Justice, Tranquility and The Greed for Money
Lynn Hubbard is handicapped. She happens to also have her own law firm. In the past year, she sued more than 600 nearly irreproachable institutions for over two million dollars. Hubbard and her entourage of scheming lawyers have not done anything illegal. Some may argue that she has simply exercised her right to the legal system. In any case, Hubbard is part of the growing American society that has discovered large money in mass litigation. This rise in greedy and manipulative lawyers has provided Americans with a skewed financial interest in the American courtroom and has hindered the justice system as a whole. Congress must reexamine tort reform to provide Americans with a trustworthy and secure justice system from frivolous lawsuits. As American citizens we do it everyday: we see something wrong and form ideas of suing. Whether our intentions are resolute or passive, the simple gesture itself poses a series of questions for why Americans find the courtrooms a haven to the solutions for their troubles. Although our forefathers didn't plan on suits like suing McDonalds for serving hot coffee or causing obesity in children in America, they did create a judicial system that was easily accessible and fair. If examining the root of the problem, we must look back over 200 years ago, when our forefathers envisioned a country with justice and equality, without the idea of abusing the legal system with the intention of financial betterment in mind. In fact, over the past 50 years, America has resorted to the legal system with that exact intention. A major gateway to this broad social change occurred when congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This era, known as the "due process revolution," was when lawyers won criminal defendants the right to a lawyer and a hearing (Jost). The aged and disabled began fighting for their rights, and eventually employees in the workplace caught on to the courtroom trend and established sexual harassment laws in the 1980's that brought the courtroom into the workplace. While ease of access to the courtroom is a major advantage in America, this ongoing trend has provoked too much interest in swindling money out of the judicial system. This rise in greed has replaced fairness and community values. In Thomas F. Burke's book, Lawyers, Lawsuits and Legal Rights, he proposes that we "blame the founding fathers for their deep mistrust of centralized authority and their glorified view of self-reliance" (Burke 12). His argument, which focuses on the separation of powers in the American government, explains why Americans rush to the courtrooms unlike other democratic countries. The concept of "checks and balances," America's system of separated powers, limited national control over state and local police forces and independent judiciary, was intended to protect American citizens from tyranny (Burke 24). However, it has also made it harder for elected leaders to get things done. Take Britain, Germany, or France, for instance, all of which have centralized governments that provide them with safeguards and social welfare benefits. Instead of national healthcare that is practiced throughout Europe, "Americans get proposals for a patients' bill of rights' that would allow the sick to sue their managed-care companies" (Burke 22). The problem has become so out of control in the United States, doctors in Florida, New Jersey, and West Virginia went on strike earlier this year. Delaying surgeries, in an effort to decrease annual insurance premiums of over $100,000, doctors asked Congress for reform on malpractice liability and lowered caps on "pain and suffering." Eduardo Esper, a cardiothoracic surgeon in Wheeling, West Virginia, was part of the walk out that occurred early in January of 2003. "We're not prepared, having spent all night with a patient, for that patient to come back and sue us. And the majority of the time those suits...
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