Friday, August 6, 2010

"First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers"

Said to be from Wm. Shakespeare, in Henry VI.

I guess most of us have heard some of the stories of people who make a living suing stores and restaurants.  Kind of a traveling circuit, going from store to store, faking a fall and starting a lawsuit.  They are, of course, supported by a cottage industry of lawyers who take these suits.

The business plan has expanded to suing over the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.  From Walter Olson at the Cato Institute: 
It’s an open scandal, especially in states like California that offer enhanced penalties or liberal procedural rules, that serial complainants and their lawyers carve out profitable practices visiting dozens or hundreds of businesses and leveling ADA complaints that they then settle for cash.
Enter the case of one Mr. Antonineti vs. Chipotle in the 9th Circus, perhaps the most liberal court in the US.
...where a panel including Judge Reinhardt ruled that Chipotle's business model of allowing customers watch their burritos being made at 45-inch-high counters violated the ADA because the counters were too high for those in wheelchairs to watch. (Chipotle instead would take ingredients to a customer's table, and even let the wheelchair-bound taste them from serving cups.)
The 9th Circus overturned a lower-court ruling that tried to stop the business model of suing companies over imagined ADA offenses.  The district court had noted:
Antoninetti's "history as a plaintiff in accessibility litigation supports this Court's finding that his purported desire to return to the [r]estaurants is not sincere. Since immigrating to the United States in 1991, Plaintiff has sued over twenty business entities for alleged accessibility violations, and, in all (but one) of those cases, he never returned to the establishment he sued after settling the case and obtaining a cash payment."
I'm sure that people who read my writings realize this is not a "victimless crime", and no crime that goes after every business and insurance company is victimless.  We all pay for it, whether it's the ever-present warning label on everything, or the disappearance of products we grew up with?  Something I hear all the time is how much harder is to find land to hunt on, or rockhound on, or set a telescope up on, or put a shooting range on...  Remote locations that people used to go to are shut down as the land owners react to the fear of lawsuit.

It's not just this sort of suit.  Since we have an overpopulation of lawyers, they are evolving new business plans centered on pretty much suing everyone about everything.  To quote the original (Cato) article again:
As a phenomenon, the ADA filing mill has much in common with other forms of baleful legal “entrepreneurship” such as patent trollery, mass “citizen suit” filings against small businesses and school districts over paperwork lapses, and — the most recent to emerge — copyright mills such as the recently formed RightHaven, which has begun to acquire the rights to old newspaper articles and then mass-file lawsuits demanding thousands of dollars from bloggers, mom and pop businesses, and others who’ve ill-advisedly reprinted the articles online without permission.
Gee - an overpopulation of lawyers.  And what do state game commissions do when there's an overpopulation of any other scavenger?  Pay bounties for carcasses?

I'm just sayin'....


  1. Let's make it a tad bit more interesting. Include politicians on that open season list. That would give us a better variety and a longer lasting chance at the bounty money.

    Only in America.


  2. Aren't most politicians degreed lawyers, anyway?

    Also, note the one thing that pretty much every conservative or libertarian would say they could support in "health care" legislation was reductions on lawsuits. Which never happened because the Stupid party is completely in the pockets of the Trial Lawyers.