WASHINGTON, D.C.—An Eagle, CO, couple whose seven-year-old son was sued over a minor accident on a ski slope is recounting its legal ordeal as part of a national campaign called Faces of Lawsuit Abuse, which exposes the negative effects of abusive lawsuits on small businesses and individuals. Robb and Susan Swimm, parents of Scott Swimm, tell their story in a short video featured on www.FacesofLawsuitAbuse.org, sponsored by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).
“Abusive lawsuits are not victimless,” said ILR President Lisa Rickard. “Many people think big-dollar lawsuits are only filed against ‘deep-pocket’ corporations. Yet small businesses and regular families like the Swimms are just as likely to be the target of costly, frivolous suits.”
When a man turned suddenly while skiing in front of seven-year-old Scott Swimm, Scott slid over the man’s skis to avoid a bodily collision, and the two skiers tipped over. Several months later, Scott was personally served with lawsuit papers, triggering a legal battle that forced the boy to be deposed by a team of plaintiffs’ lawyers. The Swimms were eventually forced to settle due to the cost and emotional toll of continuing to fight the lawsuit.
“I believe that, when it all comes down to it, it was all about money,” Robb Swimm said. “My son’s age was no concern. My family’s situation was no concern. And I do believe the lawyers used Scott and his age as a pawn to get across a certain fear that ‘we’re going to hurt your child more if you don’t pay us.’”
The Swimms’ story is one of the latest posted on the Web site, which features a collection of videos about small businesses and individuals across the country who have dealt with abusive lawsuits. The effort is supported by a national television, Internet, and radio ad campaign.
“The people featured in this campaign all suffered real emotional and financial pain,” said Rickard. “We are giving voice to their stories so that Americans will understand that our lawsuit-happy culture is taking a toll on their friends, neighbors, and local businesses.”
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 is the world’s largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.