Column: We've got enough lawyers in Congress

"Ninety percent of the politicians give the other 10 percent a bad reputation."

Henry Kissinger

How do you citizens feel about your car insurance premiums? Dumb question. Nevada has one of the highest rates in the nation.

But I don't think it's because we have more accidents per mile driven. I think it has to do with the number of personal injury (tort) lawsuits filed in Nevada with expensive nuisance settlements paid by our insurance companies.

Las Vegas is the new "scam" capital of the world, especially when it comes to phony lawsuits.

I know a guy in Las Vegas who recently received a quarter of a million dollar settlement from an insurance company for a back injury supposedly sustained in a car accident.

This is the sixth insurance settlement he's had in the past 10 years, five of them for minor car accidents. Did he really have a back injury? Yes, but not from the car accident. His back injury came three years previously when he slipped and fell down while showing a new car to a prospective buyer.

And for that injury, he'd already received a hefty cash settlement from our State Industrial Insurance System. By the way, his lawyer got 33 percent of the quarter million.

How about the lady who burned herself with hot coffee from McDonald's? A jury awarded her $2 million dollars on the premise that Mac's coffee was too hot. Don't you think this is a bit excessive? Some of you might feel it's OK because a little old lady managed to screw a big, bad insurance company but you're losing sight of the fact that every time there's a phony award of this kind, or an exaggerated award, our insurance premiums go up.

They have to. Insurance companies aren't going to allow themselves to go broke. We citizens who must have insurance pay for every one of those settlements through continually increased premiums.

Now, who's primarily responsible for this proliferation of phony or exaggerated settlements? The "trial lawyers," that's who. I'm not talking about the majority of lawyers, the ones who run general law practices. I'm talking about a legal breed who specialize in so-called personal injuries and who operate on a percentage of whatever settlements are made to their clients. Some of these predators carry police scanners in their cars so they can arrive at accident scenes and hopefully sign up clients before they get to the hospital. They don't just represent injured clients, they promote lawsuits without any concern about who is responsible.

Now, who is the number one "trial lawyer" In Nevada? Edward M. Bernstein, that's who. He's the lawyer who's running against John Ensign for the U.S. Senate.

Bernstein and all his "tort" lawyer colleagues belong to the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association. In their latest NTLA Advocate (publication) they ask, "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a trial lawyer as your United States senator?" They're frothing at the mouth! It continues, "Our money is important to Ed Bernstein's success."

The article then goes on to say that the "trial lawyers" have "real friends in Senators Harry Reid and Dick Bryan, as evidenced by the fact that the United States Congress did not pass any tort reform legislation during the last session."

It also says that John Ensign, who is also running for the U.S. Senate against Bernstein, is dangerous because Ensign supports tort reform. This is enough by itself to cast my vote for John Ensign.

For years I've heard hundreds of you good citizens tell me that you don't trust lawyers and yet you turn around and vote for more and more lawyers. Why? Is it because you won't take the time to find out which candidates are and are not lawyers?

It's not that lawyers are bad, certainly not the majority, but too many of one kind - no matter what they are - is dangerous, and over 75 percent of all members of Congress are already lawyers. Isn't that enough?

We'll never get fair reforms in this country which will reduce insurance premiums unless we elect non-lawyers to mandate it. Why are we the most litigious society in the world? Because you keep electing lawyers who protect their own. In personal injury claims, they have a license to steal.

Here's your golden opportunity to elect a truly outstanding man to the U.S. Senate who has impeccable credentials. John Ensign is a doctor of veterinary medicine, is a fine family man, loves animals, was educated here in Carson City during his earlier years, and was a Congressman in Washington, D.C.

John knows the system. John knows Nevada. John is Nevada. Vote John Ensign for the U.S. Senate and let Mr. Bernstein continue chasing his ambulances.

Bob Thomas is a Carson City businessman, local curmudgeon and former member of the Carson City School Board and Nevada State Assembly.

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