Bob Dorigo Jones

CFA Senior Fellow

 

Bob Dorigo Jones, Senior Fellow at Center for America, is a leading spokesperson about abuses in the civil justice system and what we should do about them.  For more than two decades, he has been educating the public about how families, communities, and job providers are hurt by out-of-control lawsuit abuse.

"Let's Be Fair!" is broadcast weekly on more than 600 radio stations nationwide, including the Cumulus Network.  The dynamic and entertaining commentaries are heard by tens of millions of Americans each week, making "Let's Be Fair!" the widest-reaching and longest-running legal reform media program ever.

Send an email Bob with your stories!  Bob@CenterForAmerica.org

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LBF Archive:  2013  2012  2011

 

Wacky Warning Labels Contest - 2015

A smoke alarm has a warning that says "Silence feature is intended to temporarily silence the horn…It will not extinguish a fire," and a bag of frozen catfish warns, "Contains fish" – two of this year’s 5 Finalists in the 18th annual Wacky Warning Labels™ Contest announced this week. These warnings are hilarious, but the cost of the lawsuits that makes these labels necessary is no laughing matter, says Bob Dorigo Jones in this week’s "Let’s Be Fair!"

 

New Movie:  Victim is American Company

Another lawsuit over alleged pollution by an American corporation is being made into a movie, but this time, it's the company that's the victim. An Ecuador court ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion for rainforest pollution, but a U.S. court found widespread extortion and witness tampering by the plaintiff lawyer. Actor Brad Pitt bought the rights to the story, so Americans may see how predatory lawyers game the system and harm justice.

 

X-Ray McNuggets?

Should McDonald's x-ray its McNuggets? A new lawsuit asserts that the restaurant has a duty to inspect every single one of its chicken nuggets – all 1.5 billion sold each year. The alleged injury – biting a bone fragment – should be a relatively easy matter for McDonald's to make right, but alternatives like mediation are faster, less expensive, and often arrive at truly fair compensation for the victims.

 

$180 Taxpayer Lawsuit Bill

Do you know how much you pay in taxes for lawsuits against your local governments? Taxpayers in a suburb of Detroit found out the hard way – they will pay an extra $180 to cover the costs of a lawsuit that the city's insurance couldn’t cover, demonstrating how all of us pay for the lawsuit epidemic, taxpayers included.

 

Too Hot to Touch:  Lawsuits and Warnings

Warning labels are everywhere, but they don't always stop lawsuits – a California woman sued a computer maker after she fell asleep with her arm in contact with the computer’s power cable. Despite warnings about skin contact with heated cables, her lawyers are arguing there should be more warnings, but experts believe that too many warnings actually make us less safe.

 

U.S. Companies: Twice as Many Lawsuits

A new survey shows that American companies face twice the litigation of their counterparts in other countries – and that the number of companies spending at least $10 million a year on lawsuits has nearly doubled in the past two years alone.

 

Courts Can Better Protect Freedom

This week is the 300th episode of "Let’s Be Fair!", marking a milestone in the national dialogue about lawsuit abuse and its impact on our communities, jobs, and wallets – America remains a place that people come to enjoy freedom, so we must continue to work together to raise awareness that courts can better protect that freedom by cracking down on abusive lawsuits.

 

A Rose is a Rose is a ... Lawsuit?

The poet Gertrude Stein observed that "a rose is a rose is a rose," and the law is the clearest place to see it in action: The "open and obvious rule" says that things like knives are sharp, and therefore require more care to use them. Today, too many judges are abandoning common sense, like the case of a man who pricked his finger on a rose in a store and then sued the store.

 

McDonald's Lawsuit -- Not What You Think!

Everyone knows about the hot coffee lawsuit, but McDonald's has experienced an even more outrageous case - a motorist was hit by a driver who spilled his milkshake, and the motorist sued McDonald's for failing to warn about the dangers of driving with a milkshake! Eventually thrown out, the case cost millions to defend and the NJ court denied reimbursement for fees.

