Stephanie Mencimer

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The Fake Crisis over Lawsuits: Who’s Paying to Keep the Myths Alive?

Over the past two years, the average media consumer would be under the impression that the nation is awash with lawsuits, greedy trial lawyers and out of control juries eager to punish corporate America with million-dollar verdicts. The airwaves and newspapers have been flooded with hundreds of stories on the legal system, with common references to the justice system as a lottery for the undeserving and most lawsuits as “frivolous.” And many of the stories carry glaring factual errors. A few examples: In November 2002, viewers of “60 Minutes” learned that Mississippi was the nation’s capital of “jackpot justice,” where “plaintiffs’ lawyers have found that juries in rural, impoverished places can be mighty sympathetic when one of their own goes up against a big, rich, multinational corporation.” In the story, Morley Safer interviewed a local florist who had received a multi-million dollar settlement in a lawsuit over the diet drug Redux. The unnamed florist alleged that trial lawyers were bribing jurors to give big awards. “The jury awarded these people this money because they felt

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