Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 26, 2005
LAW: Let The Torts Commence!

Blaming oil companies for hurricanes.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Law 2005 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (1)

Come on. That is not what that article is about. Total right wing mis-quoting, dumbing down and trivializing of an issue. The law suit is about how oil companies depleted marshlands which act as a natural barrier against the force of hurricanes. I have no idea what sort of evidence and information they have or what has gone on in terms of this but it is not what you are "reporting." This is the same tactic as when idiotic righties like Limbaugh and his ilk say that the left is blaming Bush for the hurricane in an effort to get radio listeners to think that the left believes that Bush causes hurricanes. (There is a internet rumor about the Japanese mafia creating it).

Why be so sensationalistic and wrong?

Posted by: jim at September 26, 2005 3:57 PM

It amounts to the same thing: essentially blaming the oil companies for the weather. I don't purport to be an expert on the science here, but if there's an argument for doing something about the wetlands in that circumstance, it's the government's responsibility, not mega-class action lawsuits blaming bad weather on oil companies.

Posted by: The Crank at September 26, 2005 4:11 PM

I have no idea what cause of action is asserted in this suit. But presumably if the complaint can't paint a colorable picture of causation, it'll be dismissed. What's the harm there? As someone who been on the P & the D side of big cases, I really believe the good ole Motion to Dismiss beats the hell out of some form of dubious Tort Reform Legislation.

I'm not saying the system's perfect and, of course, the companies'll incur fees defending these suits -- frivolous or not. But they can recover costs, if the suit is frivolous they can go for attorney's fees under some state law equivilant of Rule 11, but most importantly, take away the ability for people to seek redress in court and what incentive will exist for companies NOT to decimate wetlands? You're not serious about redress through the government are you? As if an amorphous band of citizens would be able to challenge 11 large oil companies in the Louisiana legislature or the US congress? C'mon.

Posted by: Mike at September 26, 2005 4:44 PM

1. There is harm in the filing of non-meritorious lawsuits - any idea how much money all those oil companies will have to spend just to get the case dismissed? And in the meantime, they have to report this massive contingent liability.

2. Tort reform can never entirely weed out baseless litigation, but that's no excuse to refrain from criticizing such litigation when it is filed.

3. By government action, I mean regulation (before the fact) of the wetlands. If there's a case to be made that the federal or state governments should have done more to regulate oil company activities, make that case. But don't sue the oil companies on the theory that they should have foreseen damage caused by a catastrophic hurricane.

Posted by: The Crank at September 26, 2005 5:32 PM

My point was not about the merits of this suit as I have zero information on the facts. My point is that your headline reads like Ann Coulter wrote it and it is not what the lawsuit is about and you know it. It is sensationalistic. Doubtless you have as much information as I do about the merits of this case but your headline reads as if you know that this is a case filed by loonies. You don't know that this is frivilous litigation you just presume it to be so and write something about it that it is not.

Posted by: jim at September 26, 2005 5:43 PM

I hear you on your point 2. Absolutely: I didn't mean to say that the plaintiff's bar shouldn't be smacked -- and hard -- when it wastes tax-payer time & money with nonsensical class action suits. That's what dismissals and sanctions are for. Not to mention self-regulation from within the Bar. "Tort Reform" just means let's help tortfeasors avoid paying to defend themselves.

Which leads to your point 1. Sorry, but that's just the cost of doing business. Big companies are quite happy to march an army of complaint-tossing lawyers into the nearest federal court when one of their cockeyed investments goes sour, hoping one of the securities law causes of action sticks. And that's their right. But sometimes they get sued. Life's tough. They can aggressively defend strike suits to send a message to the plaintiff's bar that they're not to be screwed with. The court system functions best when it's open to everyone.

As to point 3, I'd rather leave the door open for individuals and companies to fight their own fights, rather than encourage legislators to tax us to protect rights they think need protecting. And you know as well as I, they'll "choose" to protect the rights of whomever lobbies them hardest.

Posted by: Mike at September 26, 2005 8:52 PM
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