John Oliver gave a humorous spin to a very serious problem. Companies buy debt from the original creditors and then file lawsuits against the debtors to recover the debt, often times at interest rates that double, triple or quadruple the original debt. While perhaps not the focus of Mr. Oliver’s show, he has identified a very significant problem concerning these debt purchasing practices. They are clogging up courts across the country trying to collect these debts, many of which were forgiven or written off by the original creditor years ago. Essentially, these debt purchasers have bought debt with the expectation they would be filing lawsuits to collect the debt.

While Mr. Oliver’s comments were in the context of debt purchasing, they speak to a bigger issue that impacts citizens throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the United States – – the so called need for “Tort Reform.” State and Federal Legislators have been making efforts for more than a decade to limit the rights of ordinary citizens’ access to the Courthouse. At the request of industry, they have enacted or proposed legislation imposing caps on damages, creating medical review panels and limiting the right to file lawsuits for some injuries unless a certain threshold is reached.

Yet. everyday, corporations file lawsuits, which the common person would find silly. While corporations and people file lawsuits with which some of us may not agree, the Constitution gives them that right. Overwhelmingly, judges and juries reject claims that lack merit, Our judicial system works and has worked for two hundred years. Corporations routinely avail themselves of our court system to right a perceived wrong committed against them, yet they don’t want injured individuals to have the right to do the same.

What can you do? When you read about legislation proposed in Kentucky or your state, which seeks to limit your access to the Courthouse, contact your legislators and let them know you oppose the bill. Recently, Kentucky legislators proposed Senate Bill 6, which would have required victims, injured by negligent nursing homes, to have their case heard before a medical review panel, before they could file a lawsuit and have their case heard by a jury of their peers. The result would have been increased costs to both parties and an even more prolonged resolution. Fortunately, Senate Bill 6 was sent back to committee without a vote due to lack of support. However, it will resurface again in future legislative sessions.

Satterley & Kelley fought against Senate Bill 6 and will fight against any legislation or regulation, which is intended to limit the rights of individuals to recover for injuries caused by defective products or the negligence of another.

If you or a loved one has been injured from asbestos exposure, a defective product or the negligence of another, contact Satterley & Kelley, 502-589-5600, Louisville, Kentucky.