Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Legal tort-ure

Acton’s Jordan Ballor calls attention to this study by Steve Hayward’s colleagues at the Pacific Research Institute. I may have more to say, once I’ve chewed over the study, which estimates a "total annual accounting cost" of over $865 billion thanks to our system of torts. Lest you think that the authors believe that we should kill all trial lawyers, consider this from the executive summary:

Not all tort costs are “excessive” or “wasteful.” Some tort costs are necessary as part of a thriving
free-enterprise economy operating under the rule of law. To determine the percentage of U.S. tort costs that are excessive, we compared the percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) that is consumed by the tort system in the United States to the percentage of GDP consumed by tort
systems in other industrialized countries.

The United States spends 2.2 percent of GDP on direct tort costs. Other advanced countries spend an average of 0.9 percent of GDP on direct tort costs. The difference of 1.3 percentage points is the best estimate of the excessive costs of the U.S. tort system; it measures how much more expensive the U.S. tort system is relative to the tort systems in comparable countries. This comparative international
approach yields the result that 59 percent of U.S. direct tort costs are excessive (1.3 percent of the 2.2 percent is excessive).

If we apply this percentage to the appropriate tort costs and add the figures..., the results show that America wastes $589 billion each year from excessive tort litigation. This is roughly equivalent to losing the entire annual output of the state of Illinois.

So let’s kill only some of the lawyers.

Discussions - 1 Comment

The 2.2 - 0.9 = 1.3 calculation seems rather simplistic, to say the least. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of particular cases, people�s skepticism of tort cases usually subsides to a great extent.

To balance out the let�s-kill-most-lawyers rhetoric from the let-businesses-run-wild-and-free research institute, I highly recommend that all readers check out Public Citizen�s Congress Watch page on tort issues. They debunk a lot of myths (scroll down to read about the McDonald�s hot coffee case, for example), and make strong, fact-based arguments. See here:

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