Too Many Lawsuits???
We’ve all been told and heard that there are too many lawsuits in America. It is belief is held by many Americans. But, is this belief actually supported by facts? Or, is it a myth perpetuated by those who can afford to spread this message and ultimately benefit from the belief?
Let’s look at the facts.
First, consider that access to the civil justice system (the ability to bring a claim against another person or corporation for wrongful conduct and damages), and trial by jury, is a right of all Americans and guaranteed by the United States Constitution. The 7th Amendment to our Constitution states that:
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Thus, the right to a trial by jury in a civil dispute is a guaranteed right, similar to the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms.
Access to the civil justice system is an invaluable asset to Americans, in large part, because it provides a mechanism for the people to seek redress against powerful corporations. Most people could never achieve a level playing field in a fight with an insurance company or large corporation because they simply lack the resources that these powerful businesses have at their disposal. But, in the courthouse, each party to a dispute is on the same playing field and must abide by the same set of rules.
This short video gives some great examples of how our civil justice system promotes safety, responsibility, and accountability.
What about the number of lawsuits though? The fact is that the number of civil lawsuits across the nation have gone down, not up. In 1993, there were ten civil suits for every 1,000 cases. That number dropped to two for every 1,000 cases by 2015.
SO what about Minnesota? There must be more lawsuits in Minnesota, right? Incorrect. The facts show that the percentage of civil cases filed in Minnesota amounted to 11% of ALL court filings in 2016; down from 2011. But you don’t have to take my word for it; the Minnesota Judicial Branch publishes a report of this information every year, and it is available for all to read.
Do you remember the McDonald's coffee case? That surely was a frivolous lawsuit. Here’s the deal; you need to decide that for yourself, but I’d suggest you know all of the facts about it before you make your final decision. There is an excellent documentary that discusses this case and our civil justice system that you can watch for free. Give it a try and keep an open mind.