How Long Does The RIAA Get To Abuse The Legal System?

from the keep-on-suing dept

The RIAA has dropped its file-sharing suit against an Oklahoma mother who had no connection to any such activities, beyond paying an ISP bill. Good news -- sort of. The case was dropped after the woman filed a claim to have it dismissed, then faced with the prospect their case would be thrown out, the RIAA asked -- and was allowed -- to withdraw it on their own instead. This is basically the same scenario as that of a Michigan woman who the group sued because her kids were alleged to be file-sharing, though in this most recent case, the RIAA will have to pay the defandant's legal bills. Several questions are raised here, but first and foremost is why does the RIAA simply get to drop these lawsuits with little or no repercussions when it becomes clear they're bogus? Again and again, the RIAA has filed these spurious lawsuits, simply bullying people and employing dubious tactics. And despite not ever actually winning a fully litigated case, instead just trying to steamroll people into paying ridiculous damages, the RIAA rolls on. At some point, shouldn't somebody put a stop to these bogus suits, and force the RIAA to own up to the consequences of using the legal system as its personal sandbox? The costs of these individual cases mean nothing to the RIAA, even if they have to pay a defendant's legal bills, but the costs to the people they're suing -- who are often innocent, but are bullied into settling -- are significant. Why are they allowed to continue? Keep in mind, too, that the lawsuits have done nothing to stop file-sharing.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Scott, 28 Jul 2006 @ 1:27pm

    Tort Reform Misinformation

    The claim that insurance costs have skyrocketed due to tort litigation is a lie. Both the frequency of awards and the amount of awards have dropped consistently the last 10 years. The cost of insurance has skyrocketed due to poor investment decisions by insurance companies during the dotcom era. Events such as 9/11 also caused premium increases. By focusing attention on lawyers, insurance companies have been able to show record profits the last few years while convincing the naive that it was the bad old lawyers. Statistics also show that the average net pay for physicians has also increased. That's after accounting for med-mal premiums.

    If lawyers were truly the problem, significant tort reform would result in lower insurance premiums, right? No state that has enacted tort reform has seen a significant drop in med-mal rates. Only California has seen such a drop and only because it enacted insurance reform requiring premiums to actually be tied to actuarial risk, as opposed to using premiums to offset other business losses.

    As for the contingency fee system, it is the only way poor litigants can assert their rights. Lawyers take a contingency case knowing that they may spend years litigating against a wealthy corporation and receive nothing at the end. The system thus allows for large recoveries in some cases to offset losses in others. Also, it allows Plaintiff's lawyers to take cases where damages may not be as important as principle. Without this kind of system, only the wealthy could afford to seek redress of their grievances.

    Also, about 5% of the doctors commit about 50% of the malpractice. Yet, in my home state of Oklahoma, it appears that not a single doctor has ever lost a license due to committing multiple malpractice. Sleep with a patient or give out drugs and you're gone. Commit gross negligence over and over and you're okay. I once had a client who had been sued 8 times for malpractice and his insurer had settled every one. He was still practicing.

    Finally, I find it interesting that so many people believe that a jury is intelligent enough to determine whether someone should be executed or spend the remainder of their life imprisoned, but not intelligent enough to decide how much to award someone who has been injured by the negligence of another.

    I have personally been an advocate of comprehensive reform, not just "reform" designed to limit access to the courts for the poor. There are certainly some legal reforms that make sense. Adopting the federal summary judgment rules in state courts, setting a P&S limit (well above $250,000), but a limit nonetheless and discouraging the small number of truly frivolous lawsuits by punishing the attorneys that file them. However, these reforms will change nothing if they aren't coupled with insurance reform, such as tying premium increases to increases in actuarial risk and medical reform, such as drastically increasing the administrative prosecution of bad doctors. Do all three and you'll have a system that compensates victims, punishes wrongdoers, protects the innocent and keeps costs down.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.