Monday, December 18, 2017

In New York, Lawyers Rule

Is it just another tax? Or is it just the price of living in the Big Apple? One might note that it is a singularly regressive tax, just what a city that has enormous wealth disparity doesn't need.

What is it? It’s the cost of civil lawsuits, brought against the city and against businesses. Those of us who live in the city pay it. It adds a cost, like a tax, to everything you buy in the city, from cheeseburgers to condos. It even increases taxes.

It's a pass-along economy. When your physician pays exorbitant malpractice insurance premiums he simply raises his fee to you. When the drugstore pays high liability premiums it passes the cost along to you... in the price of toothpaste.

The New York Post editorializes:

Wonder why New York pays through the nose for everything from health care to construction projects to auto insurance — and taxes? A new report from the Empire Center has a one-word answer: lawsuits.

State laws here “encourage a proliferation of civil suits,” notes the report’s authors, lawyers Cary Silverman and Mark Behrens. They peg statewide liability costs at $20 billion a year, or more than $2,700 per household.

That gets passed on to the public in the form of higher taxes and prices, especially for health care and insurance; fewer buildings, bridges, schools and other projects; and less government service.

Pro-lawsuit statutes also cost the state business and jobs. This year’s US Chamber of Commerce “legal climate” survey ranks New York 29th nationally — and sinking: In just the past five years, the rank plunged 11 places; it’s now at its lowest in the survey’s 15-year history.

After noting that construction companies must pay liability insurance rates that are three to six times higher than those in other states, the Post continues:

  • New York also “encourages” lawyers to target defendants with the most money, even if they’re the “least to blame.”
  • In slip-and-fall cases, property owners must “prove a negative” — that they had “no notice of hazardous conditions” before an accident.
  • The state has no cap on non-economic and punitive-damage awards.
  • Its no-fault auto-insurance system fuels fraud and drives up rates.
  • It lacks “reasonable limits” on medical-malpractice awards.
  • Its asbestos-litigation court favors plaintiffs, attracting cases from all over the country. (Credit for that largely goes to Assembly ex-Speaker Shelly Silver and his “of counsel” job at Weitz & Luxenberg, a firm specializing in, yep, asbestos cases.)

Call it what it is: a tax on all business. A tax that everyone pays. Lawyers like to call it the rule of law. It looks more like the rule of lawyers, a city whose business life is being sucked dry by a parasitic class that pretends to be defending everyone equally but that is making it increasingly difficult to do business in the city.


Sam L. said...

And yet, some people like to live there. Hmmmmmmmmm. Takes all kinds. All kinds get taken.

Jack Fisher said...

as soon as I see "reasonable limits" on general and/or punitive damages I know this was written by a defense attorney shill I mean hack I mean whore. "reasonable" according to whom?

this is how the game is played. let's assume, I know this is a huge stretch for some, that a person has a legitimate case against an institutional defendant, say, a hospital. Punitive damages, if appropriate, are intended to deter future bad conduct. "reasonable limits" is defense code for monetizing the cost of bad behavior, hopefully at a limit where the entity doesn't have to undertake the true costs of preventing misconduct. such PD awards are a predictable and acceptable cost of doing business even if the misconduct is undeterred and repeated.

an average citizen facing a institutional defendant, whether governmental or private entity, faces huge roadblocks. litigation is expensive, and almost no citizen can afford to front the costs of discovery, expert testimony or trial costs. most attorneys can't, either, and the few who can are risking a big investment and are rightfully expecting large returns IF successful because if they're not, then the client is not going to pay anything and that is a 100% risk they take.

if anyone thinks an institution, whether private or public, is going to reform itself without the threat of a financial whip in the form of general damages and punitive damage exposure, that person should be watching cat videos 24/7 instead of participating in public debate.

trigger warning said...

World's most reliable joke:

Trial lawyers painting themselves as crusading reformers and defenders of the "little guy" against rich, nefarious oppressors - as predictable and repetitious as the sunrise, yet it stll draws a chuckle no matter how many times or how often it's repeated.

Jack Fisher said...

tigger, I get that you're against consumers and always in support of business interests as a reflective instinct based on a lack of real world experience in how life works, but don't you think it's naive, even for you, to believe that there's never a disconnection at times between profit motive and public interest?

I bet you loved your family's Chevrolet Corvair.

I notice you have no facts to dispute my economic analysis of how lawsuits works. Better look for better joke material.


trigger warning said...

"economic analysis"??

You one funny guy, Jack.

From the manual for my chainsaw:
"Contact with rotating chain blade can cause serious injuries."

Thank heaven we have trial lawyers stimulating greedy coompanies to print such informative warnings!

Jack Fisher said...

tigger, ask your psychiatrist to explain the concept of "splitting" to you.