial lawyers. All goods & services require liability insurance and Cover Your Ass (aka;CYA) procedures, neither of which add one iota of benefit to anyone but lawyers and insurance companies. This starts at the patent, to the raw materials, manufacture, distribution, marketting & sales. With each step the costs to us are amplified, until the price of goods & services are much higher than they need to be. This renders our goods less competitive on the global market, yielding less income to all Americans, except of course trial lawyers. The threat of lawsuits also unhinges one of the critical aspects of civilization: the freedom to apologize and fix the mistake. Any admission of fault becomes admissable as evidence of liability, and a hay-day for the vermin. Because of trial lawyers, we can't even say we're sorry, without of course handing over all our money. I could go on about the fact that, as a doctor, every time I write notes in my patients' charts, it feels like a forced confession (=exhibit A). Since all suits filed become public record, I say that we ought to consider denying any goods and services to trial lawyers,their families, and the people sueing doctors and drug companies. Let's see how happy they'll be when their winnings can't buy things they want or need.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Dr. M J Smart
Thu Jul 8, 2010 10:08 PM
Re: V Barry Poole
$250 per hour? What centruy are you living in? The attorneys handling the bankruptcy of Washington Mutual (a bank that cost all investors to lose all of their money) are charging $965 per hour... both sides (which gives them a real incentive to settle it in a timely fashion!!!
Comment: #22
Posted by: Douglas Hom
Fri Jul 9, 2010 12:08 AM
Re: Jim Stafford
My spouse also received money in this settlement BUT hte overall medical evidence of silicone damage is still not fully proven beyond doubt in the true scientific sense of the word. Nonetheless, because it COULD be associated with the disease entities purported (and probably IS but STATISTICALLY it is difficult to tell an true association beyond that assigned to pure chance in the general popoulation and the companies were essentially forced to settle because of the court of popular opinion). I am glad sufferers of these conditions were given recompense but the purely analytical side of me accepts that based sole on the TRUE strength of the evidence versus the likelihood of occurence in a population of this size ... comparatively and objectively taken.. a settlement would have been small indeed. In any event, the attorneys became insanely rich in this endeavor. The same happened with the breakup of IBM and AT&T and the ongoing attacks on Microsoft (which is less relevant due to the march of progress) .. little true public good occurrred and attorneys became ridiculously rich. Even if the CEOs (truly overpaid and inflated fat cats) were even further enriched, the amount of money lost to the public good in these suits is mindboggling!!
Comment: #23
Posted by: Douglas Hom
Fri Jul 9, 2010 12:16 AM
Re: David Haron
I'd be cautious as to the qualaity of that $100 billion fraud allegation. First, that is an awful lot of fraud to commit without being caught so I would be very certain just how the "fraud" was defined. If I miscode a charge or bill and collect from the wrong insurer, I often have to pay it back when the error is "caught" by the 3rd party. I did the work but billed the wrong party or possibly coded higher than the 3rd party finds acceptable depending on the documentation in the chart .. that technically can be lumped into fraud (though not legally only by an illdefined politcal definition) and yet there is no fraud involved and no fraudulent intent. If fraud and abuse is truly rampant in a mlignant sense, it is done systematically by people/groups ready to move at a moment's notice with payments sent to post office boxes, etd. Why would a physician, who is located at a fixed location for the reasonable past and foreseeable future, ever deliberately commit fraud? ... and those that do (and I suspect a few) don't cost very much money ... certainly not enough to nearly tally 100 billion in the course of a year, even if every physician were to be doing so. Most fraud is committed by those that can charge a lot of money for multiple services or items such that efforts can multiply (think medical equipment, testing, and medications). The 100 billion quoted, which I think is inaccurate, does not accumulate through physicians buy through the multibillion system that happens around physicians. It's a GREAT field to acquire a lot of fraudulent money, just not if you are a physicain.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Douglas Hom
Fri Jul 9, 2010 12:29 AM
Re: Elizabeth Smith

for the first time in their lives, they understand that the lawyer they've hired is the only person able to help them navigate the legal system, to help them get compensation from an insurance company for injuries someone else caused; injuries which ruined their lives, caused them to lose their jobs, their homes and many times their marriages

Elizabeth,
I have people I love who are attorneys .. and ethical .. nonetheless, the ability to disrupt other lives in the routine pursuit of their day can be intoxicating nad corruptive. You are correct, traversing the legal system requires skilled guidance, but the reason you need an attorney to do battle for you is at least in part because they have designed the system and have fought any changes that might make it more accessible to the average citizen's use WITHOUT an attorney .. serious barriers are placed between a citizen and legal recourse even if using a qualified legal aid for simple stuff. Even the practice of medicine has expanded to allow limited treatment authority to nonphysicians (though not always wisely). Many disputes can be settled with common sense or even binding arbitration. The legal system is designed to be ADVERSARIAL in nature, which is why your attorney often will fight almost unreasonably for you .. that is thier mandate unless you tell them otherwise. Check out HALT, an organization of attorneys whose mission is to reduce the amount of legal abuse and tyranny in this country. They do an awfully good job in trying to protect the public and are not scam artists. I donate to them (small amounts) routinely. I hope others will look at this industry watchdog. Feel free to see if they are legit. You will find that they are.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Douglas Hom
Fri Jul 9, 2010 12:42 AM
Re: Terry Land
Do you expect the MDs to work for free? If you do, you are an idiot!!!
Comment: #26
Posted by: Charles Manuel
Fri Jul 9, 2010 6:46 AM
Dear Mr. Stossel,

I was a victim of a frivilous lawsuit by a mentally ill person however I was more victimized by the liar lawyers than the plaintiff in my case.

Anyone who knew this person could immediately see that he was sick and they should not have pursued this case.

