Monday, March 03, 2003

Legal Feeding Frenzy

This Sacramento Bee article reports that the California Attorney General is suing a Beverly Hills law firm for filing thousands of frivolous lawsuits in order to extort money from auto repair shops, restaurants, and other small businesses. Yes, you can go back and read that sentence again. I’ll put it differently: A lawyer is suing a law firm for filing too many bogus lawsuits.

Part of me rejoices, as so many lawsuits are indeed frivolous, yet their frivolity doesn’t save the victims from having to pay through the nose. As the article points out, many small business owners agree to out-of-court settlements just to avoid the costly legal meat grinder. But I also have to wonder: are lawsuits the solution to the lawsuit problem? Or shouldn’t we instead be scrutinizing the overbroad laws and legal doctrines that allow these lawsuits to be halfway viable in the first place?

In any case, I wonder if the California Attorney General will next turn his sights on the nuisance lawsuits lodged by numerous city and country governments (including Los Angeles and San Francisco, among many others) against gun manufacturers, under the dubious legal theory that gun makers are responsible for the voluntary acts of gun-using criminals. After all, the anti-gun orchestrators of the lawsuits have admitted that they hope to bury the gun manufacturers under a legal burden too large to bear *even if they win*. I’m no lawyer, but that sounds a lot like extortion to me.

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