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Skyrocketing Insurance Costs

September 24, 1985

The doctrine about which you have written is known as "joint and several liability." You mention the doctrine by its correct name only once in the article, while the headline and remainder of the discussion focus on the misleading words, "Deep Pocket." "Deep Pocket" is the arousing term preferred by the proponents of the measure to disguise the real issues.

The doctrine of joint and several liability was developed at common law more than 100 years ago to ensure that victims injured by the negligence of others receive full compensation for their injuries. Although fault can be divided and proportioned among the negligent parties, the injury cannot. It remains indivisible. The victim is equally hurt by the 10% negligent person as by the 90% negligent person. Each negligent person caused the victim to suffer.

The proponents of abolishing joint and several liability argue that negligent parties should pay the victim only according to the percent they are at fault. The injustice is that no one can tell a paraplegic or someone who has lost his sight that being only 10% disabled or blind because some careless defendant was only 10% at fault for causing the accident. The victim is 100% paraplegic or 100% blind. The victim is entitled to be fully compensated for the entire injury caused by the negligence of others.

On another note, we think your proposition that the trial lawyers "who are among the top political campaign contributors in California" bought the defeat of this legislation is shortsighted. If you would compare the huge amounts of money that the insurance industry has contributed to repeal this and pass similar anti-victims rights legislation on both state and federal levels, the contributions of trial lawyers would seem paltry.

NED GOOD

KEVIN MEENAN

Pasadena

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