Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More on the "Leave No Child Inside Legal Defense Fund" concept

(Idea first discussed here and here). Here are the two quotes from the updated version of Last Child in the Woods, from a discussion of legal reform to reduce liability concerns that keep kids away from nature:

While we wait for legal reform, environmental attorney Brian Schmidt has an idea that just might help....To liberate natural play, he suggests creation of what he calls a "Leave No Child Inside Legal Defense Fund," a foundation that would pay the legal costs of select institutions and individuals who encourage children to go outdoors but are then hit with frivolous lawsuits. Volunteer lawyers for the Defense Fund would focus on the most frivolous, high-profile claims, or those claims that would establish the worst precedents. He suspects that the outdoor industries would be interested in funding such an organization. 'Obviously, regardless of how successful this idea could become, it will never cover all the costs of defending against frivolous lawsuits,' he adds. 'Still it could help, and just the fact that a defendant knew it was possible to recover costs might make the defendant less likely to settle.' It would also send a public message that natural play is still valued.
(page 243)

Also in the chapter "100 Actions We Can Take":

67. ....Create a Leave No Child Inside legal defense fund that would, using pro bono attorneys, help families and organizations fight egregious lawsuits that restrict children's play in nature and bring media attention to the issues.
(page 377)

To reinforce something I wrote earlier, I think it would be simplest for the legal fund to simply review completed legal cases where defendants didn't cave in, select the best ones, and reimburse all or part of their legal costs. This would be relatively easy for pro-bono attorneys to handle. More complicated would be actually doing the litigation, as only a few attorneys or law firms have the resources to devote sufficient pro-bono time to run the suit. Maybe this would be possible at some point, though.

Another issue would be what types of defendants should be eligible. While one might argue against making wealthy liability insurance companies eligible for the rewards, I think we should reward them too for doing the right thing, and they likely represent the biggest number of cases. My suggestion would be to have the funds directed at three target groups in decreasing priority: nonprofits that get kids outside, for-profit businesses that do the same, and last the liability insurers that defend either of the first two groups.

My other suggestion is that insurers only get compensated if they attest that they won't raise insurance rates against the insuree that was hit with the frivolous suit.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.