Letters To The Editor


October 31, 2003

Senate secures public's access to state courts

The Sun blasted Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski for stopping the "Class Action Fairness Act" from reaching the Senate floor ("No-class action," editorial, Oct. 26). The criticism was unwarranted. Ms. Mikulski stood up for the right of Marylanders to use their own state courts.

The legislation would move nearly every state court class-action lawsuit against an out-of-state corporation into federal court - even if every member of the class is from Maryland and the claim is brought under Maryland state law and the corporation caused substantial personal injury or massive property damage in Maryland.

Pushing class actions into federal courts would make cases take longer and cost more to resolve. Victims of discrimination, ripped-off consumers and victims of toxic pollution often would be denied justice altogether.

That's why 80 organizations, including the NAACP, AARP, AFL-CIO, Consumers Union and Sierra Club, opposed the bill, as did Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.

Ms. Mikulski, along with Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, was right in not letting the bill go forward without a commitment from Republicans that the final bill would make the system more fair for ordinary Americans instead of making it easier for corporate wrongdoers to escape accountability.

Nan Aron


The writer is president of the Alliance for Justice.

The editorial "No-class action" unfairly criticized Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's vote against bringing the class-action bill to the Senate floor.

The Democrats were not trying to defeat class-action reform but to use their leverage to force a fair compromise. Sen. John B. Breaux has in fact proposed an alternative bill that would eliminate abuses in the system but would not give corporations undue advantages, as would the bill Democrats blocked last week.

Ms. Mikulski deserves credit for a vote that protects consumers and workers.

Frank Clemente


The writer is director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch.

Limit lawsuits of every sort

I agree wholeheartedly with The Sun's editorial "No-class action" (Oct. 26). Lawsuits are out of control. People are suing people because someone looked at them wrong, their dog barked, etc. And the lawyers are making the money, not the people suing.

The class-action lawsuits are the worst. When these lawsuits are successful, the bills for consumers go up - if the company being sued survives. Or the company must close down and hundreds (maybe thousands) of people are laid off.

Who wins from these lawsuits? The lawyers.

I really believe we should put limits on all lawsuits. That would cause insurance rates to go down and we then would not have so many doctors leaving their profession because of high malpractice insurance rates.

Kathy Riley


Special needs call for flexible treatment

As the parent of a 20-year-old son with autism and cerebral palsy, I very much object to characterizing the "segregating" of adults or children with special needs as "a civil rights violation on par with sending black children to separate schools" ("In Md., anguish for parents of retarded adults," Oct. 27).

Children with special needs have medical diagnoses. To compare their schooling with the civil rights situation of black children during segregation is a fallacy.

There are several highly vocal groups in Maryland that are pushing for "full inclusion" of all children with special needs in neighborhood schools.

But I believe that one size does not fit all and that each individual's needs for education in the least restrictive environment must be met, whether in a community school or a separate program.

Pat Mochel


Easy to be `resolute' so far from the war

It is easy for President Bush to be "resolute" in the face of escalating violence in Iraq because he is thousands of miles away, protected by the best security in the world ("Bush resolute as violence rises in Iraq," Oct. 29).

His justifications for the Iraq invasion have proved to be lies, so he falls back on the story that Saddam Hussein wanted weapons of mass destruction. But this is not the sort of "imminent threat" he trumpeted in the months leading up to the invasion.

Mr. Bush's inability to admit that he lied is now leading the United States into the endless quagmire of a guerrilla war.

And Mr. Bush's tough talk of "Bring them on" and now "We're not leaving" will just serve to incite the Iraqi terrorists. Their anger will be taken out on our troops, not the Bush adminstration's tough-talking armchair soldiers.

Roger Fitzgerald


History makes Iraq wary of occupation

The Bush administration continues to ignore Middle Eastern history. Its attempts to recruit Turkish troops into "postwar" Iraq ignores Iraqi mistrust, perhaps hatred, of Turkey that dates back to the days when they were oppressed by their occupier, the Ottoman Empire.

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