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Mitt Romney, Robert Ferrigno, Chinese Drywall and the NYC Helicopter-Plane Collision

Sunday, August 9, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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A very varied program on tap for tomorrow.

Mitt Romney will join me to discuss President Obama’s push for radical changes to American medicine against the backdrop of criticisms of the Massachusetts’ plan Romney pushed through while governor.

Then my novelist pal Robert Ferrigno returns to discuss the third and final volume in his series of books about a USA that has been split into many parts following devastating WMD attacks, the greatest expanse of which is Muslim. Though each of the three books can stand alone, I strongly recommend beginning at the start with Prayers for the Assassin, followed by Sins of the Assassin and then the newest, Heart of the Assassin:

Heart of the Assassin: A Novel

Sins of the Assassin got nominated for an Edgar as Best Novel of 2008 (a big deal in the mystery/thriller world) and Heart of the Assassin got a starred review from Publishers Weekly. When a writer can create a believable, riveting world just a few years in the future it is an accomplishment. When he can do so and sustain the world for three books, it is a real and rare feat. Ferrigno’s research into Islam and the swirl of the “clash of civilizations” is evident on every page, as is his deeply sympathetic understanding of believers of the three Abrahamic faiths as well as the fanatics of each of the branches. Of course it is a great read as well, but like my other favorite thriller writers, Ferrigno is teaching even as he entertains.

The show will also include a conversation with Joseph Timothy Cook, one of the country’s leading aviation disaster lawyers (former carrier pilot and DOJ lawyer to boot) about Saturday’s tragedy in New York, as well as a primer on, of all things, Chinese drywall.

Why Chinese drywall? Well, I have many friends and clients in the building and development businesses, and I have been obliged to get smart on the growing controversy. On Saturday the BBC’s Global Report carried the first “breakthrough” report I have heard broadcast, a sign that tells me the controversy will soon spread across MSM, and the wave of lawsuits will grow. (the story has received occasional coverage in the Wall Street Journal and specialty sites for lawyers, but until now it has been a low level buzz among my law clients who sell and use drywall.) With some reports alleging that more than 100,000 homes have the controversial drywall in them, trial lawyers will soon assault the already fragile industry with asbestos-like claims and American tort law will be off on one of its periodic witch hunts.

I am sympathetic to the homeowners dealing with the problems associated with the suspect drywall, but allowing a legion of lawyers to decide how and when the accused industries will be brought to justice makes no sense. Here is where the Congress could have used stimulus money to both repair a problem and protect a crucial industry from a debilitating plague of lawsuits.

Contrast the tragedy in NYC where the victims of catastrophic injury need plaintiffs’ lawyers like Cook to get them the damages they deserve with mass tort litigation like I see coming with Chinese drywall. The country desperately needs systemic tort reform so that victims of tort get quick justice and fair rewards, but it doesn’t need bounty hunting. As noted Friday, the failure to have this debate in connection with medical malpractice claims and awards is one of the key shortcomings of Obamacare, and the more Americans focus on the costs of runaway lawsuits to the overall economic health of the country, the less likely Obamacare is to pass.

If you are one of the homeowners affected by Chinese drywall, I’ll be happy to post your e-mail detailing the problem, but I’d also like to know what you think is a better solution: a legislatively mandated fix accompanied by a bar on private actions or a referral to a law firm for years of litigation while you sit in a home some allege is dangerous to your health and the health of your kids. You can reach me at hugh@hughhewitt.com.

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