Exploding the myths about litigation.

AuthorBlumberg, Edward R.
PositionPresident's Page

Lawyers, tort litigation and over-utilization of the courts are the scapegoats of the 1990's. Too often I hear that we are the cause of society's ills. The back-up for this criticism is usually some anecdote or unusual story that is not verifiable. The truth can now be told, thanks to the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia, and other reliable organizations which have done the scientific statistical analysis. Here is what they found:

* Tort cases comprise less than two percent of all state court filings, including criminal, juvenile, other civil, and traffic matters nationwide. Dade County, which has more people in it than a number of states in the union, had a total of only 357 professional malpractice cases filed in the calendar year of 1996. This out of approximately 750,000 court filings in all matters for the same year.

* Any overload in the courts has been caused by a dramatic increase in criminal, domestic, and juvenile caseloads, which have increased in many locales by more than one-third over the last 10 years. Comparatively speaking, our judicial system is underfunded in these areas.

* Litigation does not put America at a competitive disadvantage internationally. The Congressional office of Technology concluded that the cost of capital and the quality of human resources, including education and training, are inhibiting factors, but not litigation. The International Institute for Management Development actually found that the United States leads the world in competitiveness.

* Americans are not overly litigious. The Rand Institute revealed in a study that most American's who are injured in accidents do not turn to the courts for compensation. Harvard University in its Medical Study Group found the same thing in regard to malpractice claims.

* As far as the make-up of jurors is concerned, the National Center for State Courts found they...

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