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Jon Lewis
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Our Tort System Ten Years from Now

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So, we have a big election coming up next week. Depending on your views of the economy and social issues, I presume you will select the candidate whom you believe will benefit your views. Isn't that sort of like predicting the future. In reality, you don't KNOW if Obama or Romney would be better, and regardless of who wins, you won't know how things would have turned out if the other candidate had won.

I thought it might be fun to try to look into the future of our tort system based upon which candidate won. Here's my idea of our tort system ten years from now starting with the election next week:

If Obama wins, I predict the economy will improve, and our country will continue to focus on individuals over corporations. Tort reform, from a federal level, will either maintain status quo or reverse itself a bit. An Obama administration will be more likely to focus on continuing to improve ObamaCare and the economy in general. I do not see an Obama Administration attempting to impose Federal Caps on damages in medical malpractice claims or any other type of tort claim.

In addition, should Obama win and the economy improve, I see another Democrat winning office in 2016. Who will that be? Maybe Hillary Clinton if she still desires the post. Joe Biden would be the logical successor as the current Vice President, but I don't see that happening. Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, has also been mentioned. I think Hillary would be the choice as our first woman President on the heals of our first African American President.

And, what will our Country look like at the end of one and half of her terms in office? We will be financially stable. Better respected internationally. And, we will have a more even playing field from a tort perspective. I would predict a loosening of the Federal Arbitration Act, or at least, exemptions from many consumer transactions which will allow for greater accountability on corporations and financial institutions.

As far as State tort claims, I continue to see juries swinging back from the far right to the middle. I think people are beginning to see the effect of insurance companies on claims and the failure of said companies to properly compensate their insureds or the individuals their insureds harm. This trend will continue as long as insurance companies continue to squeeze every dollar out of every claim.

If Romney wins, I predict the economy will improve, but corporations will be the central focus of the Administration, not individuals. I think the economy goes in cycles, and consequently, I believe the economy is going to improve regardless of who is in office. In fact, given that we will be out of two wars in the next two years, our economy will have to improve. Money will be either saved or spent elsewhere rather than going to Iraq and Afghanistan. But, I do think Romney will focus on overturning ObamaCare which will take his attention away from more pressing needs. He will also continue to back tort reform efforts such as Federal caps on medical malpractice claims. This is ironic because Republicans are always talking about States' Rights, and yet, they want to impose Federal Caps on State Damages.

Obviously, the difference in Romney winning over Obama is that he will have a potential for 8 years in office. I think he will win a second term because the economy will improve, and he will claim responsibility for turning the economy around. This will allow his Administration to continue tort reform efforts in his second term, and by efforts, I also mean the lack of initiative to remove draconian tort reform measures such as arbitration in consumer claims. Consequently, Federal arbitration will continue in force, another Federal limitation on States Rights. We will also see more preemption of federal laws on bringing State claims for environmental pollution and product liability laws. This is another protection for the corporations which sponsored Romney's election.

Even if Romney wins, I still see State claims continuing to receive more attention from jurors. In fact, with a Romney Administration, I could see verdicts increasing because people will be more aware of the corporate oppression on individuals. Corporations don't stand behind their products and slogans any longer. The customer is not always right anymore, and people are getting tired of it.

There you have it. Two different views ten years from now. Will it be one of more corporate windfalls or one of a continued return to individual/citizen rights and respectability?

1 Comment

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  1. Oly says:
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    I am full time per-law student at Kaplan University my question is,
    Politicians are always talking about tort reform. Do you feel that it needs to be reformed?
    will be waiting for a response.