Monday, July 11, 2011

What It Takes to Be a Plaintiff - Hot Coffee, Sluts, and Other Fallacies

Every time I pick a jury, I ask the same questions:

1. Are there two many lawsuits?
2. Are verdicts too high?
3. Do you believe that people should get money for emotional distress?
4. Do you believe juries should award punitive damages if warranted?

The insurance industry and corporate America has done an excellent job of disseminating the mistaken view that lazy, unethical people are running to the courts to cash in on big sums of money for very little effort. In almost every trial a person on the jury panel brings up the McDonald's coffee case as an example of juries gone wild. Te wildly help perception that America is filled with lawyers bringing frivolous cases is just plain false. I challenge everyone reading this blog to watch the HBO documentary movie, Hot Coffee, the Movie. I challenge those who thinks juries are running wild to do some research on what average verdicts are and what federal judges are doing to even moderate verdicts. Read about the people who go through years of ligitation, and even if they win, get nothing, because the company folds to avoid paying the judgement or declares bankruptcy even if it is solvent.

In cases I have handled, my clients have had to endure gross indignities merely to exercise their constitutional rights to redress and a jury trial. Here are some of the humiliating questions asked of my clients:

1. When did you first have sex?
2. Where did you first have sex?
3. Have you ever had sex in a movie theater?
4. Did you and your boyfriend who never worked for your employer videotape the two of you having sex? Is this that video?
5. Have you ever had sex with someone of the same gender? (That was in a car wreck case where a drunk driver hit my client and hurt his back.)
6. Were your children born out of wedlock?
7. Tell us about all of the times you have been married (in a slip and fall case with a broken ankle).
8. Wasn't the company just joking with you when the supervisor called you the "n" word?
9. Have you ever smoked marijuana (in a discrimination case).
10. You've had emotional problems before, haven't you, since your son has ADHD.
11. Have you ever had an extra-marital affair?
12. Wasn't it just a joke when nooses were hanged in the break room?

How many people have the drive and determination to go through the humiliation of ging forth with a lawsuit such as this? I represent those brave souls, but I doubt whether I have the courage to go through this degradation myself.

Most of my clients, when they come to see me, do not say , "How much money am I going to
get?". Most of my clients say,"I want to make sure this doesn't happen to someone else." I am proud to represent he pele I do. They are some of the real American heroes.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points! Thanks and congrats!

    David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell (