In an earlier entry, I called attention to “yet another example” of an American legal system run absurdly amuck. In this example, a lawyer had sent a cease and desist letter insisting that a journalist stop using his own name in his byline, due to theoretical confusion over the lawyer’s similarly named (famous) client.
Of course, it’s easy, perhaps too easy to poke fun of ridiculous lawyer-speak and lawsuits, and for much of this, we have only the lawyers (and their misguided / greedy clients) to blame.
Or is it really that simple? An article in the New York Times instead insists that lawsuits are a logical and not-all-that-improper response to a decentralized government.
People have used the tort system to rightfully take on major causes — product safety, womens’ rights, and so forth — that our American legislature was unable or unwilling to tackle.
As some of you may be aware, I’m a law school graduate myself, and yes, I’m admittedly torn about this. Just as the New York Times article highlights, our tort system is based upon adversarial relationships, which understandably is sometimes neither desireable, efficient, nor fair. But on the other hand, it is true that with our government in the pocket of Big Business, there aren’t many other existing means for the common guy to take on, say, General Motors.
All that said, however, I still strongly believe that our tort system is but a bandaid on the sores inflicted by a government which has thoroughly abdicated its proper role as a progressive and reliable watchdog… one with more bite than bark. Americans CAN (and sure, often do) sue large industrial companies for knowingly poisoning the populace, but it’d be so much better if our government actually did its job and protected our health and our environment without us having to fight tooth and nail for this ‘privilege.’