Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

11/27/2004

A: When Their Lips Are Moving

Gratuitous lawyer jokes aside, it goes without saying that trial lawyers have become the #1 patron of the Democratic Party. Or is that the other way around?

A quick peek at Senator Dayton's anemic fundraising since taking office 4 years ago shows that lawyers comprise -- by far -- the single greatest source of revenue for Minnesota's senior senator. Among Dayton's chief contributors are a veritable who's who of Twin Cities law firms: Briggs & Morgan, Schwebel, Goetz et al, Robins, Kaplan et al, Maslon, Edelman et al, Sieben, Polk et al, Lockridge, Grindal et al, Dorsey & Whitney, Faegre & Benson (et tu, Hinderaker?), etc. In short, names with whom any Minnesotan who has ever been in a fender bender are well acquainted. Moreover, on the votes that the American Bar Association considered to be most important, Senator Dayton voted in lockstep 100 percent of the time.

Certainly the legal industry has as much right as any other to defend its interests. But it must also be noted that the cost of the U.S. tort system has increased one-hundred fold over the last 50 years while GDP has grown by a factor of only 34. Medical malpractice lawsuits are just a part of the cost of excessive lawsuits. Often the mere possibility of a lawsuit being filed causes a potential defendant to settle.

As noted by The National Center for Public Policy Research, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon, says 12 states are in health care "crisis" because of malpractice lawsuit abuse while 30 others are in "near-crisis." An estimated $50 billion annually is wasted on unnecessary tests to safeguard doctors and hospitals against lawsuits. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates unreasonable jury awards cost an estimated $70-126 billion extra in health care costs every year.

In the soon to be adjourned 108th Congress, Dayton voted against all 3 medical liability reform bills: S 2207, S 2061 and S 11.

Money well spent.


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