update (April 29, 2008): See our posting “obama’s tort reform creds.”
On August 4, 2004, the editor of this weblog sent the following email to the Barack Obama Campaign information center:
re: Tort Reform Inquiry
Hello, Obama Campaign!
I’ve praised Mr. Obama at my weblog — obama, o mama! (July 27, 2004) — and am pleased that my alma mater, Harvard Law School, has produced a uniter. [update: In postings such as this one, I have now publicly noted my support for Sen. Obama for President.]
Yesterday, Evan Schaeffer, editor of the weblog Notes from the (Legal) Underground wrote about “tort reform” laws passed by two Illinois cities. Today, Ted Frank of Overlawyered.com left a Comment at (Legal) Underground in which he quotes Barack Obama as saying “Anyone who denies there’s a crisis with medical malpractice insurance is probably a trial lawyer.” His source is a news Bulletin of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, dated May 10, 2004, which also says “Obama acknowledged a need for tort reform.”
Mr. Schaeffer is a trial lawyer and opponent of tort reform. Mr. Frank is a strong supporter of tort reform. I am not a tort reformer (and do not advocate limiting the size of personal injury awards), but have written extensively on the topic of the standard contingency fee, which I believe consistently extracts excessive fees from clients (see, e.g., my ethicalEsq posting Some UnCommonly Good Advice on Contingency Fees; and the four-part essay on the ethics and economics of contingency fees):
Because I respect Mr. Obama’s intelligence and integrity, I would very much like to know his position on tort reform and his reasoning. Can you clarify?
update (Sept. 4, 2004): August Vacation? After a whole month, there’s still no reply from the Obama campaign on his tort reform position. However, Jeff Berkowitz interviewed Obama’s former opponent, Jack Ryan, in May and has the transcript comparing their tort reform positions here.
afterwords: As we pointed out here, and elsewhere, the Obama Campaign has never responded to our request, and we have not found any other explanation from his campaign. Disappointing.