Yesterday, I was awe-struck by the entrepreneurial imagination of Reserve, Louisiana plaintiff lawyer Daniel E. Becnel.
According to Peter Lattman who runs the law blog at THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Becnel contacted Seattle law firm Marler Clark who is the prime mover in the E-coli Spinach lawsuits. Hey, Becnel sort of said to the folks at Marler Clark, why restrict suits to just those made physically ill or who died as a result of the E-coli in the spinach. What about the restaurants which can't sell spinach salads and the agriculture industry which is also affected. Since one of my Silicon Valley clients is witnessing the abrupt layoffs of the spinach farm workers and wept about it, I was very enthusiastic about Becnel's idea.
Was. But the tort reformer in me woke up this morning. I had a question about what I would call the pyramiding of plaintiffs. How far could this pyramid be build and how shaky would it make the American legal system? Can I sue because I am denied my spinach salad? As a result of not being able to select a spinach salad from the menu at Spago I am more likely to consume something that could be causal in bringing on Type-2 diabetes.
Okay, let's get less ridiculous. The light cigarette mass tort could attract millions of former or current smokers of light cigarettes. But, there could also be a pyramiding of plaintiffs. Suppose I contend that I have suffered injury because my loved one and source of my financial support smoked light cigarettes, believing this was the safer course of action, and died of lung cancer?
Maybe Becnel is too clever by half.