TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Loaded, Meet Question

An interesting, but ultimately pretty empty, poll released by the Institute for Legal Reform (via Overlawyered.)  Its basic idea (and clearly the goal of doing the poll in the first place) is to argue that Democrats should include litigation reform in their agenda, and that swing voters would support them more if they did so.  That may in fact be so.  But the questions so strongly suggest the answers that, while it's not quite push polling, it's certainly not terribly convincing.  For instance:

5. If Democrats win the majority of seats in Congress and their agenda for next year included reforms to end lawsuit abuse by trial lawyers, would that give you a – more favorable or less favorable impression of the Democrats in Congress?

6. If your Member of Congress voted FOR reforms to end lawsuit abuse by trial lawyers would you be more likely or less likely to vote for him or her, or would it make no different in your vote decision?

Well, shucks, I'm against lawsuit abuse by trial lawyers!  I'd guess most trial lawyers would say they're against lawsuit abuse by trial lawyers.  Lawsuit abuse is bad!  Bad!

7. Agree/Disagree:

There are too many lawsuits filed in America, which ends up making all of us pay more for everyday goods and services.

There are too many lawsuits filed in America, which clogs up the court system and makes it harder for those truly injured to get justice.

Again, yeah, that makes sense!  I heard about that one time that the woman sued the store because her own son made her fall down, and that other time the guy who was stealing a hubcap sued the driver for running over his hand.  And I had to wait a long time to contest my traffic ticket.

Perhaps more damaging to the conclusions is that the poll focused exclusively on issues of legal reform.  I didn't see a single exit poll that included litigation reform as a common (or even uncommon) response to open-ended questions: "Asked which issues were extremely important to their vote, 42 percent said corruption and ethics; 40 percent, terrorism; 39 percent, the economy; 37 percent, Iraq; 36 percent, values; and 29 percent, illegal immigration." (CNN; see also Gallup's Top Ten, which does include healthcare and "fixing government itself," but neither of those items indicates litigation reform). 

I've noted my support for a fair number of reforms, and opposition to others, in the past; that's not what this post is about.  But this poll doesn't convince me of anything except that the Institute for Legal Reform would like (surprise!) legal reform, and that a lot of people believe -- accurately or not -- that the legal system is overrun with crazy lawsuits, especially when asked a leading question suggesting that to be the case.

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» It's tort reform, stupid. from The Tortellini
As Republicans tear their shirts over their electoral debacle last week, a few of them are blaming GOP candidates for not doing more to emphasize their tort reform successes. On the flip side, apparently some people believe GOP candidates lost [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 13, 2006 6:54:25 AM


"I didn't see a single exit poll that included litigation reform as a common (or even uncommon) response to open-ended questions..."

As was noted in yesterday's Commmon Good forum - "A crisis in necessary to pass legislation. If you don't have a crisis, manufacture one."

Posted by: Seth | Nov 9, 2006 7:57:20 AM

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