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Michael Phelan
Michael Phelan
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Why Do Pols Support States' Rights Only When it Suits Their Donors?

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On the issue of tort reform, Rick Perry used to be for States’ rights before he was against them. He now believes the federal government should trump the citizens of local communities in determining the outcome of civil jury trials. This flies in the face of the original intent of the framers of the Constitution who believed it was important to guaranty the right to trial by jury under common law. See Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment VII. It also represents a complete flip-flop by Perry on the issue.

The truth about the "reforms" pushed by the likes of Rick Perry is that they screw individual citizens and benefit large corporate donors who contribute to politicians who agree to push the tort reform agenda. Here’s an example. The 42 year-old San Francisco Giants fan, Bryan Stowe, who was brutally beaten and had his skull fractured and frontal lobe of his brain damaged by thugs at a Dodgers game, has severe brain damage that will likely affect his memory, thinking ability and personality. He remains in critical condition. Forbes.com reports that Mr. Stowe’s medical care may cost more than $50 million. I’m guessing this figure assumes that he’ll require lifetime institutional care.

Here’s the point. If Congress passes an arbitrary cap on the damages one may recover in a civil jury trial for bodily injuries [note: no politician dares to suggest that there should be caps on what a business can recover from a jury in a business dispute], people like Bryan Stowe with catastrophic injuries will be unjustly denied full and fair compensation for their injuries. Who then bears the cost of Mr. Stowe’s treatment? According to Rick Perry and other "tort reformers," it would be you and me– the taxpayers. As long as it’s not the big donors!