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Paul N. Ford
Paul N. Ford
Contributor •

US Airways Flight 1549:Tort Reform and the Media Bias

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We can all vividly recall the news of the "Miracle on the Hudson" when the US Airways miraculously landed in the Hudson River just minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. The story saturated the media over the next couple of days.

One interesting story I saw was on the O’Reilly Factor. Bill O’Reilly stated that he was going to be looking for any sleazy lawyer that would file a suit over this plane crash and indicated he would publicly lampoon him/her if such a suit were filed. He was on the tort reform bandwagon bashing lawyers. He simply assumed any suit would be filed by a "greedy trial lawyer" and such a suit would be frivolous. As I watched, I was enraged. I thought I should write him a nasty e-mail and defend reputable trial lawyers. Having been involved in airplane litigation, I knew there would be a complete investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board to determine how and why this plane crash occurred. I knew the rush to judgement made by Bill O’Reilly was just that, a rush to judgment.

Last night, my beliefs were confirmed. The same Bill O’Reilly told his viewing audience that the same plane that crashed into the Hudson had, just two days previously, suffered engine failures, and had been ordered to go through a full safety inspection. O’Reilly went on to say he thought US Airways was involved in a cover-up and that this plane was could not have been properly inspected and repaired in a 48 hour period. He strongly asserted wrongdoing on the part of US Airways, and that he would continue to monitor this situation.

There was, however, no retratction of the derogatory remarks about lawyers filing suit. He clearly was wrong to make such statments, but, like many others, has found it is popular to bash lawyers. But, as the truth comes out, we learn that there may in fact be negligence involved. Good trial lawyers do just that. They investigate the facts. And then and only then do they file suit. So, the next time you hear someone criticizing a trial lawyer, remember that all the facts may not be known.

Bottom line, when choosing an attorney, make sure you select one who will examine all the facts, and having done so, makes a sound determination about whether a suit should in fact be filed. And when you hear someone bashing a lawyer, remember, he may not have all the facts. And he may be wrong, just like Bill O’Reilly was wrong.