In the end before the lawyers on both sides made an icredibly amnount of money he decided to settle but not after it cost me a fortune.

What can a victim like me do to rectify this situation? I am a retired senior citizen and need my money to live on not to give to the liar lawyers on both sides.

I was fotunate to find an honest lawyers but not before it cost me at least half of my savings.

I amn actually afraid to send this beause I am afraid of thge lawyers finding out and suiing me for whatever they think they can get out of me. I literally almost had to declare bankruptcy to settle my case.

m.s.
Comment: #27
Posted by: m.s
Fri Jul 9, 2010 7:02 AM
I totally agre with John. These lawyers are the biggest liars and cheats on this earth.
When you go to a lawyer he becomes not your adversary but your enemy and a crook and cheat who only knows how to make your case bigger than it should be and steal your money.
M.S
Comment: #28
Posted by: m.s
Fri Jul 9, 2010 7:05 AM
Re: Renee Przybylski
Renee, no need to wonder what Stossel would do if he was injured by another, in 1984 John Stossel was interviewing David Schultz, a professional wrestler. When John questioned him about whether wrestling was fake, David slapped him to the ground (twice). (See video here: http://wrestlinggonewrong.com/video/igw_schultz_slap.html) Afterwards, Stossel hired an attorney and sued for his injuries and damages. The matter was settled for $400,000.00. Was Stossel's injury fake? Was he not entitled to seek damages for his injuries? Perhaps David Schultz could see into the future and was slapping him around because of the huge hypocrite he saw Stossel becoming!
Also, to Douglas Horn, Comment #25, while you are correct that many disputes could be resolved between people without an attorney, when you are seeking monetary damages (there is no other form of compensation for personal injury!) The Defendant, in the majority of cases, has INSURANCE. They are in the BUSINESS of making money by accepting premiums and minimizing payouts. I can't tell you how many clients have come to me only AFTER they tried to resolve the claim with an insurance company (meanwhile, their agents are busily working out ways to harm the Plaintiff if they ever wise up and get an attorney), only to get shafted by them. While Plaintiff's may be reasonable, insurance companies, like most multi-billion dollar corporations, are not. Tort reform is ultimately corporate welfare. (Please prevent our insured's from being sued for the injuries they caused because it's costing us $$$!)
Comment: #29
Posted by: Steven
Fri Jul 9, 2010 9:34 AM
John Stossel's column is misguided at best, and flagrantly idiotic. The small degree of truth that some lawyers abuse the system should not give rise to this outright attack on our social defenders.

It is sad to see how far his journalistic integrity has fallen from the days of 20/20 to his current state as a whore for Fox News. John claims to be a consumer protector and advocates for a "free market" but takes this ludicrous position denigrating the only check on corporate corruption...lawyers.
Comment: #30
Posted by: Consumer Advocate
Fri Jul 9, 2010 11:47 AM
Here is some entertaining video of John Stossel getting slapped by a wrestler for which he filed a lawsuit. Notice John running away (like a scared little girl) and receiving no substantial injury. However, he did FILE A LAWSUIT and reached an out of court settlement whereby he collected serious ca$h.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SACE1tPEcbc
Comment: #31
Posted by: Consumer Advocate
Fri Jul 9, 2010 12:55 PM
I don't have time to read all of the above. I can only make one comment: Everyone that has been injured by the negligence of another deserves to be compensated. It is time consuming and expensive. Why is it that everyone complains about attorneys UNTIL they need one?
Comment: #32
Posted by: Scott
Fri Jul 9, 2010 1:59 PM
Re: David Haron
You must be a lawyer!
Comment: #33
Posted by: Sal
Sat Jul 10, 2010 1:29 PM
John have you wondered why the lawyers amass vast fortunes ?? Their "Contingency Fee" practice has been illegal since before the colonists came to this country !! It was known that for a lawyer to become a party to the suit, on an if-come agreement, it was so easy, so unprofessional , and so unethical that it was a crime to steal money that way so the courts of England made it illegal and called it CHAMPERTY !! The legal profession knew that and had enough ethics and pride not to do it until the last few decades. Now , ignoring the ethics and criminal behavior, they have weaseled into the practice making vast sums of money and giving much of it to the politicians to look the other way. So that now, they are all complicit. A lawyer in Ireland was taken to their Supreme court and the court found the practice to be a crime , as it always had been and reinstated it again as a crime . I have a copy of the Wall Street Journal covering the case, describing exactly what these lawyers are doing there and here and why it is so lacivious. I would be happy to FAX you a copy so that you may pursue this and hopefully cleanse this country or this scourge. Thank you, Jim Sloan, 7 Flagler Lane, Apt. 104; Holly HIll , FL 32117 . Phone 386-226-9625.

Comment: #34
Posted by: Jim Sloan
Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:02 PM
Re: Jim Stafford If this is true then I'm sorry for your loss. However, I don't believe that silicone breast implant manufacturers are in the business of trying to kill people. They wouldn't make much money if they did.
Comment: #35
Posted by: David McLean
Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:39 PM
Re: David Haron Point out the lies to me so that I may understand. Please, explain to me the truth unbiased of your personal feelings. I want facts man!!!
Comment: #36
Posted by: David McLean
Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:41 PM
Re: Renee Przybylski Maybe if the laws were written in clear and concise language then we wouldn't need lawyers to help us as much. The ability to muddle the language into incoherent sentences is the way that lawyers keep out laymen.
Comment: #37
Posted by: David McLean
Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:43 PM
"Tort lawyers lie". Spin, Color, Distort, Lie. At what point does such communication from credentialed and educated? individuals constitute FRAUD! Criminal FRAUD! INTENT is a factor!
Comment: #38
Posted by: Clifford
Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:48 AM
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