ABC News correspondent John Stossel told a crowd of more than 800 people in Houston that lawsuit abuse drives up court and consumer costs while slowing down the pace of the nations legal system.
Stossel, the Emmy Award-winning host of the ABC-TV special The Trouble with Lawyers, was the guest speaker at an April, 1997 luncheon sponsored by Houston Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) and the Greater He
ights Area Chamber of Commerce.
ABC News correspondent John Stossel shares a letter he received from a Clearlake woman detailing the personal toll of excessive litigation.
I should like lawsuits. It is kind of a free market solution, Stossel told the crowd. Those of us who revere freedoms should be enthusiastic about lawyers and the rule of law . . . But something has gone wrong.
As an example of what has gone wrong, Stossel spoke of the legal system and its extravagant indifference to waste.
Every other business over the past 50 years has found ways to do things quicker except law. They do not have the incentive to do that, he said.
We have a (legal) compensation system; tort law, where the lawyers can proudly say I helped this victim. But what kind of system is it where 70 percent of the money goes to the process, the lawyers? The victim gets 30 percent and it takes 10 years . . .and the side effects; all the products we dont have, he said.
Stossel outlined a laundry list of ways that we all pay and we all lose because of lawsuit abuse and excessive litigation.
We used to have 20 companies making vaccines, now we have four. Is America safer with four companies making vaccines instead of 20? I dont think so, he said.
Fresno (California) stopped volunteers from cleaning streets because of fear of lawsuits. You dont have honest job references anymore. You cant have honest conversations in the workplace for fear of lawsuits, he said.
They (lawsuits) arent great things that solve problems, said Stossel. They are trashy, horrible, privacy-invading, money-eating mac
hines that we ought to minimize not maximize.
Former Houston CALA President Paul James (left) is shown chating with ABC News correspondent John Stossel.
Stossel pointed out the personal toll excessive litigation takes by reading a letter from a Clearlake woman.
In the past several months, we have learned how twisted the legal system has become, Stossel quoted from the letter. We have learned how anyone can sue anyone for anything, anytime and it is little concern to the lawyer or clients who might be at fault. It only matters who has the liability insurance. The saddest part is that our spirit has been so broken.
Stossel said the letter clearly demonstrates the problems with excessive litigation.
They can take all your time, all your money, anytime they want and break your spirit, he said.
But you... "Stossel said, applauding the work of CALA supporters, have fought back like no group I have seen anyplace.
You have really accomplished a lot, and you are educating people, he said. I hope you keep doing that because then we all will be richer and safer and more free.
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