Just yesterday I told a 'lawyer' joke. Admittedly my opinion of lawyers probably mimics that of many. Yet, when appropriate situations occur most of us call the proverbial 'mouth piece'. Realistically, doctors may be assessed as greedy and unscrupulous as well. But, when was the last time you were earshot of a prejudicial doctor joke?
Lawyers will probably tell us they get a bad rap. John Edwards, during his campaign for president has been severely criticized for his landmark legal successes that brought him huge personal wealth. Others blame large legal awards as responsible for malpractice insurance rate escalations, car and health insurance increases, and retail price increases of just about all consumer goods. It is opinioned by many that courts and juries, emotionally moved, tend to award humongous monetary punishments against manufactures, hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and more for libelous actions whether purposeful, accidental, or neglectful. In any case, public perceptions are that awards because of their size and resulting news-worthiness cause inflation and do little more than make the lawyers wealthy. The insinuation is that lawyers are leaches of legal permissions and license. Yes it is true; I too up until this writing endeared that very same lawyer definition.
During the 2004 presidential election campaign many were critical of John Edward's legal conquests which left him a millionaire. Many pushed strongly for new laws that would cap legal awards hopefully derailing future criteria for escalation of premiums, consumer goods, and more. I never gave that initiative much of a chance because the preponderance of senators, congressman, and congresswomen are themselves lawyers. Who among them would go against their own? After all, they may once again be practicing law if and after their public service is over.
When I really put thought to this entire scenario, I must offer a positive side for not imposing caps on awards. Just for a moment consider that now and in the past industries while still vulnerable to these huge court or jury discretionary penalties and being unrestricted by caps still manage to attract law suits against due to the manufacture and/or importation of dangerous products, medicines, medical mistakes, and others. Using just a tad of common sense it is reasonable to conclude that capping awards will send a message that libelous actions, products, and services are now less of a potential financial liability. It is bad enough that companies like Mattel were neglectful of their products manufactured in China; imagine how much more neglectful they will become if caps were written into law. Capped awards shall definitely signal CEO's that profits outweigh the penalties of neglect, malpractice, etc. That is to conclude, it is economically prudent that corporations ignore inequities and pay the "capped" or what shall be considered "punitive" awards, many times as settlements avoiding the expense of jury trials.
For those naïve enough to believe that today's global corporations care about the well-being of consumers, patients, and clients I direct them to re-evaluate their facts. There is for corporate America only two goals, growth and profits. Who or what is damaged, trampled, or even dead as a result is simply for them a cost of doing business. As cold as that reads it is regretfully true. So true, their influence is directed at great cost towards the Cashocrats that make-up the senate and congress. These are the 'special interest groups' that John Edwards fought and Barack Obama seeks to eliminate or at least diminish of their influence on the hill.
Now, after delving more intently into this issue I think laws should be amended or written that would double and triple legal awards. Since these industries will not police their own, and since their track records for safe products, medical competence, and more is poor, to say the least, significantly raising penalties may cause them to "wake-up and smell the coffee." Since they give not a hoot about humanity, let's hit them where they'll feel it the most, in their 'growth' and 'profits'.
As for the attorneys, if we must cap something let it be passed that lawyers accept a decreasing percentage share as awards grow above predetermined monetary amounts: the higher the award the lesser the share percentage taken against the whole. However, let's do so in a manner that impairs not the attorney's incentive to push for the greatest monetary punishment possible.