Nearly nine out of ten Americans think lawsuit abuse is a problem.
The other 10 percent are suing them. (Little joke, there.)
According to a poll released last week by the American Tort Reform Association and a group called Sick of Lawsuits, 89 percent of survey respondents are concerned about lawsuit abuse.
Needless to say, business groups are touting the results of the survey while trial lawyer associations dismiss them.
"The results of the survey are clear," said Richie Heath, executive director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. "Americans believe that lawsuit abuse is a serious problem and they want to see lawmakers do something about it."
Scott Blass, president of the West Virginia Association for Justice, responded, "This so-called study isn't news. It's business as usual from the American Tort Reform Association."
That's what you'd expect from a guy who represents the interests of trial lawyers.
Here's the thing, though: the American Tort Reform Association and West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse don't condemn all lawsuits, just abusive ones.
Why, then, is the West Virginia Association for Justice so defensive on this subject?
No doubt Blass and his associates would define lawsuit abuse more narrowly than Heath and his associates, but surely the WVAJ can agree with their pro-business rivals that lawsuit abuse does occur, that some in the legal profession make a habit of engaging in it, and that our courts and our economy would benefit from curbing such abuse.
Are there no lawsuits whatsoever that Blass and his justice league would consider abusive? Is there nothing some lawyers can do that would be considered beyond the pale?
Maybe the Blass group can supply its own definition of lawsuit abuse and a couple of examples of recent court cases that qualify.
There needs to be some common ground between Blass and Heath, some ethical overlap that would allow them to work together for the good of all.