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Increasingly Litigious Culture?

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  • 16-08-2015 11:56pm
    #1
    Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭


    Currently in a javahouse discussion of changing California culture, and a joke had been made that everyone born in California had the middle name sue. Rather than making reference to the female name, they were humourously suggesting that the state had become too litigious.

    I posed that it might be a US national trend, rather than western regional, given the extraordinary number of legal ads that were viewed in nationally syndicated telly stations to sue your doctor, pharmaceutical corporation, employer for asbestos exposure, next door neighbor's biting dog, and the person that bumped or crashed into your car, etc.

    Added to this, there seemed to be quite a few law-based seasonal telly shows and films that popularized the legal profession, and law schools appear at almost all flagship universities, in addition to law career colleges that frequent most metropolitan areas.

    It was further suggested in our coffee discussion that the law schools had produced too many lawyers, and as a consequence too much litigation as a result. This argument seemed a bit circular at first blush, but thought it might lead to an interesting discussion in our Anthropology, Sociology, and Culture forum.

    Comments?


Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,176 ✭✭✭Amerika


    Oh, I have spent my time in court fighting off frivolous suits. Personally I think one of the main reasons we have become so litigious in the US is because there is often little risk or downside to suing anyone and because so many lawyers are willing to take cases on a contingency basis.

    The best one was when we were sued by a former employee claiming age discrimination. I recall the judge sitting down with us and reviewing what the former employee had claimed when he interviewed her. We answered every charge with the truth. He then went back to speak to her and her attorney to confront them with our side of the story. Later he came back to us and said she admitted we were telling the truth and that the plaintiff was a lying, cheating piece of scum. But he wanted the case off his docket, and said we needed to make a settlement offer or he would look unfavorably on us for causing this to go to trial and waste his time as the plaintiff refused to drop the suit. Our lawyer said in this county if a judge says settle, you settle. Business is always considered the bad guy by the majority of judges here.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    Amerika wrote: »
    But he wanted the case off his docket, and said we needed to make a settlement offer or he would look unfavorably on us for causing this to go to trial and waste his time as the plaintiff refused to drop the suit. Our lawyer said in this county if a judge says settle, you settle.

    John Beisner in Discovering a Better Way: The Need for Effective Civil Litigation Reform concluded:
    Rather than promoting fairness and efficiency in the American legal system, plaintiffs today often use discovery in an abusive and vexatious manner to coerce defendants into accepting quick settlements

    Litigation has been increasing in the US, as has settlements to avoid going to trial by defending parties. E-discovery has "exacerbated the problem," according to Beisner.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,616 ✭✭✭Fox_In_Socks


    "A Lawyer" according to Ambrose Bierce's The Devils Dictionary, is "one skilled in the circumvention of the law"

    I see how you use lawyer as you are US based and not solicitor? Is there a reason why Ms Lawyer will serve the law and who will represent in court Mr Baker who bakes against the fiend, the dastardly rakish opportunistic defendant Mr Teacher who teaches in their court battle about a minor bumper scrape which was witnessed by Mrs Farmer who farms?

    Whereas over here and in the UK, Ms Solicitor...solicits.:pac:




  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    I see how you use lawyer as you are US based and not solicitor?
    Since the topic pertained to the "Increasingly Litigious Society" found in California and the United States, we used their common occupational title "lawyer" rather than our solicitor title in Éire. In any case, including solicitors and litigation in Éire for comparison purposes would be grand.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,176 ✭✭✭Amerika


    Black Swan wrote: »
    John Beisner in Discovering a Better Way: The Need for Effective Civil Litigation Reform concluded:



    Litigation has been increasing in the US, as has settlements to avoid going to trial by defending parties. E-discovery has "exacerbated the problem," according to Beisner.

    I’ve wasted hundreds of hours on Discovery. The example I gave was a case of the person going to a litigation law firm that takes on every case with a goal of getting small settlement offers. They sent me a 10 page boilerplate Discovery questionnaire, and didn’t even take enough care to change the names of parties from another suit of theirs. Took me days to complete.

    As our lawyer told us… A matter of principle will cost you tens of thousands of dollars in my legal fees… And you are guaranteed to win! Does that really make sense if we can settle for a few thousand?

    We had another case in NYC where a company was suing us. We had to hire a lawyer out of NYC. He told us how it works there. In low profile civil cases between two companies, it usually comes down to this: Their lawyer will have his contacts make monetary donations to the judges campaign. We then need to have my contacts make a donation more then theirs to his campaign. The biggest donor wins the civil case.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    Patent protections were originally intended to allow an inventor to exploit and benefit from his/her intellectual property discoveries and creations for a period of time without having to worry about someone else, perhaps with greater resources, jumping in on their discoveries and seizing and exploiting them before the inventor could benefit.

    Originally such patent protections encouraged inventions and innovations, but this litigious culture has gone mad, perverting the patent process so that NPEs (non-practicing entities) can loosely patent virtually every conceivable idea and process that may occur in the future, and then sue any future inventor for royalties. Although these NPEs many not have the exact design patented, or otherwise make a frivolous lawsuit, they all too often get royalties or some other form of compensation in settlements which the original inventor pays because they cannot afford a costly and years-drawn-out legal battle with a larger NPE corporation.

    Small inventors are not the only targets of NPEs. These patent trolling NPEs exhibit opportunism in targeting of organisations that have a reduced ability to defend themselves, and larger aggregations of NPEs will join together to target larger corporations in hopes of getting larger cash settlements. Although the larger corporation may have the legal resources to defend itself successfully, the legal battle delay may cost the larger corporation millions before going to market with its new product, so they pay to avoid legal delay.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,176 ✭✭✭Amerika


    Black Swan wrote: »
    Patent protections were originally intended to allow an inventor to exploit and benefit from his/her intellectual property discoveries and creations for a period of time without having to worry about someone else, perhaps with greater resources, jumping in on their discoveries and seizing and exploiting them before the inventor could benefit.

    Originally such patent protections encouraged inventions and innovations, but this litigious culture has gone mad, perverting the patent process so that NPEs (non-practicing entities) can loosely patent virtually every conceivable idea and process that may occur in the future, and then sue any future inventor for royalties. Although these NPEs many not have the exact design patented, or otherwise make a frivolous lawsuit, they all too often get royalties or some other form of compensation in settlements which the original inventor pays because they cannot afford a costly and years-drawn-out legal battle with a larger NPE corporation.

    Small inventors are not the only targets of NPEs. These patent trolling NPEs exhibit opportunism in targeting of organisations that have a reduced ability to defend themselves, and larger aggregations of NPEs will join together to target larger corporations in hopes of getting larger cash settlements. Although the larger corporation may have the legal resources to defend itself successfully, the legal battle delay may cost the larger corporation millions before going to market with its new product, so they pay to avoid legal delay.

    Does this post have anything to do with the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011 when the Obama White House and Congress made radical changes to protecting the fruits of the little inventor’s labor by throwing our patent system under the bus?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    Amerika wrote: »
    Does this post have anything to do with the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011 when the Obama White House and Congress made radical changes to protecting the fruits of the little inventor’s labor by throwing our patent system under the bus?

    A good summary for AIA changes, etc., was posted by the American Intellectual Property Law Association, but in reviewing this, I cannot find what you mean by "throwing our patent system under the bus." Specifics?


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