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What to think about the Corporation sponsored report on Pennsylvania’s legal climate?

Posted D. Joseph Chapman on Sep 11, 2012 in Medical Malpractice

Yesterday, the Chamber of Commerce issued a report which ranked Pennsylvania's lawsuit climate as 40th in the country.  What does 40th mean?  You tell me.  The report surveyed in-house lawyers from companies who gross over $100 million a year.  So that means that lawyers who represent specific businesses put Pennsylvania in the top 10 places for unfair and unreasonable treatment of business interests.  Scott Cooper, one of the partners in our firm, and also the President of the Pennsylvania's trial lawyers' association (Pa. Justice) was interviewed for an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The article said, 

Scott Cooper, president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, which represents the state's trial lawyers, sharply criticized the study, saying it offered a biased view of the state's civil justice system. He said that while business critics often point to excessive jury awards in Pennsylvania, the average is boosted by companies suing one another, not by individuals suing companies.

"Garbage in, garbage out," Cooper said of the study. "There are more lawsuit costs from businesses suing businesses than from individuals suing businesses."

If you really want to know where this report comes from, go to the next to the last page of the report which tells you that you can get the full report at a website called, www.InstituteForLegalReform.com.  The report is funded by corporations who want to limit the right of people who have been injured from having their day in court.  There is evidence of this in the report when it ranks states based in part by the incompetence of juries.  That is basically saying that the legal system we have relied on for more than two hundred years is out of whack.

Think twice before jumping on the tort reform band wagon.  Think twice before deciding Pennsylvania is an increasingly litigious state.  Think twice before you buy the idea that doctors are leaving Pennsylvania because of the legal climate.  What do you think about the report from the Chamber of Commerce, and where does the money come from which funds the organization and its studies?

For just a taste of what the reality is, versus the trumpeted demise of a fair legal system, you might want to read about how the number of medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania has fallen over the last decade.  Further, you might want to get your hands on a movie called "Hot Coffee," and learn a little bit more about how the Chamber of Commerce functions.  In any case, you should read, learn, and think for yourself before assuming that a report like this one means anything.


Joe Chapman

September 11, 2012