WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - A campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform says frivolous lawsuits are harming small businesses and the families that rely on them.
The initiative, Faces of Lawsuit Abuse, highlights small business owners who say the cost of fighting foundation-less lawsuits has caused them problems. The ILR owns the West Virginia Record.
"Abusive lawsuits are not victimless," ILR President Lisa Rickard said. "Many people have the perception that lawsuits are primarily the concern of faceless, 'deep-pocket' corporations, yet small businesses and average families are also victims of these abusive suits."
Included in the collection of video stories on the Web site are:
-Two South Korean immigrants who continue to pay to fight a lawsuit brought by a former Washington, D.C., administrative law judge who wants $54 million because they allegedly misplaced his pants at their now-closed dry cleaning business;
-The closing of Basketball Town, a youth basketball facility in California, due to the costs associated with fighting a lawsuit brought by the handicapped family member of a child who was having a party there. Basketball Town offered to move the party to a downstairs area to accommodate the man, who was in a wheelchair, but the family refused; and
-A Maryland pool supply owner who was sued for $750,000 by a woman who was startled and fell after a wild goose nesting near his store startled her.
The ILR will run television, radio and on-line advertisements through early 2009. An election night poll commissioned by the ILR said 83 percent of voters believe the number of frivolous lawsuits in the country is a problem.
"The people featured in this campaign all suffered real emotional and financial pain," Rickard said. "By giving voices to their stories, we hope that Americans will understand that our lawsuit-happy culture is taking a toll on their friends, neighbors and local businesses."