 

Good Wine vs. Lawyer Whining

California wine is under attack by plaintiff lawyers alleging hazardous arsenic levels, despite strict regulatory agencies in Europe and Canada that say every California wine is safe – demonstrating how too many courts are allowing fear mongering to trump actual science in the U.S.

 

America's New Pastime:  Lawsuits

America's favorite pastime takes another strike, as a NY minor league team no longer offers 2 free tickets to fans who return a foul ball – a fan wearing headphones was struck by a drunk driver in the parking lot chasing a home run, but sued the club instead, costing thousands of dollars and one more fun tradition lost.

 

Taxpayers Robbed Twice

An Arizona inmate filed more than 3,200 lawsuits in one year, helping set an all-time national record in 2014 of more than 60,000 civil lawsuits filed by prisoners - and costing taxpayers millions and clogging the courts.

 

Winner Pays -- Wi-Fi Lawsuit

A New Mexico woman was sued for $1.4 million by a neighbor who alleged that her cell phone and Wi-Fi in her own house was harming his health – and five years after the appeal and the woman "won," she still had to pay $80,000 in legal fees – a problem that’s uniquely American.

 

No Bikes at School!

Fearing lawsuits and liability, more schools have banned bicycling to and from the classrooms – even as a top cycling organization reports that such bans may actually increase liability issues. More than 8 million families are affected by the cycling bans, which infringe on parental choice and student health, according to experts.

 

Lawsuits Bring Out ADA Conflicts

Thousands of lawsuits filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can result in very unusual verdicts, like the 911 operator who fell asleep on an emergency call yet was allowed to keep his job. But what happens when conflicting disabilities collide in court? When a Connecticut taxi driver with a phobia of dogs refused a blind person with a service dog, a court sided with the dog's owner – but other federal laws create confusion with the ADA's provisions.

 

Not-So-Sweet Lawsuit

Two of America’s largest candy makers are being sued by a group alleging that, under California’s controversial Prop 65, they failed to put labels on their candy indicating that chocolate contains lead. Despite FDA testing and a recent Wall Street Journal article showing that there are no scientifically verified public-health benefits of Prop 65, the chocolate makers join a long line of companies sued under California’s "label law."

 

Common Sense Court

An appeals court throws out a negligence lawsuit against a city after a boy falls from a tree on which he was climbing – the lawyer argued the city should have warned against the dangers, but the court held that generations of people have known about climbing trees and the risk of falling. Where is this common sense court? Canada, which has one-quarter of the lawsuits the U.S. has on a per capita basis.

 

Woman Sues Herself

Lacking any other potential defendants, a Utah woman sues herself for reckless driving following the death of her husband – and the state's Court of Appeals allows the lawsuit to move forward, marking a new low in the "who can we sue?" lawsuit culture that’s developed in America.

 

Fighting Diseases is Costly

New cancer treatment breakthroughs are threatened by what venture capitalist Standish Fleming calls "a disease of extortion by plaintiffs' lawyers looking to make a quick buck," citing more than $3 million in legal costs faced by every small biotech company in America fighting diseases.

 

Gas Can Folly

An Oregon man is suing WalMart for $13 million because he bought a gasoline can which he used to pour gas onto a fire, resulting in injuries – WalMart is fighting back because a large warning label on the can specifically warns against this action. Why is the man not suing the gas can company? The 100-year old company that supplied cans to the American WWII effort went bankrupt several years ago defending against a barrage of lawsuits.

 

Ol' Abe Says "Avoid Lawsuits!"

One of America's greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was also one of our greatest lawyers - and he urged repeatedly that Americans avoid filing lawsuits whenever possible - too costly and too burdensome!

 

Bad Weather = Lawsuit Fears

In response to bad weather, cities and schools (NYC, University of Michigan, and others) are closing and suspending services with more frequency than ever before – but it’s less out of an abundance of caution and more out of an abundance of fear of threatened lawsuits.

