I was shocked to hear that Robert Bork, the one-time U.S. Supreme Court nominee, had filed a civil lawsuit against the Yale Club. Judge Bork is seeking $1 million in damages for injuries he sustained from a fall at Yale last year. He was at the Yale Club last June to speak at an event sponsored by The New Criterion, a monthly review of the arts and intellectual life. According to the suit, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan, the club failed to provide steps and a handrail to climb onto the dais. It is alleged that Judge Bork fell backward as he was attempting to climb the dais, striking his leg on the stage and his head on a heat register. The 80-year-old Bork suffered a large hematoma, or swelling of blood, in his lower left leg as a result of the fall, and the hematoma eventually burst, according to the lawsuit. The injury required surgery and months of physical therapy, according to his complaint. The suit claims the judge has suffered “excruciating pain” as a result of the injury. He even wants damages because of having to walk with a limp.
Interestingly, in addition to seeking a million dollars in compensatory damages, the tort reform advocate actually wants punitive damages. As it turns out, Judge Bork, who once taught at Yale Law School, seems to like the judicial system when he is a victim. The former U.S. Attorney General and federal court of appeals judge is currently a fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, which has been a bell-cow in the tort reform movement. It appears sort of hypocritical for a person to criticize the judicial system and those who, as victims, file lawsuits with merit, and then to jump into the system himself as a plaintiff in a lawsuit. As the New York Times stated in an article:
Since we believe in the tort system, when properly used, all we would ask is whether Mr. Bork’s unfortunate experience at the Yale Club has led him to re-evaluate any of the harsh things he has said in the past about injured people, much like himself, who simply wanted their day in court.
I fear that many of the tort reformers are actually just like Judge Bork – they don’t want the judicial system to be available to ordinary folks who are victims of wrongdoing, but they will jump in and use it themselves when they need it for their own benefit. That just doesn’t seem right to me!
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