Senator McCain, Maybe There Should Be Lawsuits

This is my contention with the Right’s war on law suits; occasionally, they’re necessary.

That’s exactly why I opposed tort reform, and why I cringe every time one of these guys gets up on a stage and starts blustering against, “Frivolous lawsuits.”  The fact of the matter is, lawsuits are a vital tool for the average American to find himself or herself on an even playing field against corporate interests.

Indeed, we see how easily the scales of justice can tip against the favor of people without the power to sue on their side.  I recall the terrible fates of Jamie Leigh Jones, and Tracy Barker, women who are still struggling to find justice against the people who sexually assaulted them.

No doubt, there are such things as frivolous lawsuits; the now infamous McDonald’s coffee suit comes to mind, as does the notorious “pants judge.”  But this is no reason to rob millions of Americans the right to have their day in court, to hold people accountable for criminality when it is practiced against them.

Still, this is exactly the justification that John McCain used when he explained why he wouldn’t support an equal pay law that would make it easier for women to sue companies based upon pay discrimination.  McCain skipped the vote, instead opting to campaign in the rust belt where he was trying to sell free trade to a group of people that aren’t likely to buy.

But his party had his back, killing the bill with only 42 votes.

For women, especially those women who are talking about not supporting Obama if he wins the nomination, I present to you your alternative; a man who is pretty glib about protecting your rights.  Meanwhile BOTH Democratic candidates flew back to Washington to vote their support for the bill.

And why shouldn’t women be allowed to sue their employers for pay discrimination?  How are companies that use sexist standards to govern who gets paid ever going to learn?  What, are we supposed to ask them nicely to please pay women what they deserve?

Fat lot of good that will do if they never suffer the consequences for it.

If they are descriminating against women, and paying them less than they are worth, then they should get their asses handed to them in court, it’s that simple. 

3 Responses to “Senator McCain, Maybe There Should Be Lawsuits”

  1. DrGail says:

    Even more astounding than his contention that giving women the right to sue for pay discrimination will lead to lawsuits is his insistence that pay parity can best be achieved if women would take steps to educate themselves and get work-related training. Especially, y’know, given how many of them little women are single parents an’ all, and really should get some extry larnin’ so they can support them itty-bitty babies.

    Oooh, do I sound bitter?

  2. Knemon says:

    “the now infamous McDonald’s coffee suit comes to mind”

    Not as frivolous as commonly believed, according to my torts prof. – a combination of shoddy lid design and coffee kept way too hot with no appreciable consumer benefit = way more of a claim than the “pants judge” had.

  3. Sarah M Thompson says:

    I must comment immediately even before finishing your excellent piece and the comments. The McDonald’s lawsuit was NOT frivolous, and the fact that you believe it is only speaks to the power and cleverness of the insurance industry’s propaganda. Of course the industry has been helped immensly over the last 20 years or so by the GOP and its corporatist philosophy.
    Herewith but a few facts about the McDonald’s case: The plaintiff was a very old woman who was a passenger in a car when the top popped off of (exploded?) her coffee, and the coffee spilled all over her lap and legs. The coffee was very very hot and she ended up being badly burned and hospitalized for a few days. Originally, she just wanted McDonald’s to pay her medical bills. It refused.

    She reiterated the offer after the judge tried to work out a settlement. No soap! The executives from McDonald’s who testified were so arrogant and uncaring that it was apparent from the multimillion dollar verdict that the jury intended to punish them and the corporation. After the verdict, the judge reduced the amount upon the defendants’ request, and the plaintiff took even less in settlement so that McDonald’s would agree to drop the appeal. Incidentally, the coffee at McDonalds is now much less hot when served.

    Please, in the future when you hear this “tort reform” propaganda, check with the plaintiffs’ bar (google Trial Lawyers) to get the facts. And yes, it is the old story: while plaintiffs’ lawyers make a good living, we have FAR less money and organization than the insurance industry.


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