A few weeks ago a 13-year-old in New Jersey was sued after he overthrew a baseball and accidentally hit a spectator while warming up in the bullpen for a Little League game.
Seeking more than $150,000 in damages to cover medical costs and an undefined amount for “pain and suffering,” the plaintiff alleges the kid’s errant throw was intentional and reckless. Apparently, there’s no such thing as an accident without a lawsuit anymore—the idea of a “jackpot justice” is just too alluring for some, even if it means forcing a 13-year-old to hire a defense attorney.
This incident is just the kind of example that fuels the public perception that America’s legal system has gone awry. Is it any wonder then that a new nationwide poll found the vast majority of voters are concerned about the impact of rampant litigation on U.S. jobs and the economy?
According to the survey, a strong majority of voters–89 percent–believe lawsuit abuse a “problem.” This view is shared across the political spectrum, with 94 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents and 86 percent of Democrats all in agreement.
Additional findings include:
- 78 percent of registered voters polled say the “nation suffers from too many lawsuits.”
- 88 percent want safeguards put in place to protect small businesses from frivolous lawsuits that could put them out of business.
- 72 percent agree that our liability lawsuit system negatively impacts the country’s “ability to compete in the world as it raises the cost of doing business and limits investment in jobs here.”
Interestingly, the survey also found most voters- 73 percent- are more likely to vote for candidates for public office who support reforms to reduce the excessive litigation that currently plagues our system.
So what should we make of this? In the context of the upcoming political elections, it means candidates at the state and national level must start working to make legal reform a top priority. It is clear that lawsuit reform is not a partisan issue—it is a jobs issue—and candidates on both sides of the aisle need to start paying attention.
Whether it’s large companies, like McDonalds facing outlandish claims over hot coffee, or small businesses owners like Louisiana’s own Mike Carter whose livelihood is threatened everyday by meritless lawsuits, or the 13-year-old baseball player in New Jersey, it is clear our system is broken and in desperate need of a fix.