Legally Speaking, This Stinks!

There are many, many things right in our country. While freedom is one near the very top of the list, something is not right when the "" web site helps proliferate lawsuit abuse. Read for yourself in an installment from the Heartland Institute’s Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly.

A lawyer referral Web site is causing controversy in Florida over rules governing legal advertising. It’s called “” and features a drop-down menu suggesting possible causes of action to wannabe litigants.

Under nursing home abuse, for instance, there are numerous subcategories, such as bed sores, dehydration, and falls and fractures. Lawyers are matched with clients by zip codes. Listed under “Hot Topics” are car accidents, bankruptcy, divorce, DUIs, foreclosure, overtime, mortgage loan modifications, and wrongful termination.

Strict rules apply to lawyer advertising, but the service isn’t, legally speaking, lawyering, so they may be exempt from those rules, though the matter hasn’t been finally resolved.

Business seems to be booming, with 250 law firms signed up and about 25,000 visits to the Web site every month. The service operates in California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and other states. Lawyers using the service rave about it.

“I’m getting probably twice as many phone calls,” one said. Another said his phone hasn’t stopped ringing. “The name was catchy,” he added. “I was upset I didn’t think of it.”

Others called the advertising “egregious” and a “disgrace.”

Turning 14 Days Into Fortnightly, Lawsuit Style

The only previous time I recall hearing the term "fortnight" is when the Wimbledon tennis championship rolls around each summer. The Brits (and the Americans who report on the event) love the word instead of just saying 14 days. Who can blame them? It’s a chance to be different — except when everyone is doing the same thing.

I had the pleasure of attending matches at Centre Court at Wimbldeon a few years ago. My family was able to soak in many of the British traditions, as well as witness a streaker who was trying his best to impress Maria Sharapova. It seemed to take a fortnight to get him off the court and out of the stadium.

But I digress. The topic was fortnight and how it was rarely seen until the Heartland Institute’s development of the Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly. When I first became aware of this online reality look at just what’s wrong with our court system and why it costs us so much money, the updates were coming infrequently (at least not on a fortnightly basis). The British must have complained, because the 2009 updates have been appearing like fortnightly clockwork.

While I’m happy to see the time schedule aligned, it’s sad that the editors can so easily come up with enough cases of abuse to share on a biweekly basis — or every 14 days —  or fortnightly.

My favorite from the current edition is below. Read all the latest bizarre news.

A 78-year-old Wisconsin woman is suing the Monroe, Wisconsin senior citizens center after she was barred from it for violating the center’s code of conduct.

She alleges the center violated her right to free speech and its code of conduct is unconstitutional after the center wrote her saying she failed to treat others with respect, used abusive language, and physically threatened others. The center said they’d let her back in if she completed an anger management course.

“She, in my view, is entitled to [compensation], but her main goal is to be able to enjoy the senior center,” said her attorney.

Loony Lawsuits Unfortunately Keep Coming Back

A recent fact I read: there are more than 169,000 law offices in the United States. And, just like any profession, most of the lawyers operating out of those offices are doing the right thing. Put all the jokes aside — for now. Lawyers play a critical role in many aspects of everyday business and life.

But there are, just like any profession, some wishing to take shortcuts to get the job done or utilize their knowledge for their own personal gain. And when the legal system allows that abuse to occur, watch out.

That’s why there has to be an Institute for Legal Reform and an occasional publication from the Heartland Institute titled Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly. You hear about one of these "cases too bad to be true" and you might not give it a second thought. Check out these resources and you get a litany of those "bad" examples, enough to make you a little queasy.

The latest Heartland offering has its usual array of bizarre court cases — each carrying a price tag in time and resources no matter the outcome. This issue includes a contribution from the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and their "top five looniest lawsuits" of 2008.

Check it out, shake your head and feel free to let your representatives in Washington know that change is long overdue.