This week two respected bloggers filed similar stories about tort reformers who had filed their own personal injury claims. Mike Phelan covered the story of Judge Robert Bork’s personal injury suit following a slip-and-fall incident. Phelan points out that in his prime, the former nominee for the US Supreme Court was a staunch advocate of tort reform, but when he himself was injured, he turned to a personal injury suit.
Ron had an interesting opinion in his post: that we shouldn’t be so quick to label Judge Bork or the doctor as hypocrites because it is difficult for people to see the true need for the system until they themselves are hurt. Ron just hopes that they’ll change their stripes now that they have filed their own personal injury claims.
Ron makes a good point that we should be understanding in those situations. But there are other tort reform supporters that I think it is fair to label as hypocrites, and those are the supporters who continue to call for tort reform despite taking advantage of the legal systems themselves. And that is a long list. For example, President Bush, a strong supporter of tort reform, sued Enterprise Rent-A-Car in 1999 over a minor fender-bender when no one was hurt. Texans for Lawsuit Reform board members Leo Linbeck, Richard Trabulsi, and Richard Weekley were plaintiffs in over 60 lawsuits between them and their companies. Even 20/20 reporter John Stossel, who routinely disparages lawsuits and plaintiffs’ lawyers in his stories, speeches and writings, filed suit in the 1980s and reportedly accepted a $200,000.00 settlement after he was assaulted by a professional wrestler while doing an interview for a story.