Professor Laura Nader told me that she showed the movie HOT COFFEE to her classes... Who is tracking Americans' stigma against suing oppressors? Who might support a New Nader's Raiders?

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Dear Ralph,

I have to take issue with a few things Shanin Spector stated. I'll confine this comment to one: The advice that no lawyer can afford to take a $250,000 medical malpractice case and at least, implicitly, that elderly people are out of luck if they fall victim to medical malpractice (which is probably the largest demographic that are victims).

Lawyers, even well-seasoned ones with profitable practices, can and do take risky malpractice cases for elderly people for a variety of reasons-even in venues where the jurors are instinctively in favor of local doctors. See, E.g., Cooper v. Hanson, 2010 MT 113, 234 P.3d 59. In fact, most trial lawyers--even good ones-- don't have the luxury of Cherry Picking only multi-million dollar cases. We take risks, which is why we are allowed to charge contingency fees.

A medical malpractice case for an elderly person can be done profitably, although the lawyer is not going to get rich. Most jurisdictions have mechanisms to cut costs and streamline some of the proceedings, at least if you have a good judge. Depending on the facts, you could conduct the whole case for less than $100,000 in legal costs and at any rate, costs are the client's obligation if you win and should only be the lawyer's if he or she loses (Although some lawyers regrettably charge either way. Avoid them if that is what they do).

Moreover, a general statement about pain and suffering damage caps on elder cases needs to be qualified for a variety of reasons. Loss of earning capacity may not be the driving generator of damages. It might be the medical costs and rehabilitation costs, which could run into the millions and hence, would generate millions in damages. Moreover, the presence and amount of caps varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Washington, for instance, has no caps.

I will agree that risks have to be considered. One has to make a back of the envelope determination if the firm, given its financial status, can take the risk. An expensive, complicated case of questionable liability probably could not be considered. On the other hand, a relatively straightforward case with relatively clear liability could be.

A big factor is the seriousness the lawyer pays to his or her duty to perform pro bono work. You are supposed to take cases as part of your duty to the community. You don't always take cases--even risky cases-- to make the big bucks. At least, you should not.

There are benefits other than getting paid a lot. An ambitious young lawyer with a limited practice, but good skills, might jump at the opportunity to go to trial (Though sad to say, many who call themselves trial lawyers do everything they can to stay out of the scary courtroom, but there are some serious trial lawyers too.).

One thing, which was not touched upon, is that an elderly person who suffers the injuries of a medical mistake SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY ANYTHING FOR A CONSULTATION WITH A CONTINGENCY FEE LAWYER. THAT SERVICE IS FREE IN ALL CASES. As should be clear from the above, whether or not the lawyer can take the case depends on the facts and circumstances and there is no charge for telling the lawyer the facts.

I know Mr. Spector qualified his advice near the end of the podcase, but judging from some of the listeners' questions, they got the impression that if you are old and injured by medical malpractice, you were out of luck. I think that impression needs refinement.

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to present my little dissertation. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Spector, but I felt as if a more nuanced response would help your listeners.

Erik Thueson

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Ralph hit the nail on the head when he said that we need to say to the lawmakers you need our votes more than you need the corporations campaign cash.

It will do no good to communicate to the legislators about tort law or anything else you want them to do if they have already told you by taking the corporations campaign cash that they will not do it.

As Ralph said we need to make our votes contingent on the politicians not taking big money. We need to start in 2024 and we need to start organizing citizens now to inform the politicians how we will be voting in 2024.

As Ralph also said if we had better lawmakers over the decades we could have prevented even more injuries. Better lawmakers over the coming decades can only be achieved by starting with demanding that politicians (and elected judges) do not take big money and enforcing that demand with our votes.

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Oh, I see what you are driving at PowerCorrupts, you're wondering how I can be doing pro bono if I'm so hard to get ahold of. I'm semi-retired. I have one case left. When people call with questions, I do what I can pro bono. When I was practicing, a did a lot of pro bono. I think that if you check me out on the web, you can get a picture of my past practice. Thanks for the question.

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Good program. From the standpoint of practicality I'd like to see more indepth presentations on successful and unsuccessful lawsuits from truly aggrieved victims. Most of us have read or watched the Grisham books and films which do a civic duty in presenting clarity on how depraved corporations are and how vital it is for whistleblowers, journalists and lawyers to hold them accountable. Unfortunately journalism is not very profitable and the courageous ones of the past find fewer examples in the present.

I've tried to do my civic duty in holding thieves and irresponsible businesses accountable. I'm still pursuing a fraud from 2008 where I had to hire an attorney to get a judgment and have pursued the rip-off artist and finally got through to him and he said he wants to make restitution.

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