WASHINGTON, DC—A Jacksonville, Fla., small business owner threatened with a lawsuit by a driver ticketed for crashing into a company vehicle is speaking out against the litigation system on www.FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org. The video story of Chase Air owner Charles Terrizzi is part of a nationwide public awareness campaign by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) designed to show that abusive lawsuits affect real people in very real ways.
“Abusive lawsuits are not victimless,” said ILR President Lisa Rickard. “Many people have the perception that lawsuits are primarily the concern of faceless, ‘deep-pocket’ corporations. Yet locally-owned businesses like Chase Air are also victims of these abusive suits.”
Chase Air is a small air conditioning installation company Terrizzi runs out of his converted garage. In July of 2007, one of his two company vans was hit head-on by a car that crossed a yellow line and veered into oncoming traffic. Under threat of a lawsuit and fearing exorbitant legal expenses, Chase Air’s insurance company settled a claim filed by the other driver, even though police determined that the other driver was at fault. The driver and his lawyers are now suing the Chase Air employee who was driving the van.
In addition to Terrizzi’s story, the website features a collection of video stories of lawsuit abuse victims, such as a Maryland pool supply owner who was sued for $750,000 when a wild goose nesting near his store startled a passerby, causing her to fall. The campaign, supported by a nationwide television, radio, and online advertising effort, will run through early 2009.
“The people featured in this campaign all suffered real emotional and financial pain,” said Rickard. “By giving voices to their stories, we hope that Americans will understand that our lawsuit-happy culture is taking a toll on their friends, neighbors, and local businesses.”
A 2008 election-night poll found that 83 percent of overall voters believe the number of frivolous lawsuits is a serious problem, with strong majorities agreeing across the political spectrum.
ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.