Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Handmaiden To ALEC

ALEC Geisha girl Robin Vos
He makes a homely handmaiden don't you think?

So, about those "special session" jobs bills the Wisconsin Legislature is proposing while they pretend to be working with Democrats...

Geisha Vos inserted an unusual one. Not unusual for him, but unusual in the sense it doesn't have much to do with jobs. Called LRB 2670 it relates to the reasonableness of attorney fees.

On the surface that seems like a good thing right?

Well naturally it isn't - at least if you are a plaintiff or a plaintiff's attorney. So who does it protect? Corporate entities that can be sued and the money they might have to pay if they kill or injure someone - who else?

Vos' bill seeks to give the state the ability to restrict award fees attorneys receive - so they have less inducement to take part in lawsuits. Trial lawyers most often work on a contingency fee arrangement - if they don't win, you pay nothing, Since a regular Joe can't afford a retainer a trial contingency is about the only chance a person has.

Vos seeks to limit attorney fees to three times the award for compensatory damages. So say you are injured at your workplace and you work for a fairly large company who keeps a couple lawyers on retainer. You'll need to hire an attorney who is gonna work for months or maybe years while your case winds through the system. The defendant's attorneys delay, contest and appeal your case...all the while your attorney is working for a fee to be awarded - if and only if - he or she wins.

So not only do corporations get protected when they fuck up, insurance companies look to save big bucks and class-action lawsuits get a major crimp. Remember that when you sip your tap water, stand next to the microwave or the accelerator in the Camry gets stuck.  

After Vos' bill passes, you take your injury, discrimination or dead relative and go home. Not many - hell, any - lawyers are gonna be taking your case unless you have a trust fund you forgot about.

Can you guess who wrote the blueprint for this legislation? Come on now, you know the answer...ALEC! Of course.

Vos' bill draws from two pieces of ALEC model legislation: the Litigation Accountability Act and Legal Consumer's Bill of Rights. Vos, once again is working to buffer corporations and insurance companies from civil liability - the only defense the public has against injury and death in many cases.

In a time of employment crisis in his own backyard (with only 3 to 6% of tort cases that go to trial) this is the legislation he puts forward during a "special session" on jobs.

Vos is nothing more handmaiden for ALEC and a not very pretty one at that.