Shakespeare said it best. First, kill all the lawyers. Since we can't do that, the least we could do is keep the scumbag plaintiff pimps, also known as trial lawyers, in check. Trial lawyers are a powerful and deep-pocketed constituency of Democrats, who are more than happy to do their bidding in exchange for a nice chunk of change come election time.
Senate Bill 72 was a good example of this legislative payback. The bill would have expanded the ability for trial lawyers to sue for compensatory and punitive damages and attorney's fees over cases involving employment discrimination in small businesses. Employees of small businesses already have the ability to seek "back pay, front pay, interest on back pay, reinstatement or hiring, and other equitable relief." Sounds like Bangladeshi sweatshops, eh?
Former Senate Majority Leader Mark Hillman wrote an op-ed detailing the economic devastation this bill would cause, to the benefit of trial lawyers who take upwards of 40% of settlements and awards, and the clear case as to why this bill is in itself frivolous and unwarranted.
Lawsuits are expensive for businesses to defend, with costs exceeding $100,000 if the case goes to trial. That is not something that a small business can easily afford. In fact, it's enough to bankrupt a business whether the claim has any merit or not.
Not only are lawsuits expensive to defend, but the claims that have already been before the Colorado Civil Rights Division were found to be frivolous 92% of the time! Imagine if the incentives to sue were increased by offering a bigger pot of gold for successful litigants (and especially their lawyers). You could practically hear the trial lawyers chomping at the bit during the bill's hearing.
Hillman's well argued piece stirred the pot over in trial lawyer land, inviting a response from a VP of the Trial Lawyers Association, James Croshal. As the old saying goes: If the facts are your side, bang on the facts. If the law is on your side, bang on the law. If neither is on your side, bang on the table. And that is what Mr. Croshal did.
In his response, he urges Hillman to check his facts, yet magically forgets to produce any of his own, or even a reasoned refutation of the facts Hillman employed in his case. Instead he whines that big business can afford these lawsuits, while little ol' employees cannot, forgetting that the law was about small business, not big business:
It is not enough that [Hillman's] large corporate clients frequently have the money to try to bankrupt the consumer or the employee suing them. What they want is to take away these people's rights as Americans to seek any redress of their grievances against them.
Yes, those opposed to frivolous lawsuits capable of ending small family businesses must really hate the little guy.
If the current system, which disincentives frivolous cases by reducing the financial reward, is yielding cases without merit nine of out ten times, then clearly there is no vast section of society being fired by small businesses in illegal ways.
All the law would do is pad the pockets of trial lawyers, who in turn would give Democrats their cut at election time.
Thankfully the bill, like Croshal's unreasoned assault on Hillman, failed. The scumbag plaintiff pimps in the Colorado Trial Lawyer Association will scrounge their dollars wherever they can, law or facts be damned. They will just have to scrounge elsewhere while the majority of reason and common sense reigns in the Capitol.
Thank God for the GOP House Majority.