The Truth About the State of Justice

Separating Fact vs. Fiction in the debate over Tort Reform

Fiction: Frivolous lawsuits are clogging our courts

Fact: In a review of 2006 Wisconsin Court Filings divorce (21,072), foreclosures of mortgages (16,489), money judgments (14,245) and paternity cases (13,865) were the leaders.  There were 4,560 filings related to personal injury in automobile cases, however, the majority of the cases involved legitimate claims of injury placed into suit because of an insurance carrier's refusal to offer a fair settlement prior to litigation.  There were only 13 medical malpractice trials.

Fiction: Medical malpractice lawsuits are making health care costs skyrocket

Fact: A 2006 Congressional Budget Office Paper found that malpractice costs amounted to less than 2 percent of overall health care spending. (Source: Congressional Budget Office Background Paper: Medical Malpractice Tort Limits and Health Care Spending, pg 19, April 2006)

A recent report from Harvard and Dartmouth economists found that "other factors (such as the underwriting cycle, competitiveness in insurance markets, or insurer losses on other investments) play a larger role in driving charges in premiums than malpractice payments." (Source: Baicker, Katherine and Chandra, Amitabh.  "Defensive Medicine and Disappearing Doctors?"  Regulation.  Vol. 28, No. 3. Fall 2005. p.28.)

In Florida, the Office of Insurance Regulation reported that the 15 largest medical malpractice insurers saw profits of $803 million in 2005. (Source: Oldmixon, Seth. The Great Medical Malpractice Hoax: NPDB Data Continue to Show Medical Liability System Produces Rational Outcomes. Public Citizen. January 2007. 1-21.)

"According to the Medical Liability Monitor survey…for the second year in a row, medical liability insurance rates are easing nationwide, with nearly 84% of company-reported rates holding steady or dipping in 2007."

Fiction: Trial attorneys are hurting Wisconsin's business climate

Fact: Only 1% of manufacturing CEOs listed lawsuit abuse as the top business concern facing their company, in a 2006 WMC survey, the smallest percentage of any option. (Source: Wisconsin Manufacturing Survey 2006)

In a U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2007 study Wisconsin was ranked 10th overall for state liability in 2006. (Source: Lawsuit Climate 2007: Rating the States, conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform by Harris Interactive Inc.)

Fiction: Activist judges are hurting Wisconsin's legal climate

Fact: In the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2007 State Liability Systems Rankings Study, Wisconsin was ranked 3rd best for judges' fairness, 7th best for judges' impartiality and 12th best for judges' competence. (Source: Lawsuit Climate 2007: Rating the States, conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform by Harris Interactive Inc.)

Fiction: Tort reform will reduce insurance rates

Fact: The tort law limits enacted since the liability insurance crisis of the mid-1980s have not lowered insurance rates in the ensuing years. States with little or no tort law restrictions have experienced the same level of insurance rates as those states that enacted severe restrictions on victims' rights. (Source: Premium Deceit: The Failure of "Tort Reform" to Cut Insurance Prices.  Center for Justice and Democracy.  J. Robert Hunter and Joanne Doroshow.)

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