Gut Rumbles

April 09, 2008

Lawyers at work

Originally published May 19, 2003

Sue-happy attorneys do so much good in the world. They've managed to shut down a water park in my beloved state of Georgia, right before the summer heat wave, which lasts from June until October.

Families and kids who found summertime fun and enjoyment each year at the Krystal River Water Park in Evans will have to find somewhere else to cool off in the months ahead.

The park is closing up shop because its liability insurance costs jumped from $8,000 a month to a whopping $58,000 a month. Customers couldn't possibly afford to pay the higher admission price park owner Ken Edwards would have to charge to offset the 700-percent premium increase.

Why did the insurance company do that?

The answer is clear. The insurance company knows that if some idiot kid violates every safety rule posted in the park, does something incredibly stupid and breaks his fool neck, a sharp lawyer can find twelve dipwits with which to staff a jury to find the water-park liable for the dumbass's injuries and award several badzillion dollars in their verdict. It happens all the time.

I have served on juries where I heard people say, "Aw, c'mon. Give the poor client a break. It's not like it's YOUR money."

No, I don't have to write the check for your generosity right then and there, but I'll pay my portion of it later. Everybody will, eventually.

But what's happened with regard to the Evans water park, and many other such playground facilities, is that insurance rates are keyed to protect the business from rapacious lawyers.

Lawyers' lobbies will say not so - that "greedy" insurance firms raise their rates through the roof to recover losses they suffered during downturns in the economy and equity markets.

However, that explanation doesn't fly. Insurance companies, like any business, know they can't improve their bottom line by raising rates so high their clients can't afford to pay. Losing customers is no way to win back Wall Street losses.

Insurance companies raise their rates 700 percent when they know that's what they must charge to keep plaintiffs' wolves from their door - even if it forces some clients out of business.

I don't blame lawyers for that. I blame jurors. I blame idiots who enter the courtroom with that "Who Want To Be A Millionaire?" attitude, believing that they're handing out winning lottery tickets using somebody else's money. The dumbasses just don't get it.

It IS your money.

Lawyers are just taking advantage of an opportunity. A crooked used-car salesman will screw an idiot for $200. A lawyer will DAMN SURE screw society for a couple of million dollars. In both cases, they couldn't screw ANYBODY without the assistance of idiots.

Don't blame this summer's dried up water park in Evans on insurers. Blame it on our litigious society.

Many lawyers' idea of fun is to destroy everyone else's fun. And if you want to do something about it, push for tort reform in Congress now and next January in the General Assembly.

Tort reform in a Congress owned and operated by lawyers is about as likely as the second coming of Bejus. A lot of that evil tobacco money is at work stalling any kind of tort reform. Lawyers know a Golden Goose when they see one, and you don't kill that money-laying bastard.

And nothing will EVER change as long as jurors believe that they are playing with other people's money at some cosmic craps table in a lawsuit.

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