Dueling lobbies bristle over tort reform but play it for laughs

Dallas Morning News
Sunday, January 23, 2005

Earlier this month a group called Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch made news around the world by crowning the commode cleaner caveat as winner of its eighth annual Wacky Warning Label contest.

Joanne Doroshow is executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, which thinks tort reform is a plot to cripple the rights of consumers.
On the phone from New York, she's pleasant, even jocular. But she's also a little annoyed that MLAW's publicity stunt puts her on the defensive.
"This is using manipulative anecdotes to demonize the whole process of warning labels and turn people against the system that protects us," Ms. Doroshow says. "It's part of a movement by business interests to get control of the court system."
Uh-oh. Danger...eyes glazing over. But wait! The Center for Justice and Democracy has jokes, too.
Last month Ms. Doroshow's group struck back with its first Zany Immunity Law Awards, aimed at making you angry about the power of special interests in state legislatures. Among the winners:
*In Indiana, according to the CJD, a cemetery owner can't be sued for burying somebody in the wrong place or digging up the wrong nonliving person.
*In Colorado, volunteers at bingo games have limited immunity if they hurt somebody.
*A few states protect hunters who donate their kill to charity, even if the meat makes people sick.
*In Maryland, store owners have limited immunity if a customer dies in an employee bathroom.
"We did this as kind of a goof," Ms. Doroshow says.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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