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Shakedown: How Corporations, Government, and Trial Lawyers Abuse the Judicial Process (Hardback)


Robert A. Levy

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About the Book
Baseless lawsuits encourage the notion that individuals can engage in risky behavior, then force someone else to pay for their mistakes. That’s the premise underlying litigation against manufacturers of cigarettes, guns, lead paint, fatty foods, and alcoholic beverages.

Meanwhile, our antitrust laws have been co-opted by frustrated competitors who curry favor with bureaucrats to attack market leaders such as Microsoft. In effect, antitrust is now a subsidy used to promote the parochial interests of politically favored companies.

In Shakedown, Robert A. Levy uncovers the worst abuses of a judicial system run amok, then offers concrete proposals to fix the problems. Here are some of the author’s hard-hitting criticisms:

  • Tobacco. Today, the cigarette companies; tomorrow, anyone could be victimized. The rule of law has yielded to ambitious state attorneys general, social engineers, and contingency-fee trial lawyers stalking an outcast industry.

  • Guns. To circumvent the legislature, anti-gun advocates have taken their battle to the courtroom. The courts must not entertain lawsuits based on bizarre legal theories that seek to have every “victim” compensated by corporate America.

  • Tort Reform. Many companies believe that no matter how responsibly they behave, they’ll be held liable for the negligence of others. That problem is real, but tort law is up to the states, not Congress.

  • Antitrust. The concept of antitrust is flawed to the core. Markets move faster than antitrust ever could. Consumers can unseat any product and any company no matter how powerful. Antitrust, if it ever was needed, is now obsolete.

Shakedown is a sweeping indictment of abusive lawsuits in the United States and a blueprint for overhauling our antitrust and tort laws.
About the Author
Robert A. Levy is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He is also an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, a director of the Institute for Justice, and a member of the Board of Visitors of the Federalist Society. Levy holds a Ph.D. from American University and a J.D. from the George Mason University Law School. His writing has been published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, National Review, Weekly Standard, Legal Times, and Journal of the American Medical Association. He also has appeared on many national radio and TV programs, including "Crossfire," "Nightline," "Geraldo," "Hardball," and the "Today Show."
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What Others Have Said
“Increasingly, our laws and courts are used to further the political agenda of a powerful few. Robert Levy presents a compelling argument that such legal manipulation must be reined in to preserve the rule of law and our democratic system of justice.”
—Catherine Crier, Host, "Court TV," and bestselling author of The Case against Lawyers

“If you’re not alarmed at what state attorneys general are up to these days, you’re probably not paying attention. Robert Levy shines a spotlight on some of the most destructive litigation of our era.”
—Walter Olson, author, The Rule of Lawyers, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute

“The Founders gave us a government of laws and not men. In Shakedown, Robert Levy shows what happens when that principle is reversed: well-connected special interests and career-minded politicians conspire to use government as a means of extortion. But the answer, as Levy shows, is not yet another legislative quick fix, but a newfound respect for individual rights and the rule of law. Levy’s penetrating analysis and compelling insights deserve widespread readership.”
—Chip Mellor, President & General Counsel, Institute for Justice

“This important book will both anger and encourage readers. Angered by the flagrant abuses and encouraged by the author’s articulated reforms, most will find this a fast and fascinating read.”
—Former U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop

“If you want to know why and how the costs of your insurance premiums, prescription drugs, doctor visits, real estate taxes, and sales taxes have secretly gone up, read this book. Bob Levy has masterfully chronicled how the trial lawyers are robbing you while making themselves look like do-gooders.”
—Hon. Andrew P. Napolitano, Senior Judicial Analyst, Fox News Channel