Too many lawsuits

December 04, 1990|By Providence (R.I.) Journal-Bulletin

A RECENT issue of the Economist, the British news weekly, said of the ever-growing demand for legal services in the United States: "Much of the 'demand' for the output of this swollen industry is created not by clients but by other members of the [lawsuit] industry, as if doctors went around injecting diseases for other doctors to cure. Is this really a boost to living standards?"

That's a good question, to which we suspect the answer might be no.

So it's a good sign for our economy that at least some big American companies are trying to do something about this disease. The same magazine enthusiastically reports that earlier this month the chief executives of 17 of the country's biggest companies sent out a group letter urging their fellow executives "to negotiate and settle (disputes) early before litigation takes on a life of its own." . . .

The endless use of lawsuits, threatened and actual, to resolve disputes in our society has diverted time and money from what are usually more productive ends. Let us hope that in taking a pledge to try to avoid litigation, big business provides some useful suggestions to individuals of the numerous ways in which arguments can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction without lawsuits.

An America with less litigation would probably be a richer and happier country.

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