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The attorneys who work for big businesses think the legal climate in Pennsylvania is not as beneficial to their employers as other states. Is this bad? Is it good? Each of you needs to make your own decision. For some balance to the pervasive "tort reform," message, consider the thoughts of Scott Cooper, one of the partners in our law firm, and also the president of Pennsylvania's trial lawyers association. He was quoted on yesterday:

"It's no shock that a trade organization that represents pharmaceutical companies, chemical makers and tobacco companies would come out against the ability of individuals to sue its members.

"But it should not be lost on anyone the Chamber is not calling for similar limits on businesses suing each other or their ability to sue individuals — only for individuals to sue them. Nor should it be lost that this newest push by the Chamber to strip away people's rights was announced just blocks away from where the right to a jury trial in civil cases was first enshrined into our Constitution as the 7th amendment.

"Because the new report expresses only opinion about the system, not facts, it isn't worth the paper on which it is printed. The Complex Litigation Center, which this report is centered on, has won rave reviews and national awards because it does exactly what the courts are supposed to do: protect the rights and safety of individuals against unsafe products and practices. If people don't like getting sued, they can make safer products, adopt improved safety measures, and stop gouging consumers."

As you decide for yourself what the Chamber of Commerce report means think about:

  • The Chamber is not a government entity; it is a private organization that gets its money from its members
  • The members who contribute to the Chamber are huge corporations who exist only to make profits
  • Corporations don't want to be sued by people when their products or conduct hurt others, that would reduce profits
  • One of the ways in which states were ranked was on the basis of unreasonableness of juries-does the Chamber believe the jury system is flawed?

We, as attorneys for Plaintiffs, work with people whose lives have been broken to some degree because of the unreasonable conduct of another person or a large corporation. Understand that the legal system is a balance; and balance would be lost if those who were injured went unrepresented. A corporation knows that if it goes in front of a jury, the amount of money it can spend will only get them so far, and the very reasonable people of Pennsylvania will decide a case on the facts of that particular case. Don't allow a report like this from the Chamber of Commerce, to overwhelm your own experience and your own sense of what is right and wrong. Read, learn, and make your own decision.

Joe Chapman

September 11, 2012

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