 

Philadelphia Freedom?  Phony Tax Bills

A major U.S. city sends phony inflated tax assessments to some in the hopes of getting taxpayers to complain. A taxpayer challenged the phony tax bill in court, lost on a technicality, and was forced to pay the inflated bill. The judge, however, acknowledged "the city's strong-arm collection tactics may well lack authority in law."

 

Famous Judge Warns About Lawsuits

One of America's most esteemed judges, Learned Hand, a century ago warned that we should fear lawsuits more than anything short of sickness or death - the modern American litigation model amplifies this fear with costs and disruption to businesses and families.

 

Warning:  No Sleds Allowed!

Snowy conditions bring out kids and sleds, but many cities are now banning sleds in major parks because of big-dollar lawsuits and judges who create a “slippery slope” by allowing the suits to move forward.

 

Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions?

In his pamphlet, “Common Sense”, Thomas Paine urged colonists to challenge their habits. He helped spark a revolution, and his advice is still good today as millions of Americans decide whether to stick to their New Year’s resolutions.

 

Top 2014 Story:  Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility sounds like a dated concept, but when a college professor took the McDonald's challenge and ate nothing but menu items for 30 days, he lost 37 pounds and his cholesterol improved 70 points – in stark contrast to the "consumer investigator" who made a movie about his 30-day weight gain experience eating McDonald's food that inspired hundreds of lawsuits against the restaurant chain.

 

Reputation:  Courts v. Mediation

Is reputation everything? A law professor recently surveyed students to rank the reputation of law schools – Penn State ranked high, although it had no law school at the time. Likewise, courts have the reputation as the only place to resolve disputes, when mediation and arbitration are often more cost-effective, fair and fast.

 

It's Not Science Fiction!

How about a $20 check from a lawsuit you didn't join and didn’t agree with? College computer science student, entrepreneur, and science fiction writer Jonathon Sourbeer's recent Wall Street Journal column slams the lawyers who sued Toyota and pocketed more than $200 million – 500 times more than the primary plaintiffs – when Sourbeer is a happy Toyota customer.

 

"Sucker Born Every Minute"

The famous saying attributed to circus founder PT Barnum was actually said by a banker who bought a fake stone carving, claiming it was a prehistoric man, and sold tickets to the public – and when Barnum bought his own fake “prehistoric man,” the banker sued him. Lesson learned? Don’t sue a scammer, if you’re a scammer, too.

 

Landslide National Vote - Lawsuit Crisis

According to a U.S. Chamber national survey taken during Election Week, there’s at least one issue on which Americans are in complete agreement – 80 percent of all Americans, including Independents, Democrats and Republicans – believe that lawsuits are a serious problem and that Congress or state lawmakers should do something about reining in the tidal wave of costly litigation.

 

Noriega and "Harm to Reputation"

Courts have held that famous people are entitled to payment if their image is used in video games, but when imprisoned Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega sued alleging “harm to his reputation,” an American judge threw out the case, striking a blow for common sense.

 

User Error Wins Court Settlement

Drop your iPod in water and it stops working – user error, right? But when you receive a $100 check as part of a settlement from a lawsuit you didn’t know existed against Apple, it’s clear the company decided to cut its losses and settle the case – a high-profile example of the “cost of doing business” in our lawsuit-happy culture.  What happened to the $100?  Read more here:  http://www.bobdorigojones.com/2014/10/31/waterlogged-ipod-provides-a-troubling-lesson-about-americas-legal-system/

 

Scarier than Halloween: Lawsuit Threats

As Halloween approaches, warning labels abound – and CFA’s annual Wacky Warning Labels Contest found a Batman cape costume featured on Japanese and French TV that warns, “Cape does not enable user to fly,” highlighting how lawsuits can be scarier than Halloween for many Americans.

 

"Future of Law Enforcement"

A new technology the size of a deck of playing cards is being called “the future of law enforcement” – portable cameras that have resulted in 60% reduction in use of force and 80% reduction in citizen complaints in one community alone – but the biggest benefit is the reduction of lawsuits, giving some relief to taxpayers.

 

Ebola -- and Measles!

