For hundreds of years civil lawsuits have been filed in an attempt to make individuals or a family whole again. These lawsuits are filed knowing that if one were to lose their claim then they would not have to pay lawyer fees. This allows people with little or no money to enter the civil arena and challenge the big corporations that have wronged them or their family. The reason that civil law is setup this way is because civil claims are not always black and white. Sometimes an individual might have a really good claim but the evidence of the other side's liability is lacking. In the end, the plaintiff walks away with the same financial burdens that had driven them to file a civil lawsuit and the big corporation walks away with a clean sheet and a small amount of lawyer fees.
Representative Ted Vogt from Tucson is looking to change this, and not for the better. Vogt hopes to alter Arizona's law this coming January in which the "loser" in civil lawsuits will pay the other side's legal fees. Vogt, who only recently graduated from the University of Arizona College of Law, says that he is attempting to force would-be plaintiffs to reconsider whether they really want to go forward with a lawsuit or not. Vogt is hoping that his law will prevent people from filing frivolous lawsuits against large corporations and individuals. However, Arizona Revised Statute 12341.01 (c) already accomplishes was Vogt hopes to do.
Vogt's proposed law goes above and beyond what the current law already states and in addition looks to help the rich and hurt the poor. For example, under Vogt's proposed law if a plaintiff were to file a medical malpractice suit against a doctor and that suit is dismissed or the doctor is not found liable then the plaintiff would have to pay for all of the legal fees incurred by the other side. The other side, more often than not, is the doctor's big insurance company paying the fees and not the doctor. This would mean that an individual earning $50,000 a year would be forced to pay $400 times how every many hours the lawyer worked on the case for.
Another example, personal injury and defective product, is presented by Janice Goldstein the executive director of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association. Goldstein states, "When someone who has been injured by a defective vehicle worries that he could be responsible for the carmaker's legal fees if he sues, that could have a chilling impact. And just because you lose a case doesn't necessarily mean it was a frivolous lawsuit."
This law favors the rich insurance companies, rich individuals, and other rich companies while shutting the door to a substantial portion of Arizona's population. Frankly, it is undemocratic and unconstitutional. It violates the basic purpose of civil law that was set back in the time of the Magna Carta in England. All in all, the people that would suffer are the mainstream Americans with meritorious claims who are wrongfully harmed or killed.
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