A National Television Advertising Campaign to Highlight the Costs of Frivolous Lawsuits on Our Healthcare System. What are frivolous lawsuits and outrageous jury awards? They do not exist. The only thing that can properly called outrageous would be the unfair and unfounded criticism of a jury verdict.
The press release from SickofLawsuits.org trumpets it is launching a National Television Advertising Campaign to Highlight the Costs of Frivolous Lawsuits on Our Healthcare System. This is said to be in conjuction with Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week. “Titled ‘The Game,’ the advertisement highlights the costs we all pay for meritless lawsuits and outrageous jury awards.”
Wow! I hardly know where to begin. Maybe the best place to start is the concept of “outrageous jury awards.” Juries are selected from the community to represent a cross-section of the citizens in determining the facts of a case. Occasionally, they will make a finding or award an amount that from afar may appear unreasonable. However, they were the ones we designated to do the job of judging the facts and took the time to receive and consider each and every fact submitted to them in the courtroom.
We have to accept the fact that different juries may come to different conclusions. However, no jury’s determination can ever really be labeled “outrageous” by another jury or by total outsiders who have not received and considered all of the the testimony and evidence in a particular trial. If, for some reason, a jury verdict can be said to “shock the judicial conscience” the Judge always has the power to set it aside. As a result, the only thing that can properly called “outrageous” would be the unfair and unfounded criticism of a jury verdict.
Next, let me take on the idea of “meritless lawsuits” in medical malpractice matters. The Courts and the Legislatures of all states have established so many requirements (I would even say, hurdles) for the prosecution of any claim against a health care provider that it would be virtually impossible for a “meritless” claim to survive its filing. Therefore, no lawyer is so foolish that he would invest his time and resources in trying to launch what would be a sinking ship. He certainly would have plenty of meritorious malpractice claims to file if recent studies of the number of malpractice incidents that never even see the courthouse are correct.
My experience, which is very common, is that many perfectly valid claims are not filed because the injury did not result in death or a truly significant permanent problem for the patient. Those that are filed have been carefully vetted by qualified experts within various medical fields.
So, what does “frivoless lawsuits” mean? It actually means a lawsuit that has been filed by an attorney after a careful evaluation of its merits with the assistance of competent experts, that passed the scrutiny of the judge who likely ruled against defense motions attacking its merits, that was tried before a jury of ordinary citizens who received only the testimony and evidence permitted by the judge and that ended with a verdict in favor of the injured patient or his family in an amount which did not “shock the judicial conscience.” That is the profile of the “frivoless lawsuits” that are supposedly creating a problem in our society.
More from the Press Release: “Some personal injury lawyers, who file frivolous lawsuits in hopes of striking it rich, are bankrupting our healthcare system, and we are all paying the price,” said Sick of Lawsuits Spokesperson Dr. Evelyn Tobias-Merrill. “We launched this national advertising campaign to call attention to the abuses of our legal system at the hands of certain greedy personal injury lawyers.”
“The Game” depicts a personal injury lawyer as a game show contestant spinning a prize wheel on which all potential outcomes are undesirable or harm healthcare consumers. Prize options include: “File Junk Lawsuits,” “Run Ads that Scare Patients,” “Make Costs Go Up,” “Rake in Millions,” and “Force Medicines off the Market.”
Could the true purpose of the ad campaign be the poisoning of the minds of potential juries against those who pursue medical malpractice claims in our court system? Is this an example of Advertising Abuse?