Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reforming Tort Reform

HBO fires off what may prove to be a new battle for your hearts and minds over the issue of tort reform, with the film Hot Coffee.

Besides your basic legal and human rights, there are a few issues to consider whenever discussing the issue of Torts and the fight over them.

First: there are vast amounts of money involved in both sides. When I say "vast", I mean billions. Richard Scruggs became one of the world's wealthiest people by litigating torts. The insurance companies and other firms pushing for tort reform are also some of the largest corporations in the world. In this environment, it's nearly impossible to keep the actual rights of citizens at the forefront.

Secondly: There are massive political implications and involvements on both sides of this issue. For the last thirty years, races from local judges to governors to congress all the way to the president of the united states, all are heavily influenced by the issue of tort reform.

Thirdly: The right initially fought this issue by using anecdotes like the McDonald's Coffee suit, which the film explodes, but proceeds to argue the case for the left using new anecdotes of their own. Just like the Right uses talk radio to propagandize you, the Left now uses documentary films. Neither does a very good job of helping regular people make clear and rational decisions on these issues.

Fourthly: The marketing of this film has nothing to do with the film itself, and there has been a huge, huge push for the marketing of this film, nine or ten times the amount of money normally spent on a documentary film; and it comes not from the people wishing to profit from the film, but from the people wishing to score some sort of support for political reform from it.

Fifthly: The trailer for this film is incredibly misleading, jumping from case to case giving the clear impression that they are all one issue. The most egregious example being the jump cut from footage of the hot coffee case to a clip of Al Franken saying "She was Drugged! She was raped!", from a completely unrelated case.

Sixthly: If you think the guys on the left of this issue are unreasonable and dishonest, the guys on the right are worse!

It's important that you're able to make up your own mind on this issue without the Trial Lawyers or the Chamber of Commerce or any of the other involved entities making it up for you.  Watch the film but keep in mind that it aint the whole story either, and be watching for a return volley from the right to come soon after.

No comments: