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.
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.