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Monday, October 4

Dick Cheney. Trial Lawyer.  

It's probably too late for Edwards to be able to work this information into his debate prep for tomorrow night, but one question sure to be raised is about tort reform and trial lawyers.  Apropos Max links to this pdf report by Public Citizen. The report opens:
Business lobbyists and their political allies have created a perception that America's legal system has run amok. They point the finger at consumer and patient lawsuits, which they imply are concocted by "greedy trial lawyers." They argue that lawsuits have detrimental effects on society and the economy, and effectively suggest that people should turn the other cheek when their rights are violated. President Bush and Vice President Cheney mimic these erroneous claims and make attacks on the legal system a central part of their campaign stump speeches. "See, everybody is getting sued," says the President, and the lawsuits are "junk and frivolous."
Then in paragraph three of the introduction, the report drops the key nugget viz. tomorrow night:
Oddly enough, Vice President Cheney, who frequently attacks lawyers in his speeches, typifies the hardball litigation stance of corporate America. During Cheney's five-year tenure as its CEO, the Halliburton corporation filed over 150 lawsuits, seeking money from other corporations, individuals, and insurance companies.
So Cheney filed 30 lawsuits a year as CEO of Halliburton.  I don't know how many Edwards himself or the average trial lawyer files annually, but I would love to see Cheney confronted with this.  The text of the report is about 20 pages with another 20 pages of tables and end notes.  Worth a skim. Here's the summary table from the report of lawsuits filed in four counties in 2001:
JurisdictionPhiladelphia, PAArkansasCook County, ILMississippi
Number of Business Lawsuits64,69820,868137,89045,891
Number of Individual/Trial Attoney Lawsuits19,7514,78626,9387,959
Ratio of Business to Individual Lawsuits3.3 to 14.4 to 15.3 to 15.8 to 1


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