Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
While the very notion of a lawsuit could send a majority of the general population into a panic, law school professor Carl Bogus argues that litigation is nothing to be feared. “The idea that lawsuits are good for America is not a minority view among scholars, but more so to the general population,” said Bogus, who teaches at Roger Williams University School of Law. “The conventional wisdom is that lawsuits are a plague.” He has put his views to paper and recently released a book titled, “Why Lawsuits Are Good for America: Disciplined Democracy, Big Business and the Common Law.” The book advances the idea that the common law system is a necessary system of regulation. Government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, are the primary mechanism for regulating business and products. Bogus, a professor of torts, products liability, evidence and administrative law, was “irked by the deliberate campaign of misinterpretation perpetrated by the industry and political values,” and over a three-year time period researched high-profile lawsuits to prove the value they have on the American public and business. To prove his point, Bogus refers to cases in his book that are held up as examples of a legal system out of control, but carefully demonstrates that the lawsuit can do more good for the general public and business franchising, despite the costly and sometimes embarrassing accusations that emerge in a courtroom. Take the famous McDonald’s hot coffee case. Bogus’s book recounts the tale of the 79-year-old woman who suffered third-degree burns to her legs, thighs and groin area and spent eight days in the hospital with skin grafts before suing McDonald’s and receiving a $2.9 million judgment. Bogus reveals that prior to the filing of this lawsuit, McDonald’s received more than 700 complaints from people who had been burned by the fast food chain’s coffee. In addition, he points out other facts pertinent to the case, including that the temperature of the dispensed coffee was higher than 180 degrees — more than 40 degrees hotter than the coffee made at home in a regular coffee pot. “This case became a symbol of a crazy system,” said Bogus. “The woman’s claim was seeking compensation between the severity of the burns she would have received from 140-degree coffee and the ones she did receive from 190-degree coffee. When this case hit the headlines, other fast food chains, such as Wendy’s, realized they were serving coffee and hot chocolate at the same temperature and temporarily removed the items from their menu to avoid problems.” GOOD OUT OF BAD Bogus researched the after-effects of this case in his book, asking fast food restaurants what temperature they originally served their coffee and at what temperature they are currently serving it. Although none of the restaurants would respond, his research assistant went out with a thermometer to check the coffee and hot chocolate at four different fast food restaurants to find that none of them were dispensing hot liquids at more than 157 degrees — proof to Bogus of why the McDonald’s lawsuit was good for America. While it may seem daunting to claim to the general public that lawsuits, often menacing to business and citizenry, can benefit the American public, Bogus says the facts were on his side. “The principal myth is that the legal system is a mad-hatter world populated with wacky judges, fluff-headed jurors and avaricious lawyers and that system produces bizarre results,” explains Bogus. “I set out to expose and demolish the conventional wisdom and misrepresentation of the legal system.” And one of those misinterpretations is that lawsuits are out of control and anyone can sue anybody for anything. According to Bogus, the idea that America is litigation-crazy is completely false. “In fact, anyone can sue anybody for anything — that’s the kind of legal system we have,” acknowledged Bogus. “We do not have a system where a citizen needs a government bureaucracy to file a lawsuit. The issue isn’t whether anyone can sue for anything — the issue is how intelligent you are about the lawsuit.” Bogus notes that truly frivolous lawsuits — those not presented with adequate evidence to support the claim in court — are normally thrown out at the beginning stages of the process. THE EARLY YEARS At Syracuse University School of Law, Bogus was the editor of the Law Review before graduating in 1973 and moving to Philadelphia where he eventually became partner of the law firm Mesirov Gelman Jaffe and Moore, practicing commercial litigation. After 18 years of practicing law and dedicating his time to teaching at Rutgers University in Camden, N.J., Bogus went to teach at Roger Williams University in 1996. In addition to the books, the classes and the lecturers, Bogus devotes his time as a member of the Board of Visitors of the law school at Syracuse, and recently received a letter acknowledging his accomplishments as one of the youngest people ever elected a life member of the board. Bogus is a strong believer in individual rights and fairness and supports the notion of the Second Amendment. “I believe the Second Amendment only grants the right to bear arms to people within the government organized militia — today it is the National Guard. It does not grant the individual right,” he said. He also holds steadfast to the notion that the legal system will provide a beneficial outcome for the general public of America. “A person’s part in the process of the jury is a very structured form of participation in the law and a very important part of American democracy — but it is a very disciplined democracy,” he said. “As antique as it is, I believe the common law is more vital and more important than ever.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.