Sometimes it’s real hard for some folks to understand how important the courts are until they become victims of abuse or wrongdoing themselves. It’s been said that “an issue doesn’t hit home until one’s home is hit.” That certainly appears to be the case for U.S. Senator Trent Lott, who was recently elected Republican Senate Whip, and whose Mississippi beachfront home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina last year. Since that time, the powerful Senator has been fighting with his insurance company, over his loss. As you know by now, State Farm refused to pay for damage to Senator Lott’s house. This powerful political figure now finds himself in the very same boat with other Katrina victims. He has had to file suit against his insurance company.
The fact that devastated Katrina victims have been forced to go to court against their insurance carriers may be surprising enough for many Americans. But the fact that their ranks have been joined by an ultra-conservative U.S. Senator, who had been an outspoken critic of those who file lawsuits, has to be somewhat mind-boggling. Senator Lott has been a real tort-reformer and an outspoken critic of the jury system. Here is what the Senator once had to say about those who go to court to resolve disputes:
The Democrats seem to think that the answer is a lawsuit. Sue everybody…, It’s sue, sue, sue … That’s not the answer,” and “I’m among many Mississippi citizens who believe tort reform is needed.
It’s pretty clear that Senator Lott is singing a different tune now. He appears to have finally seen the light and is experiencing what ordinary citizens have had to put up with from the insurance industry over the past decade. Hopefully, the powerful Senator will now help consumers get some needed relief in the U.S. Senate. Senator Lott’s situation should be a reminder to all of us that insurance companies who abuse their policyholders and refuse to pay valid claims must be held accountable for their actions. I firmly believe that open access to the courts is the best means to accomplish that end. Each time when the tort reformers are able to get closer to shutting the courthouse door to ordinary citizens, Corporate America rises up in unison to cheer. Every lawsuit to them is a frivolous one. Their goal is to eliminate the jury system. I wonder if the leaders of the movement consider Senator Lott’s lawsuit to be frivolous. My guess is that they really wish State Farm had seen fit to pay the Lott claim. In any event, it’s good to see Senator Lott joining the choir!
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