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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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Worried About Frivolous Lawsuits?

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Source: Real Time with Bill Maher

You may have heard about Donald Trump's lawsuit – or threatened lawsuit – against Bill Maher over a joke about The Donald's parentage. There's been lots of discussion on the topic, including here at The Legal Examiner.

Lawsuits like this often give rise to the topic of frivolous litigation and the uneasy line between protecting the fundamental right to trial under the 7th Amendment versus the abusive and frivolous use of such rights. Big business – through organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Tort Reform Association, and Institute for Legal Reform – use examples of such litigation as a sword to chop away at fundamental liberties in order to secure protection against liability for harmful conduct.

But if you are concerned about frivolous litigation, don't look to injury cases. Look to contract and other business lawsuit like the one threatened by Donald Trump.

You see, Trump's threatened lawsuit would not be impeded in any way by most tort reform proposals. You see, Trump's cause of action is not a tort. It is not a personal injury. Trump did not threaten to sue for defamation of character or other personal injury. Trump sued in contract.

"The legal system in this country is not a joke. It's not a toy for rich idiots to play with."

– Bill Maher, Real Time

While big business likes to talk about a litigation explosion, the fact is that tort filings – lawsuits involving injury or death – have actually declined substantially. However, in the decade from 1999 to 2008, business litigation – including contract claims like Trump's – increased by 63%.

You can watch Bill Maher's response to Trump's lawsuit here. Warning: The commentary contains adult language and is likely not safe for work. (H/T Staci Zaretsky at Above the Law)

[More on your 7th Amendment Rights]

© Copyright 2012 Brett A. Emison

Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.

1 Comment

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  1. Mark Bello says:
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    Brett: Thank you for this fine post. As indicated in my post (linked to your excellent piece), this lawsuit is a smarmy example of U.S. Chamber and big business hypocrisy. Where is the Chamber’s “lawsuit abuse” outrage on this one? The Maher quote is right on. “The legal system…is not a joke. Its not a toy for rich idiots to play with”. For a filing fee, any “rich idiot” can file a lawsuit and clog our civil dockets.

    I am more concerned with the joke being played on the American people by the health care and insurance industry and by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They are engaged in a sinister effort to convince the public that “tort reform” is necessary and good for the country. It is only the wrongdoers who benefit from tort reform and it the victims and the taxpayers who pay for it. Does anyone really believe that this is “funny”? If so, the joke is on you. Regards, Mark