Jewish World Review July 9, 2004 / 20 Tamuz 5764
Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak
The Runaway Trial Lawyer
In 'The Runaway Jury," a best selling Doubleday book in 1996 and hit movie
in 2003, lawyer novelist John Grisham, allows us inside the dark shoddy
corner of the courthouse back room.
They say that California leads the way for our other states.
Unfortunately, much of it is bad particularly when it comes to the legal
mob. So, if it hasn't hit your state yet - highly unlikely - be on the
lookout for trial lawyer legislators who represent only themselves.
In "The Orange County," we have a trial attorney turned State Senator that
makes Grisham's characters - like Gene Hackman - look like amateurs. Enter
Joe Dunn as a pristine caricature of himself regally adorned in a rich blue
suit and tie with the perfect up-top dimple.
Dunn, (D-Santa Ana), 34th Senate District, made big millions as a personal
injury malpractice attorney. Then having more money than a human could ever
desire parlayed the bucks into a run for the California legislature and
He allegedly represents the people of Anaheim, Buena Park, Fullerton,
Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Stanton and Westminster up north in Sacramento.
While in Sacramento, his salary and expenses paid for by those in Orange
County, Dunn has been unrelenting in his pursuit to lobby for more bills
that create more lawsuits and money for his trial lawyer brethren.
As we noted last week the undivided history of the trial lawyers in
California has been to create more bills and laws that allow more clients
and entities to sue more people and entities for more reasons for more
money and greater damages and for longer periods of time.
"The Orange County Business Council maintains a cordial but cautious
relationship with Senator Dunn," said Julie Puentes, Executive Vice
President Public Affairs. "He tells you he favors business and then goes to
Sacramento and introduces trial lawyer bills that destroy business.
Business has good reason to worry about legislation authored by Senator
Dunn, and we know we cannot count on his vote if the trial lawyers are on
the other side of the issue."
Here are just a few of the "Trial Lawyers Employment and Enrichment" bills
- SB 796 (Dunn) Employment:
Private Attorneys General Act of 2004. Allows private rights of action by
employees to recover penalties for violations of the Labor Code that have
not been collected by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency.
Known as "Sue Your Boss" this is a bill that allows an employee to sue
their boss for technical labor violations where no harm ever occurred. A
mistakenly out of date elevator permit could cost an employer $16 million
dollars in damages.
- SB 211 (Dunn) Residential care facilities for the elderly:
This bill attempted to prohibit an agreement to arbitrate future disputes
from being included in any agreement for admission to a residential care
facility for the elderly. Dunn wanted to prohibit arbitration - or
non-judicial resolution - for problems related to senior housing - forcing
issues into expensive court proceedings where only trial lawyers would
- SB 1569 (Dunn) Provider remedies:
Senator Dunn also authored legislation allowing doctors to sue HMO's for
unpaid medical claims. While we are all for physicians and everyone else
being paid fairly for their work - this would create an avalanche of
In real life these court actions only trigger retaliatory filings by HMO's
thereby adding more costs for less care for the patient. All-the-while
creating hundreds of millions for the trial lawyers - and perchance a
certificate for a black bag for the physicians - likely vinyl not leather!
Let's explain how the system really works in Sacramento and many state
legislatures. Why would Dunn care now that he is no longer a practicing
trial attorney? Because in California as in the rest of the nation there
are no limits or restrictions on going back and forth between lawyer,
legislator or judge. This leaves bountiful room for hanky-panky and back
In England, laws do not allow for these back and forth incestuous
relationships. Once you are a Solicitor, advance to Barrister status and
then cross over to Judge you cannot go back.
A friend and colleague of these writers, Theodore Dalryimple, English
author and commentary writer - considered by many editors to be the world's
best medical writer - told us at a recent national meeting, "It is this
'pot of gold' at the end of the rainbow mentality that makes the American
legal and malpractice system corrupt in my opinion."
State legislators are presumably elected to benefit the people of their
state. Yet, California State Senator Joe Dunn continues to promote
legislation that mainly benefits personal injury attorneys who contribute
big bucks for colossal returns on their investments.
Let this be one of the first bursts across the bow that tells the people
Joe Dunn's true nature and also informs this non-average Joe we don't want
any more self serving trial lawyers as our representatives. When you elect
scorpions you eventually get stung.
It is a time to be done of Dunn and others like him. Eight years of special
primping, preening and grooming for the trial lawyers is enough!
Cautions Maryann Maloney, Executive Director of Orange County Citizens
Against law Suit Abuse(OC CALA), "Everything Dunn does is oriented to get
himself elected Attorney General in 2006!"
To Dunn and those like him we should all say, "You're fired!" This 4th of
July week let's declare our freedom and independence from these "runaway
And as you've probably heard the Democrats announced that trial
lawyer turned U.S. Senator, John Edwards, is their VP candidate. So it's
crucial to resist this "East Trial Lawyer Fever" before it infects us all!
Editor's Note: Michael Arnold Glueck
wrote this week's column.
Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments
on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Discovery Institute
Senior Fellow and a past president of the Association of American Physicians
and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists.
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