Mona Charen

 But this is more than a practical problem. It's a moral issue, as well. One of Edwards' specialties, on which he made millions, was suing obstetricians on behalf of babies with cerebral palsy. He mastered the emotional appeal to the jury. A signature line would refer to a brain-damaged child by name and then proceed with "Jennifer cannot speak for herself. She can only speak through me. She doesn't ask for your pity. She asks for your strength. She doesn't ask for your sympathy, but for your courage."

 These "courageous" jurors would then come in with verdicts of millions against the doctor who delivered the baby and the hospital in which the birth took place. Edwards would pocket a third of the recovery.

 There's only one problem: the claim that a Caesarean section would have prevented the cerebral palsy -- the lynchpin of the plaintiffs' cases -- is dubious. As Dr. Murray Goldstein told CNS, "The overwhelming majority of children that are born with developmental brain damage, the ob/gyn could not have done anything about it. ..." Dr. John Freeman, professor of neurology and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, explained, "A great many of these cases are due to subtle infections of the child before birth."

 Besides, most children born with cerebral palsy never receive a penny through the tort system. Lawyers like Edwards take only the cases that seem winnable. And while Edwards calls his ambulance-chasing "helping the little guy," he was careful to help those whose plight he could exploit for his own benefit, as well.

 Sympathizers call it charisma. But a more realistic assessment is that Edwards is a smooth-talking salesman hawking a phony product.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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