While the United States is often called the Land of the Law Suit, in reality Americans hardly sue at all. In fact, when it comes to physical injuries, over 90% of the time, we--as David M. Engel points out in his engaging and provocative book--simply lump it, making no claims against either the injurers or their insurance companies. Bringing to bear an impressive array of research and data, Engel firmly and persuasively demolishes the pervasive myth of the litigious American. But why don t most people sue whey they have been wrongfully physically injured? We have in fact a mystery, what Engel calls The Case of the Missing Plaintiff. The solution his investigation leads us to is as fascinating as it is unexpected. Engel reconstructs how people who suffer injuries actually react to them. When real people experience physical injuries, their lives, thoughts, and emotions are profoundly disrupted and compromised. They often have difficulty thinking clearly and acting decisively. Human nature, our immediate friends and families, and broader social and cultural factors all tend again injury victims making claims. And as often as one might have heard of victim-blaming, self-blame is one of the most common reactions of victims to their injuries. Ultimately Engel shows that the proliferation of law and regulations in our society is not the problem. The real problem is the law s failure to protect those who suffer wrongful injuries. Tort law is usually said to serve three purposes that even those who want to curtail law suits would agree on: to compensate losses suffered by injury victims, to deter unnecessarily risky and harmful behavior, and to correct the moral injustice that results when one person or group injures another. Engel s book clearly and powerfully shows that none of these purposes is being met and concludes his investigation with recommendations for how they might be."
Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, virtually all companies have antidiscrimination policies in place. Although these policies represent some progress, women and minorities remain underrepresented within the workplace as a whole and even more so when you look at high-level positions. They also tend to be less well paid. How is it that discrimination remains so prevalent in the American workplace despite the widespread adoption of policies designed to prevent it? One reason for the limited success of antidiscrimination policies, argues Lauren B. Edelman, is that the law regulating companies is broad and ambiguous, and managers therefore play a critical role in shaping what it means in daily practice. Often, what results are policies and procedures that are largely symbolic and fail to dispel long-standing patterns of discrimination. Even more troubling, these meanings of the law that evolve within companies tend to eventually make their way back into the legal domain, inconspicuously influencing lawyers for both plaintiffs and defendants and even judges. When courts look to the presence of antidiscrimination policies and personnel manuals to infer fair practices and to the presence of diversity training programs without examining whether these policies are effective in combating discrimination and achieving racial and gender diversity, they wind up condoning practices that deviate considerably from the legal ideals.
Seven in ten Americans over the age of age of sixty who require medical decisions in the final days of their life lack the capacity to make them. For many of us, our biggest, life-and-death decisions--literally--will therefore be made by someone else. They will decide whether we live or die; between long life and quality of life; whether we receive heroic interventions in our final hours; and whether we die in a hospital or at home. They will determine whether our wishes are honored and choose between fidelity to our interests and what is best for themselves or others. Yet despite their critical role, we know remarkably little about how our loved ones decide for us. Speaking for the Dying tells their story, drawing on daily observations over more than two years in two intensive care units in a diverse urban hospital. From bedsides, hallways, and conference rooms, you will hear, in their own words, how physicians really talk to families and how they respond. You will see how decision makers are selected, the interventions they weigh in on, the information they seek and evaluate, the values and memories they draw on, the criteria they weigh, the outcomes they choose, the conflicts they become embroiled in, and the challenges they face. Observations also provide insight into why some decision makers authorize one aggressive intervention after the next while others do not--even on behalf of patients with similar problems and prospects. And they expose the limited role of advance directives in structuring the process decision makers follow or the outcomes that result. Research has consistently found that choosing life or death for another is one of the most difficult decisions anyone can face, sometimes haunting families for decades. This book shines a bright light on a role few of us will escape and offers steps that patients and loved ones, health care providers, lawyers, and policymakers could undertake before it is too late.