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NEW BOOK EXPOSES TRUE STORY OF TORT REFORM’S PHONY INSURANCE CRISIS To the editor: Seth Stern’s After Hours book review “How the Plaintiffs Bar Lost the War” is sad but true. The plaintiffs bar has lost a lot of battles, if not the entire war — sort of like the United States in Iraq. The book under review, Stephanie Mencimer’s Blocking the Courthouse Door, has an apt subtitle: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue. Up until now, the tort “reformers” have been winning the public-relations battle by convincing the general public, as well as many lawyers and other professionals, that phony injury claimants and their corrupt lawyers have created an insurance “crisis” that is about to destroy America. The “reformers” — who are well funded by the Chamber of Commerce, the insurance industry, and big business in general — have been successful in convincing many state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to change tort law so as to curtail the bringing of claims and the size of claims. Investigative reporter Stephanie Mencimer clearly demonstrates with facts and figures how state supreme courts have been packed with big-business-friendly judges. Big business’s political contributions to elect these judges are mind-boggling. Having studied this situation for many years as part of my labor in the plaintiffs malpractice vineyard, I recognize Ms. Mencimer’s as the definitive book I should have written if I had the talent, ability, and discipline. While I could not write it, I have done the next best thing. I’ve bought 1,000 copies and distributed many of them at the recent Olender Foundation Awards. I will distribute the rest to people I think will benefit from this expos� of the phony insurance crisis. Blocking the Courthouse Door is an easy read despite the heavy subject matter. I recommend it to all plaintiffs lawyers for validation of our life’s work and to others interested in learning the facts. Jack H. Olender Jack H. Olender & Associates, P.C. Washington, D.C.
�EXPLODING’ PINTO: ONE MORE TALL TALE FROM PLAINTIFFS BAR To the editor: It is ironic that within paragraphs of Seth Stern’s complaint about a “policy debate ruled by anecdote” and a “media and public that don’t care much for the subtleties of civil litigation,” he mentions the so-called exploding Ford Pinto, a much more insidious urban legend promulgated by the plaintiffs bar and media than any reformer’s true story of meritless spilled-coffee lawsuits [" How the Plaintiffs Bar Lost the War."] As professor Gary Schwartz demonstrated in his 1991 Rutgers Law Review article, the Pinto was as safe as or safer than comparable subcompact cars. Indiana prosecutors acknowledged that the Pinto was no more likely to “explode” than the average car on the road in the mid-1970s: It comprised 1.9 percent of cars on the road and 1.9 percent of fatal accidents accompanied by fire. Plaintiffs lawyers have lost the public opinion war, but it is because their abuses have led them to lose the public policy debate on the merits — which is why the Association of Trial Lawyers of America is forced to resort to superficial name changes in its battle against liability reform. Overlawyered.com and PointOfLaw.com (two Web sites I write for) are able to document dozens of lawsuits and verdicts a month illustrating the need for continued civil justice reform without once resorting to the “tort-reform tall tales” to which Stern alludes. Theodore H. Frank Resident Fellow American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research Director, AEI Liability Project Washington, D.C.

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