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3 Weird Things About the U.S. This Pro-American Canadian Doesn’t Get

America: You know I love you, right? But we have to talk...

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

August 27, 2012 - 7:00 am
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#2 — Lawsuit-mania

Undertaking tort reform instead of “Obamacare” would go a long way towards fixing America’s health care system, not to mention the overarching, culture-killing paranoia that leaves everyone in the U.S. afraid of being sued for almost anything — and others hoping to win a lawsuit “lottery.” Not exactly a recipe for social cooperation and harmony.

The culprit is the “American Rule,” whereby “each side in a civil legal case pays its own court costs regardless of outcome. This was different from the English [and therefore, Canadian] system,” which is “loser pays.”

As outlined by John Steele Gordon:

The Treaty of Paris (which ended the American Revolution) stipulated that British creditors could sue in American courts in order to collect debts owed them by people who were now American citizens. To make it less likely that they would do so, state legislatures passed the American Rule. With the British merchant stuck paying his own court costs, he had little incentive to go to court unless the debt was considerable.

Predictably, the American Rule has spread exactly nowhere since its inception. (…) There is not another country in the common-law world that uses it.

The American Rule was a relatively minor anomaly in our legal system until the mid-20th century. But since then, as lawyers’ ethics changed (…) For every malpractice case filed in 1960, for instance, 300 are filed today. (…)

Few things would help the American economy more than ending the American Rule. Texas reformed its tort law system a few years ago and the results have been dramatic. Doctors have been moving into the state, not out of it, and malpractice insurance costs have fallen 25 percent.

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