As ebola fears spread, another disease – measles – is showing up again in America, due to a now-exposed fraud that measles vaccines could cause autism in children. Plaintiff attorneys paid the fraudster to fabricate evidence for lawsuits against vaccine-makers, again turning American health on the wheel of lawsuit jeopardy.

 

Women Sues Own Lawyer: ADA

A California woman who filed 243 lawsuits alleging businesses violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has now sued her lawyer because he alleged falsely in some of the lawsuits that she is blind and in a wheelchair, highlighting how thousands of abusive ADA-driven lawsuits do nothing to improve the lives of the disabled, but add to costs for all.

 

Cell Phones and Cars: Safety Innovation Stalled

Every day, 9 Americans die on our roads due to distractions from texting, talking or emailing on cell phones – but good news as a NASA scientist develops the “holy grail” of cell phone safety in cars. The problem is, the technology is stalled because lawsuit fears have driven away investors and developers.

 

One Inmate: 3,365 Lawsuits This Year

This year alone, one prison inmate has filed 3,356 lawsuits – more than all filed in Maine, New Hampshire, and Wyoming combined – and California taxpayers have spent $200 million defending inmate lawsuits over the past 15 years – a crisis that demands judicial intervention for our overburdened courts.

 

Reckless Golfer, But Course Gets Sued

Three golfers on the green are told by their fourth to putt away – and then he drives the ball toward the green, injuring one of the golfers. The hurt golfer sues the man, but also sues the golf course for not posting warning about the dangers of golf. Allowing the lawsuit against the course when a golfer does something reckless doesn’t make golf safer, just more expensive.

 

Back to School Lawsuits?

As kids go back to school, it’s the parents who have homework – signing waivers and authorization forms designed to avoid lawsuits, as a major study reveals half of teachers and administrators have been threatened with a lawsuit.

 

PMS Warning: Enlarged Prostate?

One of the best Wacky Warning Labels™ never picked in the annual contest is for PMS Midol, which warns, “Do not use if you have an enlarged prostate.” You don’t have to be a doctor to know that someone suffering from PMS does not have a prostate, but it’s a valid warning for men who might need a pain reliever.

 

Lawsuit Paid in Coins

An insurance company sued by a man claiming he had been assaulted denied wrongdoing, but settled the case and paid the settlement in…a dozen large buckets of coins, sending a message about the frustration with excessive litigation.

 

U.S. GDP Lawsuit Costs:  $589 Billion More

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) cost for lawsuits is $589 billion more than what we would pay if we simply had the same lawsuit costs as other industrialized countries, which spend 1 percent of their GDP on civil and tort litigation – so imagine what could be done with that money in our economy.

 

Baseball Bats and Lawsuits

Most youth baseball leagues use aluminum bats to save money and increase safety. Despite the injuries that have been prevented by aluminum bats, manufacturers have been sued in recent years – making Little League more expensive, not safer!

 

Lawsuits Holding Up Vital Sunscreens?

As more Americans than ever are diagnosed with skin cancer, lawsuit fears have slowed FDA approval of TIME Magazine-cited safe sunscreens available in Canada and Europe that could help millions in the U.S.

 

Down the Garden Path

A well-known Connecticut artist and gardener spent years giving tours of her gardens, donating the proceeds to charities – until a married couple sued her for pain and suffering when the wife twisted her ankle in the gardens. The artist closed the gardens, fearing the loss of her home in the process – so no more charity support.

 

Fasten Your Seatbelt! In a Gondola?

Gently floating in a Venetian gondola is a low-risk dream-come-true for many people; unlike the original gondolas in Italy, the Las Vegas version requires safety belts - a fact noted by a Venetian gondolier living in the U.S.: "the difference is American personal injury lawyers."

 

Would You Drink Printer Ink?

The 17th annual Wacky Warning Labels Contest brings to light new outrageous warnings like "Do not drink" (on a tiny ink toner cartridge) and "get rid of children" (on a cell phone battery charger made in a foreign company) that show just how far manufacturers believe they have to go to avoid the growing cost of lawsuits in America.

