Fighting Lawsuit Abuse and Exposing Frivolous Lawsuits
Issue 36 - December 19, 2003
In this Edition:
Legal Reform: Illegal Aliens Sue Employers for Offering Illegal Work
Tort Du Jour: An Insult to Donkeys Everywhere
Testimony: Americans Pay More for Lawsuits Than for Drugs
Illegal Aliens Sue Employers for Offering Illegal Work
It happened in the Clinton Administration in the late 1990s, midway through the high-tech boom that appeared to be forging a permanent prosperity. Some bright lights in the Justice Department's Anti-Trust Division decided that Microsoft was being anti-competitive by being, well, over-competitive. The resulting costly and time-consuming lawsuit arguably was the first pinprick to penetrate the high-tech bubble.
Now the Bush Administration's law enforcers seem to be repeating their predecessors' mistake. Federal immigration authorities recently swooped on 61 Wal-Mart stores to arrest 251 illegal immigrants working as night janitors for outside contractors hired by the retailing giant.
Wal-Mart stands accused of knowingly hiring subcontractors that used illegal workers to cut costs. It now also is being sued by nine employees of the subcontractors -- illegal aliens all -- for allegedly not following labor laws.
If some of Wal-Mart's subcontractors are guilty, and Wal-Mart genuinely knew and approved, one wonders why the company, which has over 1 million employees, didn't resort to this money-saving practice at all 2,864 of its U.S. stores. Slightly reduced pay for 251 employees at 61 stores would have been but a drop in the bucket for Wal-Mart.
One also wonders at the chutzpah of an illegal alien who can sue someone else for indirectly providing him with illegal employment he willingly took. If these illegals can sue Wal-Mart for hiring the firms that illegally hired them, should not Wal-Mart be able to sue them for taking the illegal work in the first place?
Wal-Mart, simply put, is a target because it is successful.
The company already is under fire by the United Commercial Food Workers union and its left-wing allies because Wal-Mart is opening super supermarkets around the country and Wal-Mart employees are rejecting unionization attempts by the UCFW.
So the union and its media allies are
charging Wal-Mart with anti-social activities from allegedly
selling goods produced in foreign sweatshops to driving unionized
competitors out of business by paying lower wages.
Wal-Mart has long been the bogeyman of the left because it is big and successful.
When Wal-Mart locates on the fringe area
of a small town, so the myth goes, its sucks the lifeblood from
all the local merchants on Main Street, but the Interstate Highway
System and ubiquitous parking meters, both put into place in
the 1950s, probably are far more responsible for Main Street's
Darwinian as it sounds, the capitalistic
system is not cruel -- just efficient. If your business happens
to get run over by a better idea, the best response is simply
to pick yourself up and find some way to profit from the change.
Or, better yet, develop an even better idea yourself.
The fact is that Sam Walton had a remarkably
better retailing idea five decades ago in Bentonville, Arkansas,
and that his successors have managed to refine and polish it
along the way.
Yet, Wal-Mart will only remain a success
as long as it provides a product that a majority of consumers
want. Eventually either it will adopt policies that betray its
current formula for success or someone else will come along with
an even better idea.
Bob Craft of Hot Springs, Montana, changed his name to Jack Ass as part of a strategy, he says, of raising awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
But when MTV created a TV show and movie called "Jackass," Craft concluded that MTV's creation caused "injury to a reputation I have built and defamation of character I have created," and sought $10 million in damages.
Question: If you name yourself "Jack Ass," what's left of your reputation to damage?
Testimony: Lawsuits Cost Americans More than Drugs
"An April 2002 study prepared by the White House Council of Economic Advisers determined that the U.S. has the most expensive tort system in the world, consuming 1.8% of GDP. At $636 per capita, it's more than twice the average percentage of other industrialized nations.
Put another way, the $179 billion the nation spent in 2000 on direct costs for insurance administration, attorneys, witnesses, and awards to victims under the American tort adjudication system equals 150% of the amount Americans spent on pharmaceuticals."
-Stuart J. Sweet, "Time to Leash the Lawyers," National Review Online, January 6, 2003
|Original articles in this edition of Legal Briefs may be reprinted provided source is credited.|