The Daily Gamecock

Law review questions fairness

Guest expert says legal system gives advantage to corporations


Although all Americans have the right to file suit against a wrongdoer, the chances of a case between an Average Joe and a corporation actually going to trial has diminished significantly in the past 20 years, or such was the premise discussed at USC Law Review’s annual symposium.

“Civil justice is no longer available,” Arthur Miller, a Harvard Law graduate with more than 50 years of experience, stated in a keynote address Thursday night at the School of Law. “I no longer know why we have courts.”

Miller opened South Carolina’s “The Implications of McIntyre and Goodyear Dunlop Tires” Law Review symposium with an in-depth and passionate speech on civil procedure.

“Arthur Miller is the biggest civil procedure expert in the country, and to make an argument that is about justice and the public’s access to courts was great,” Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Danielle Holley-Walker said.

Law has turned into a business in the past 50 years, Miller said, adding that it no longer has the best interest of the American public at heart.

Miller attributed this recent shift to the constant struggles between the public and American corporations, which he said have changed the way the legal system processes civil suits.

The symposium reviewed the controversial cases of J. McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro, and Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown, both of which raise the question of whether personal jurisdiction or the authority of a court has more power to decide a case.

Civil procedures are the rules that govern how to litigate — or contest in a lawsuit — in federal court.

Miller posited that many civil suits are frequently dismissed by a judge, settled or abandoned early due to “stop signs” that are thrown up by legal policy.

Before a civil case can go to trial, he said, the plaintiff’s plea “has to show,” which means that he or she must prove his or her ability to win the case.

If that cannot be done, the case is dismissed and the defendant potentially saves thousands of dollars.

“What is our civil rights value?” Miller questioned. “It’s never been measured other than from some defense costs.”

The symposium will continue with five panels today examining the civil implications of the McIntyre and Goodyear Dunlop Tires cases.

“I thought the way he explained the cases and went through them was masterful,” second-year law student Michael Sanchez said. “I agree that many stop signs have been raised to keep regular people from taking corporations to trial.”