 

Airlines Square Off -- No Lawsuit

Twenty years ago, two airline companies discovered that they were using the exact same advertising slogan. It was quite a coincidence, but both executives knew that only one company could keep using it - instead of a lawsuit, they agreed to a public arm-wrestling match, with proceeds going to local charities - solving their problems without litigation.

 

Judges: "Mere Machines"

Thomas Jefferson said that judges should be “mere machines,” deciding cases based on what the law is – not what they want it to be – which creates predictability in court and confidence among the people that there is “equal justice under law.”

 

No "Frozen Joy"

A famous Scandanavian-sounding ice cream company sued another famous Scandanavian-sounding ice cream company to stop them from using the “frozen joy” name – only to admit in court before being dismissed that the suing company’s name actually has no meaning, forcing the judge to put a deep freeze on the lawsuit.

 

College Internships No More?

College internships may become a thing of the past, thanks to lawsuits against high-profile companies and individuals like TV personality Charlie Rose, who have been sued by students claiming they should have been paid – over and above the valuable work experience.

 

Cleaning Up a Lawsuit Mess

A Kansas school district suspended an elementary school janitor for sunbathing in the nude on the roof of a school, so when the janitor was denied head custodial jobs at 7 other schools, he sued the school district, lost, appealed, and lost again – all at taxpayer expense. The district was attempting to avoid a lawsuit, but they wound up in court anyway.

 

Most Outrageous Lawsuit Ever?

A New York man has filed a lawsuit demanding $2 undecillion - that's a 2 with 36 zeros after it, or more money than on the planet - but this is his 20th lawsuit in 10 years. So, which is more outrageous - the amount he demands, or the fact the courts allow him to continue filing lawsuits?

 

17th Annual Wacky Warning Labels Contest

From the moment we wake to the moment we put our heads on the pillow, we are bombarded with warning labels, an often-humorous, always costly sign that America is a lawsuit-happy society – as we kick off the 2014 Wacky Warning Labels™ Contest to showcase how costly it’s become.

 

Football Text Fumble Lawsuit

NFL’s Buffalo Bills were forced to settle a $3 million dollar lawsuit filed by a fan who received three extra text messages after signing up to receive 5 texts from the team per week – adding to the “sue first, ask questions later” American lawsuit crisis.

 

Lawsuits and Public Safety

Chicago’s police department spends half a billion taxpayer dollars each year defending lawsuits, many of which are frivolous, thus monopolizing precious tax dollars and jeopardizing public safety – and this is only one government office in one major city.

 

Sue Thy Neighbor Outrage Inspires Attorney

We heard about a lawsuit, brought it to the attention of major newspaper, and it inspired an attorney to donate his time to help a Florida soup kitchen named Love Thy Neighbor when it was sued by a business named Love Your Neighbor – and public response won a dismissal!

 

Wall of Shame

Artist Bob Cassilly, founder of one of the most popular children’s museums in America, the City Museum of St. Louis, posted the names of personal injury lawyers who filed frivolous lawsuits against the museum for all to see, demonstrating one way Americans are fighting back against the lawsuit-happy culture.

 

Good Samaritan Stopped Cold

A quick-thinking Ohio woman began CPR on her office colleague but was told to stop by her supervisor because they might be "held liable if something goes wrong" - sadly, the colleague later died, demonstrating how fear of being sued is changing our 'Good Samaritan' behavior.

 

Little League Lawsuits

Dr. Creighton Hale, a young college professor who joined Little League baseball in 1955 and invented much of today's safety gear, made news when he testified before Congress that Little League spends more on liability insurance to cover against lawsuits than it spends on bats, balls, and gloves combined – which means fewer kids playing organized baseball today.

 

Stranger Than Fiction

The so-called "Stella Awards," given in honor of the McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit plaintiff, are in fact nothing more than urban legends about fake, crazy lawsuits – when there are plenty of true lawsuits that prove truth is stranger than fiction – and more costly.

