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Sunday, October 09, 2005

NYT Has No Answer Why

The Sunday NYT provided us two instances of its bias that allowed it to miss key explanations of developments in big issues. One article assessed Mike Bloomberg’s claim that his administration’s exceptional stewardship of the NYC economy has led to its healthy position. Another article discussed the remarkably improved legal position of defendants in silicosis lawsuits. In both articles, reporters could not explain the cause of these marked changes. I have the answer to both. The answers are obvious but are missed by the writers either intentionally or unintentionally.

In “Taking Credit for Rebound That Remade City Economy” by JENNIFER STEINHAUER, we learn about NYC’s rebounding economy since 9-11. Employment is up, businesses have actually moved into NYC, real estate development is booming and tourism is increased. Naturally, “Mayor Mike” an ultra-wealthy businessman is credited for applying his acumen to the City’s needs that included using business contacts to analyze issues and lobby their contacts for NYC growth opportunities.,

Steinhauer explains how critics argue that Bloomberg should not have raised taxes as he did, but rather should have cut discretionary budget items. Steinhauer never explains higher local taxes could have improved the City’s fiscal position without any reduction in growth as would be predicted by supply-side economists.

The answer is that the tax cuts by the federal government placed so much more money into the capital markets and high earner NYC dwellers that relatively moderate local tax increases did not hurt the economy. Remove George Bush's federal tax cuts on personal income, capital gains and dividends and the financial markets would still be in a slump, the national economy would be stagnant and unemployment would be like Germany. And Mike Bloomberg would not be running for reelection now.

Then, in the Business section, Jonathan D. Glater analyzed the changing tide in silicosis tort litigation that has made plaintiff’s actually have to prove they have the disease before recovering a settlement.

In “The Tort Wars, at a Turning Point”, Glater reviews the new strategy employed by defendants in these mass tort claims. Historically, defense attorneys, as instructed often by their insurance company clients, have chosen to pay off the claims in order to avoid giant verdicts. In addition, as was discussed in this blog a few months ago, Judge Janis Jack, a former nurse, smelled the fraudulent activities of lawyers colluding with dishonest doctors in framing these claims.

Glater asks why were defense lawyers “not more successful in challenging the validity of claims in the past. While lawyers point to the cost of investigating and challenging claims, it is also true that defense and bankruptcy lawyers have earned a lot of money handling claims the way they have been handled, paying off plaintiffs through years of Chapter 11 proceedings.”

While there is always the incentive for the defense bar to allow matters to move slowly towards settlement to exact the most billable hours as possible (and still avoid facing a jury), the truth is the desire not to fight back on these cases is created by the overwhelming slant of the courts in favor of plaintiffs. And more than courts favoring plaintiffs, they favor plaintiff attorneys.

Judges are often former plaintiff attorneys themselves. In many states, judges run for elections. Per public information as compiled by opensecrets.org, attorneys in 2004 contributed $181 million to political candidates. Of that, $135 million went to Democratic candidates. In 2002 of the $95 million on attorney contributions, $70 million went to Democratic candidates. This trend has been consistent since 1992 with larger contributions given each election.

Someone is getting something for their money. The plaintiff’s bar makes major contributions to lawmakers and the judiciary. Thus, while juries grant the awards, the judges pave the way procedurally throughout pre-trial litigation decisions and then shape the trial at the end. Settling cases becomes the more prudent option for the defendants and their insurers.

We see the NYT writers grappling with the why’s of their essays. They never scratched below the surface for their answers. We all know the reason why.


At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And on a lighter note than pure documentation fantic trial , check out the funniest trial transcript ever! If it's not serious enough of a topic, well, just pretend it's the Brit's version of documentation fantic trial !

At 3:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »


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