Supreme Court's attack on children, seniors and the disabled

What kind of legal system would play "Russian Roulette" with the lives of our children, the disabled and our seniors? The answer: Michigan and its Engler-appointed, Republican judges. Harsh criticism? It is. But, necessarily harsh because the loss of life and the loss of quality of life that those Republican judges condone, day in and day out, is a scandal that has existed way too long.

Under the law established by Engler judges and their successors, the lives and safety of our children, our disabled and our seniors. are all left unprotected. When the John Engler Supreme Court justices set up shop, they dismantled prior Michigan law... authoring 26 cases in a five-year period (1998-2002) that overruled settled precedent. See "Stare Decisis v. the 'New Authority': the Michigan Supreme Court's Practice of Overruling Precedent (1998-2002)."

The new wave of Engler judges gave Engler everything he wanted and everything he counted on... a rigged legal system that allowed Corporate America, government and their insurance carriers to escape jury trials, a rigged legal system that told the American public that trial lawyers who attempt to make the rich and powerful "accountable" to the rest of us were the enemy and a rigged legal system that did away with the very "accountability" that tort law is supposed to ensure. See The Ideology of Textualism by Professor Joseph Kimble (Lawyers Weekly... 8/21/17) where Professor Kimble demonstrates that when the Engler judges interpreted Michigan statutes, using the so-called, neutral doctrine of "textualism," Corporate America, insurance carriers and Michigan government won 78 out of 81 cases over a 15-year period (20002015). What a statistical coincidence, eh? Examples of the John Engler-rigged legal system, include:

(1) Elderly left to fend for themselves. See Estate of Koetsier v. Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School, decided this August. An 85-year-old grandmother who was going to see her grandson play basketball, slipped and fell on "black ice" while traversing the school parking lot, hit her head and was dead within 24 hours. Her case was dismissed under the "open and obvious" doctrine with a parting shot by the Court of Appeals that the danger was certainly "avoidable" because the grandmother didn't have to go to the basketball game of her grandson. Wow! Eighty-five-years-old and the message from the Michigan Courts is "stay home, Grandma." The message should have been one of "accountability" to the defendant school: Maintain your parking lot for the safety of all, including the elderly, and then let the jury, the conscience of the community, figure out who is at fault and the percentage of fault.

(2) Kids left to fend for themselves. See Beals v. State of Michigan where an autistic teenager drowned in the pool of his group home because the State of Michigan lifeguard was not at his post as he (admittedly) flirted with the girls and threw the football around, while the kid drowned. The kid's case was dismissed because, as the Michigan Supreme Court said, the lifeguard's desertion of his post was not the "most immediate, efficient and direct cause" of the drowning because some other "unidentified" force caused the autistic kid to drown. "Unidentified" force? Like what, your Honors? Gravity, which is the ultimate cause of all drowning? Again, the message of the case should have been one of "accountability" for lifeguards so the lives of our autistic children are not necessarily at risk. Let the jury figure out who is at fault and the percentage of fault.

(3) Disabled left to fend for themselves. See Sidorowicz v. Chicken Shack where a blind man's case was dismissed on the grounds that the dangerous condition on the bathroom floor (that existed for some time) was "open and obvious" and should have been seen by the blind man. "I see," said the blind man who really couldn't see at all. The message should have been that Corporate America has a duty to guard against dangerous conditions that can injure their disabled customers and, again, let the jury decide who was at fault and the percentages of fault.

The bottom line. While the courts should be insisting on "accountability" for premises owners, lifeguards, government and Corporate America and on trial by jury for those killed or injured by dangerous conditions, Engler and his appointed judges "rigged" the system of justice so that "Big Guy, Bad Guys" can just sit back, do nothing to protect our children, our seniors and our disabled community and roll the dice on their lives by just ignoring easily correctable, dangerous conditions. Reading between the lines, you can hear the court telling the "Big Guy, Bad Guys" - "Don't worry about 'accountability.' We've got your back." Typical of a legal system of "who knows who," rather than a rule of law for all.

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Fred Lauck is a longtime trial lawyer and author of "The Fightin' Irish of Detroit, Fightin' in the Streets. Fightin' in the Courts (An American Story)"; "Wealth Power Politics Jesus"; and "Children of the Greatest Generation."

Published: Mon, Oct 08, 2018

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