Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Lawsuit Culture

Philip K. Howard, the founder of Common Good, writes in the City Journal about the lawsuit culture:

But a lawsuit culture still corrodes daily relations throughout society. Doctors practice defensive medicine to ward off patient lawsuits and hesitate to intercede against inept colleagues, fearful of years of litigation. Businesses won’t give job references. Teachers have lost control of the classroom—78 percent of middle and high school teachers surveyed recently reported that students had threatened them with lawsuits for violating their rights. Distrust of justice may be at a new low: only 16 percent of Americans said that they would trust the justice system if someone brought a baseless claim against them.

Hardest hit are activities that are optional. Fun, for example, is fraught with fear. Schools ban dodgeball and tag. Jungle gyms, diving boards, and seesaws seem relics of some past civilization. Meanwhile our children, rescued from the risks of roughhousing and accident, suffer from the far greater risk of obesity, now at epidemic proportions.

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