It was interesting to see two Lt. Governor candidates toss around the term "personal injury attorney" as a pejorative, especially since one is a lawyer whose website claims to do just that type of work. It's a shame to see a colleague abandon his professional practice for personal political gain. Let's take a look at the type of work our candidates feel isn't good enough for Nevada's citizens:
Just a few months ago, GM was forced to recall 2.6 million cars and trucks due to faulty ignition switches. Thirteen people were killed while GM ignored the reports of systemic problems, which would have cost just $1 to fix. Further, just this week, GM released five more recalls covering 2.7 million additional vehicles. This was done due to safety concerns. But, how did the dangers come to light?
Through trial lawyers doing personal injury work. Lawyers have been helping people year in and year out, for a great many decades. Flow about the notorious example of the Ford Pinto? The Pinto, first introduced in 1971 by Ford Motor Company, gained nationwide attention after causing injuries and deaths associated with its faulty fuel tank. A cost-benefit analysis titled "The Ford Pinto Memo" became public shortly after, and it revealed not only Ford's knowledge of the vehicle's design flaws, but also that it would have cost only an additional $11 per vehicle per year to change. Regardless, Ford figured it was a better decision to pay settlements for "burn deaths" and "serious burn injuries" rather than correct the massive mistake.
Recently, and right here at home, approximately 40,000 Nevadans were put at risk due to the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada's ridiculous practices of re-using medicine vials, bite blocks, and an assortment of other products. Drug makers were held liable as well, due to their knowledge of the dangerous ways in which their products were sold and marketed.
It is due to trial lawyers doing personal injury work that these types of dangerous practices ended, and that harmful drugs and products are removed from public use. We work each day to defend our citizens against the insurance industry and big businesses when they become wrongdoers that create harm by putting profits over people.
Every day, people walk into my office (those who can) after being harmed by others. You cannot help but be moved by their stories of pain and loss. It is an honor to help them navigate our system and help put their lives back together, while also proactively protecting others from the same fate. Trial lawyers are proud of the work we do for those most in need after being victimized by the wrongful actions (or inaction) of others. We carry that badge with pride. Unfortunately, some political candidates don't share that same value.
Mark Wenzel, Esq.
Immediate Past President, Nevada Justice Association
Published in the Reno Gazette Journal May 21, 2014 and in the Nevada Justice Association's July/August 2014 issue of The Advocate