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What we really need is reform of tort laws

Does anyone have any doubts that our society has painted itself into a corner with our tort laws and the incentives they have created for people to try to sue to gain satisfaction? We have absolutely handicapped ourselves and made life far more difficult than it has to be.

The Fairmont City Council this week delved into the topic of firefighters electing their officers and whether this creates a potential liability for the city, should a firefighter believe they were wronged during the election process. This is not something that has occurred, but the League of Minnesota Cities, which offers recommendations on best practices to avoid lawsuits, is suggesting it could. However unlikely it seems.

Councilman Tom Hawkins — who has not acted in the most legally adept way in the past year, by opening the door to potential lawsuits from city employees — seems particularly concerned about the firefighter issue. As if it were pressing. His worry stirred the discussion this week, with the council agreeing in the end to have the city administrator, the city attorney and the fire chief work on ways to limit liability. OK.

But what if our lawmakers at the state and national levels could just take up the mantle and start working on tort reform, limiting who can sue for what and how much they can get in compensation? What if they made it difficult for plaintiffs to charge into court every time they are offended by some perceived “injustice”? If lawmakers could successfully transform the law, then countless local governments, businesses and individuals across the country could stop wasting time worrying about getting sued. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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