Legal Briefs #13: July 17, 1998

Contents:* Lawyers Oppose Lowering Insurance Premiums
* Hindu Man Has Beef With Taco Bell – Sues
* Slipped-up Trombone Player Sings A Quarter-Million-Dollar Tune
* Tort D’Jour: Lawsuits Upon Lawsuits Within Lawsuits 

Lawyers Oppose Lowering Insurance PremiumsMost Americans may assume that when they pay their auto insurance premiums, most of the premium goes for the health care costs and lost wages of individuals injured in car crashes.

Wrong. A new report by Michael Horowitz for the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) shows 28.4 percent of insurance premiums for bodily injury go to lawyers’ fees and only 14.5 percent to medical bills and lost wages.

As a result, some policymakers, including Democrats Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Joe Lieberman and Republicans Mitch McConnell, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Dick Armey, are promoting a reform plan called Auto Choice. Auto Choice would make it legal for consumers to buy cheaper insurance policies which cover their actual losses in the event of an accident, but which do not permit consumers opting to pay lower premiums the option of suing for pain and suffering. But, NCPA says, “opposition [to reform] comes from the American Trial Lawyers Association, which describes Auto Choice as ‘perhaps one of the more insidious tort reform proposals ever introduced at the Federal level… an assault on our livelihood.'”

The report, NCPA Brief Analysis #274, is available at or from NCPA at 972/386-6272.


Hindu Man Has Beef With Taco Bell – SuesAccording to the Los Angeles Times, a devout Hindu is suing a Ventura, California Taco Bell for serving him the wrong burrito. Mulkesh K. Rai claims that after ordering a bean burrito he was given a beef burrito instead, and by biting into it violated his most fundamental religious principle.

Rai says that this incident caused him emotional distress, loss of wages, medical expenses and the need to travel to England and India to perform religious purification ceremonies, including bathing in the Ganges River. “Eating the cow, it was a really devastating experience,” said Rai, “so much so that I had to go to a psychiatrist. I went to a doctor. I couldn’t sleep.”

Taco Bell offered to exchange the beef burrito for a bean one, but would not refund Rai’s money. There was no word on whether Rai plans to look at his food before he eats it in the future.


Slipped-up Trombone Player Sings A Quarter-Million-Dollar TuneAccording to the Charleston Gazette, a former West Virginia high school trombone player is suing the Kanawha County school board and County Commission over a fall he took during a week-long band camp in 1995.

Evan F. Candee, 16 at the time of the accident, blames bad marching orders and a muddy field for a tumble he took after the band leader ordered his group to march backward.

Candee claims that he suffered spinal injuries that resulted in $20,000 in medical treatment. He is seeking $250,000 in damages, over 12 times the cost of his medical treatment.



Tort D’Jour

Tort D’Jour: Lawsuits Upon Lawsuits Within Lawsuits

A group of Texas lawyers have apparently filed pre-emptive lawsuits against ex-clients, anticipating malpractice lawsuits filed against them over another lawsuit. Confused?

According to the Dallas Morning News, one hundred former clients of Roberto M. Garcia, Craig L. White, John Phillip Watking and Patrick J. Boon have filed a malpractice suit against them accusing malpractice, fraud and negligence in their representation of them in another lawsuit against the Dallas-based Fina Oil and Chemical Company. But this recent malpractice suit only comes after the lawyers filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against 38 of the former clients asking the court to declare that nothing improper happened during the original lawsuit. Got it?

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.