Blue Shield of California has aggressively defended against a lawsuit brought by Steve and Cindy Hailey complaining that Blue Shield wrongfully rescinded their health insurance policy. Yesterday the AP reported
that a trial court judge in California directed a verdict in favor of Blue Shield after hearing the case presented by the Haileys. Congratulations to Blue Shield and condolences to the Haileys. I'm looking forward to my own forthcoming battle
with Blue Shield.
I don't think that every grievance a person or entity has should end up in court or that, being in court, every dispute should end up going to the judge or jury for decision. But there are many disputes that need to be presented to an impartial finder of fact for resolution. The right to take grievances to court is constitutionally guaranted. I sometimes think that with so many whining about the supposed over-lawyering of our society (think Philip K. Howard
), we lose sight of the importance of the courthouse doors being open.
There's a remarkable positive correlation between large business interests and efforts to restrict or close the court house doors to regular people. As Dahlia Lithwick suggests
, the solution to most of our problems is not less regulation or oversight. Especially in light of our recent home mortgage and financial meltdown, we should be thinking about how to ensure greater, not less, accountability from the corporate and government institutions that have such a huge impact on our day-to-day lives. Kvetching about some moron who thinks he's entitled to millions when the dry cleaners lose a pair of his pants may be fun among friends. However, it hardly serves as a helpful example of the significant challenges we face in protecting the rights and assets of regular people in our society. Idiosyncratic, greedy or egomaniacal cranks in our society who occasionally abuse the legal system have always been, and always will, be with us. But it's beyond doubt that there are bigger, more systematic, abuses in our society we should be concerned about.
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