 

Cookies and Lawsuits

Lawsuits have become as much a part of our lives as the Girl Scouts, Little League, and the YMCA – in one major metropolitan area, the Girl Scouts have to sell 32,000 boxes of cookies to cover the liability insurance just to protect the local organization from lawsuits.

 

Save A Life, Get Sued

After rescue divers pulled a Colorado man to safety when his car plunged into a raging creek, he thanked the first responders for saving his life – then filed an intent to sue them! Costly lawsuits like this actually jeopardize future rescue operations.

 

Teacher Sues Police

A teacher arrested for allegedly making violent threats against her school and referencing the Columbine massacre is suing the police department for $6 million dollars, so how do we expect law enforcement to protect our children under constant threat of lawsuit?

 

Taxpayer "Pain and Suffering"

A man walks into an IRS office owing $60,000, claims he’s injured at the office, sues and a judge awards more than $800,000 in damages – including $750,000 in “pain and suffering” – at taxpayer expense.

 

"Horse Sense Fence"

Artist Shey Hembrey wanted to demonstrate how overcoddled our society has become, so he created miles of barbed wire with a pink warning label on each barb that says, “Warning: Sharp!” that he has called “Horse Sense Fence” – and the popular display has become a symbol of America’s warning label culture.

Read more here: http://www.bobdorigojones.com/2014/02/25/the-horse-sense-fence-offers-humorous-commentary-on-life-in-america/

 

"New Car Smell" Lawsuit

A deadly California car crash involving a man who fell asleep takes a turn when the sleeper sues the carmaker, alleging that "new car smell" made him nod off behind the wheel.

 

Lincoln's Lawsuit Advice

As we celebrate the 205th birthday of Abraham Lincoln – one of America’s greatest Presidents and a talented trial lawyer – his critical advice about lawsuits is more relevant today than ever: “Discourage litigation…the nominal winner is often the loser in time and expense.”

Read more here: http://www.bobdorigojones.com/2014/02/10/great-advice-from-abraham-lincoln-on-the-topic-of-suing-someone/

 

Football and Lawsuits, Or Not

As Americans tuned in to the NFL football championship, we take a look back at the early days of the game, when in 1905, 18 people died from football injuries. Football fan Theodore Roosevelt called for new safety rules, which also resulted in the formation of the NCAA – no lawsuits, just cooperation.

Read more here: http://www.bobdorigojones.com/2014/02/05/when-football-gave-america-a-lesson-in-problem-solving/

 

California Warnings: No Health Benefit

A terrifying warning label required by law on thousands of products reads, “This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer,” but a researcher reveals there isn’t a single empirical study demonstrating any public-health benefits – yet the warning labels have created a massive and costly lawsuit industry.

Read more here: http://www.bobdorigojones.com/2014/01/24/you-know-those-ubiquitous-prop-65-warnings-they-may-be-worthless/

 

Choices, Not Lawsuits

McDonald’s was sued over its menu after a certain filmmaker gained weight eating only the famous restaurant’s food – now, a high school teacher has taken the challenge and actually lost 37 lbs, exercising daily, demonstrating that quality of life boils down to individual choices, not “blame it on the guy with deep pockets.”

 

Class Action, Zero Benefits

A new study reveals that now-common “class action lawsuits” – for which most Americans have received letters telling us we are part of a lawsuit - often result in no money to the plaintiffs, only big payments to the lawyers.

 

Most Unusual Lawsuit of 2013

A Florida plaintiff law firm found itself on the receiving end of a tort case when a client fell out of a chair at their office and sued the firm for injuries – the client won a cash award, and every law firm in Florida must now inspect its chairs every six months.

 

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CFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose programs bring people face to face with issues that affect the future quality of life, economic prosperity and freedom in America. CFA offers a wide range of learning programs and knowledge resources about ways people can get involved to help solve America’s problems. For more information, please contact, Todd Young, Chief Operating Officer at 770-317-2423 or admin@CenterForAmerica.org.  Center for America, 250 Willow Springs Drive, Roswell, GA 30075    © 2014 Center for America. All rights reserved.