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Big-ticket litigation is a way of life in this country. But something new is afoot--something typified by the $246 billion tobacco settlement, and by courtroom assaults that have followed against industries ranging from HMOs to gunmakers, from lead paint manufacturers to "factory farms." Each massive class-action suit seeks to invent new law, to ban or tax or regulate something that elected lawmakers had chosen to leave alone. And each time the new process works as intended, the new litigation elite reaps ...
Big-ticket litigation is a way of life in this country. But something new is afoot--something typified by the $246 billion tobacco settlement, and by courtroom assaults that have followed against industries ranging from HMOs to gunmakers, from lead paint manufacturers to "factory farms." Each massive class-action suit seeks to invent new law, to ban or tax or regulate something that elected lawmakers had chosen to leave alone. And each time the new process works as intended, the new litigation elite reaps billions in fees--which they invest in fresh rounds of suits, as well as political contributions.
The Rule of Lawyers asks: Who picks these lawyers, and who can fire them? Who protects the public's interest when settlements are negotiated behind closed doors? Where are our elected lawmakers in all this? The answers may determine whether we slip from the rule of law to the rule of lawyers.
- Robert Lenzner, Forbes.com
"Walter Olson lays out an entertaining, but disturbing chronicle of class-action abuses."
- David A. Price, The Wall Street Journal
"With a marvelous combination of irony, insight and outrage, Olson covers the whole range of opportunistic litigation over tobacco, asbestos, breast-implants, autos and guns....Olson even proposes sensible ways of reforming the jury system that might actually make a difference."
- Gene Epstein, Barron's
"Even lawyers, however, will find [The Rule of Lawyers] a tasty snack."
- Peter Schuck, The New York Law Journal
|Introduction: Better Living Through Litigation||1|
|1||The Joy of Tobacco Fees||25|
|3||Gunning for Democracy||99|
|4||Stacked: The Breast-Implant Affair||129|
|5||Trial Lawyer TV||153|
|7||The Jackpot Belt||209|
|8||The Art of the Runaway Jury||237|
|9||The Lawsuit Lobby||263|
|10||Litigators on Horseback||293|
|For Further Reading||339|
Posted September 28, 2007
Joy Horowitz doesn't tell it like it is. No one ever proved that the oil wells on the Beverly Hills High School campus ever caused any illness. There is no credible scientific proof. Just hysterical allegations. Since I had experience in closing down many oil wells in Torrance, I was hired by the City of Beverly Hills in 1973 to get rid of the oil wells on the Beverly Hills campus. At that time they were scattered on the campus. Oil was selling at about $2.00 a barrel and the oil well field was just about exhausted. Only a major investment in injection technology which would have forced the oil out of the sands would have made the wells productive. The owner did not have the money. The Beverly Hills School Board also wanted to get rid of the wells but did not know how to do it. I began preparing a strategy for closing down the unproductive wells and the necessary ordinances. But at the time, the owners, the Beverly Hills Oil Company, were just looking for a way to get out, hoping that they would be bought out. However, at that time the nation suffered from an oil embargo and the price of oil shot sky high and the value of the oil leases sky rocketed. The oil embargo was eventually lifted and oil prices came down but still were significantly higher thus the oil company 's revenues from even its limited production of oil were sufficient to not only cover the costs of production but to make a tidy profit. But if the company could expand its drilling and recover the oil remaining in the oil field there were much better profits. Nothing really happened though until Proposition 13 passed which significantly reduced the amount of revenue available to the School District. The oil company then came up with a proposal that appeared to be win-win for both the oil company, the School District, and many property owners in Beverly Hills who had leased the oil rights to the oil company. The oil company proposed to consolidate all of its wells into one drill site which would eliminate the wells scattered around the high school and they would pay substantially higher royalties to the School District and the property owners. There was however, a fly in the ointment. It had to be approved by the City. The City Council wanted the oil wells to go away but there was considerable political pressure on the Council to at least consider the proposal. Adding to the problem was that the School District has no one with any experience with oil drilling so the task fell to the City and primarily on me. I am an opponent of oil drilling having been involved in opposing oil drilling on the coast in the Pacific Palisades and also trying to get the Occidental Oil drilling site on Pico in West Los Angeles shut down. Consequently, the City required an extensive Environmental Impact Report which was prepared entirely by independent consultants hired by the City but principally recommended by me. Every possible hazard including health hazards were explored and if there was even the slightest hint of a hazard, strict conditions were imposed, many of them expensive. For example, the oil company had always transported the oil from the site by truck, but the City required that the oil be transported by pipeline. There were nearby oil pipelines from other sites in Century City to connect to. The City also wanted the drill site extensively camouflaged so that it did not look like an oil well. However, the City had imposed so many conditions on the site, that the costs of better camouflaging the site would have left almost no profit for anyone to divvy up so that condition was dropped and the existing tower was constructed. At that time oil was selling at around $18 a barrel. I am satisfied that the conditions imposed upon the drilling were so stringent, particularly on air pollution, that there was no hazard whatsoever to the students and faculty of the high school and knowing how tough the City enforces conditions, that there was no risk of any healthWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.