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'Liability Suits--the Money Tree'

December 07, 1985

Conine's article accurately warns us of the danger posed by the triumvirate of lawyers, judges/juries and insurance companies. As we conclude from this article, capricious law suits, which combine the predatory appetite of lawyers with juries and judges to whom fiscal responsibility is merely an unconfirmed rumor, are generating money judgments fully compatible with the participants' distorted state of grace in the law.

As one would predict, this does not inspire confidence in the board rooms of insurance companies. The result is a volcanic eruption of ever-increasing insurance rates, which sooner or later will precipitate a suffocating economic mud slide.

To many of us in the industrial community, or in the medical or even legal professions, to "shop" for product liability or malpractice coverage is like getting your ears pierced in an archery tournament.

Just two months ago I presented a check to my insurance agent for my company's general and product liability insurance. After examining the check he looked at me as if I had just mushed in from the Yukon.

As Winston Churchill would have sympathized with me, I was the victim of these little dots, i.e., I had misplaced the decimal point, apparently being unaware of the 900% rate increase. How I am going to translate this into the pricing of our machinery, I don't know. I do, however, already hear rejoicing among the most enthusiastic practitioners of parsimony, my foreign competitors, the Germans, Swiss and Japanese.

Perhaps the nonchalant troika I mentioned above, after it feels the heat from the indignant business and professional community, will see the light, and realize the difference between "creative" destruction and constructive tort.



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