Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week: This affects all of us

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ATRA President Tiger Joyce spoke with Juliette Farley of the Southern California Record about Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week and business interruption lawsuits.

This article was originally published by the Southern California Record.

More than 5,000 lawsuits have been filed nationwide relating to COVID-19 and the types of complaints the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) is most concerned about are small businesses suing insurers.

“The reality is the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has stated publicly that most businesses don’t have the sort of coverage for what happens because of these shutdowns or because of the reduction in business,” said Tiger Joyce, president of ATRA. “Actual physical damage to business from wildfires in California and hurricanes on the Gulf Coast are the matters that are generally contemplated.”

Joyce was promoting Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, which takes place yearly and started on Monday, Oct. 5.

“The focus is to help bring attention to the excesses and abuses in the civil justice system … These are matters that affect all of us.”

“The focus is to help bring attention to the excesses and abuses in the civil justice system and to let people know that these are not just matters for lawyers or professors,” he said. “These are matters that affect all of us. We all have a stake in a balanced and equitable system that works equally and in support of the interests of both those bringing the cases and in those defending them.”

According to ATRA, a common complaint in California and other states is that trial lawyers concoct unfounded legal theories, then flood media markets with advertising that encourages people to sue, create massive public pressure on companies they target and ultimately flood the court system with litigation.

“They run extensive ads to generate potential clients and in addition to quantifying the volume of ads that are run, it’s been documented that some of the ads are really quite problematic from a health standpoint,” Joyce told the Southern California Record. “People see what looks like ominous warnings about the medications their doctors have prescribed for them and they stop taking their medication.” 

Regarding coronavirus litigation, Joyce said that for the most part, lawsuits being brought are dismissed because judges “are actually looking at the insurance policies and making that judgment.”

“It’s regrettable because when we have a situation like this what really should happen is society needs to step up and help businesses that have been shut down by mandates or just by the sheer force of the pandemic and not having customers,” he said.

In California alone, the state Department of Public Health reported 834,800 coronavirus cases and 16,361 fatalities as of Oct. 8.

“There still is a lot of uncertainty about how this is going to play out,” said Joyce. “We see this issue as one where state legislatures and governors are going to have to wrestle with because we’re obviously still in this pandemic. It hasn’t ended and businesses and individuals are still making decisions about how they should operate, what they can do, what they can’t do, what the appropriate steps are and what sort of procedures they should implement.”

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