Every tort claim involves a victim, a real human who has suffered a loss. Sometimes that fact gets lost in the discussions of the “civil justice system” or the need for “tort reform.” I meet every day with ordinary folks who have experienced extraordinary injury and grief at the hands of a wrongdoer. They ask for compensation knowing that, at best, it will never make them whole or return them to good health. I wish I could permit the tort reformers to sit next to me in these meetings. Realizing the human tragedy caused by misconduct, conduct below the standards that we expect in our society, is the focus of a recent article posted on Legal Underground by Evan Schaeffer.
HUMANIZING TORTS: A DISCUSSION ON TORTSPROF BLOG . . . Torts professor Bill Childs has a series of posts on his weblog TortsProf Blog about “humanizing torts”–
If you’re interested in the discussion about humanizing torts, you can participate at TortsProf Blog. The discussion has touched on tort reform, too, which seems logical enough: if you humanize torts, the debate about tort reform can take on a new meaning. Consider it from the point of view of a tort reformer: if you’re trying to sell a program of curtailing individual rights for the good of corporations, it’s much easier to do if you can “de-humanize” the individual. You can do it in a number of ways: you can deride the individual by claiming he or she doesn’t care about “personal responsibility”; you can mock the individual by claiming he or she is only interested in “jackpot justice”; you can draw attention away from the individual by focusing on the motives of his or her “greedy lawyer,” and so on. Unless you de-humanize the victims, tort reform is a much harder sell.