Have seen those ads on TV–or gotten them in the mail–asking if you were harmed by some product or procedure because there are a bunch of lawyers somewhere preparing a class action suit to go after the makers of the product or the providers of the procedure?
They’re all over the place these days, reflecting the amazing litigiousness of contemporary American society.
Have you heard news stories about fantastically large awards being given to people as a result of such lawsuits?
Those are all over the place, too.
What’s the cumulative effect of such lawsuits?
No doubt, it makes manufacturers and service providers more careful in what they present to the market, knowing that they could get sued if someone gets hurt.
That needs to happen.
But might the cumulative effect of such lawsuits result in companies becoming too risk averse? If that were to happen then the public would be denied products and procedures that would make life better and that could even save lives.
John Stossel argues that this is what’s happening:
Union Carbide has invented a small portable kidney dialysis machine. It would make life much easier for people with kidney disease, but Union Carbide won’t sell it. With legal sharks circling, the risk of expensive lawsuits outweighs the possible profit.
Are you pregnant and nauseous? Bendectin would probably cure your morning sickness. For 27 years doctors prescribed the drug to 33 million women because it was so good at stopping nausea and vomiting. But you can’t buy Bendectin today because lawyers kept suing the manufacturer, Merrell Dow, claiming the drug caused birth defects.
Studies did not show that Bendectin caused birth defects, and Merrell Dow won most of the lawsuits. But after spending $100 million in legal fees and awards, the company gave up selling the drug. Bendectin has never been effectively replaced, and morning sickness is now a major contributor to dehydration during pregnancy.
Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, says, "Within two years of discontinuing Bendectin, the incidence of hospitalization for dehydration during early pregnancy doubled; the incidence of birth defects was unchanged."
Those are just some of the life-enhancing products we know we must do without because America’s peculiar legal system makes it profitable for trial lawyers to pursue extortion — like litigation. What wonderful products will we never even hear about because the lawyers have created a climate of fear?
On the other hand:
Fear of being sued reduced the number of American companies researching contraceptives from 13 to two.
Whatever one ultimately concludes, it’s worthwhile to
GET THE STORY.