John Stossel

Critics of lawsuit abuse focus on the cost of litigation, but the bigger harm is that fear of lawsuits itself deprives us of good things.

  • Drug companies invented a vaccine against Lyme disease, but they won't sell it, because they're scared of lawyers.
  • Fearful medical device makers often stick to old technologies because trying something new, even if it's better, risks a suit.
  • Monsanto developed a substitute for asbestos, a fire-resistant insulation that might save thousands of lives, but decided not to sell it because the company feared it might be sued.

We don't even know how many wonderful life-enhancing products we might have today if innovators didn't live in a climate of fear.

I don't suggest that we should be at the mercy of rip-off artists. Some lawsuits are useful -- if businesses commit theft or fraud, they should be sued. But American law (SET ITAL) encourages (END ITAL) suits. In other countries, if you sue and lose, you and your lawyer must pay the court bills of the people you dragged into court.

When I started consumer reporting, I believed that only legal rules could protect us. But it's not true. The rules just give us a false sense of security.

The free market does a better job protecting consumers. Competition protects us.

Repeal most of the laws. Let the market work its magic.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate