Although most lawyers fought hard to defeat Props 200, 201 and 202, The San Francisco Recorder — San Francisco’s legal newspaper — endorsed all three. So when they asked me to comment on our March 26 defeat (as described yesterday), I quickly warmed to the task:

Rack up another win for F. Lee Bailey (who helped lead the first fight against true no-fault auto insurance in the early 70’s) and for lawyers everywhere who put their own interests ahead of the community they serve.

It’s not hard to win when you have so much money and are willing to lie. When RAND estimates personal injury insurance rates will drop 40% with true no-fault, just flood the airwaves with ads stating that rates will RISE 40%. When challenged, say it’s based on data the source for which told Newsweek’s Jane Bryant Quinn: “no reputable economist would have used the data that way.”

Lying is OK, apparently, if it’s in a greater cause: protecting $2.5 billion a year in legal fees.

Tell me this, Tom Brandi, Mylene Reuvekamp, et al [San Francisco personal injury lawyers] — what are YOU going to do for the crash victim rendered paraplegic in a hit and run? In a one-car crash? By an uninsured motorist? When fault can’t be proven? By a motorist with just $15,000 of coverage or $25,000? That’s 85% of the cases right there — what are you, personally, going to do for those people?

Prop 200 would have provided them with up to $1 million per person in medical, rehab and wage loss — FOR LESS THAN THE COST OF AUTO INSURANCE TODAY.

What are YOU going to do for them?

I suspect I know: you’re going to feel a little uncomfortable for a minute reading this, you’re going to tell yourself I’m not stating this fairly (and that YOU didn’t write those TV ads — or the ones likening Seagate Chairman Alan Shugart, whose investors have tripled their money, to Charles Keating, a convicted felon). And then you’re going to go back to taking $2.5 billion a year out of the auto insurance dollar and feeling as if you really care about crash victims.

What’s so frustrating is that most of you really DO care. But self-interest can be blinding. When so much money is at stake, “the process” just seems to take over.

See you again two years from now, at the next election. Maybe F. Lee Bailey will be out of jail by then and available to help you with your selfless battle yet again.

Tomorrow: How the Lawyers Won


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