Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Cost of Huge Jury Verdicts in America


I work in a field that requires experienced professionals to use their years of knowledge to evaluate situations and estimate probable outcomes based upon that experience - combined with research and the advice of legal experts. Sometimes the best laid plans, or estimates or Ouija board intelligence is wrong. There are multiple explanations for the lack of foresight. Ultimately, despite the best analysis available, it is not possible to predict how people will react to any given scenario.

My professional career involves evaluating risk. Given a certain set of facts that occurred in a specific geographic area, how is a jury likely to decide what is an appropriate verdict? We can look at prior cases. We can consider the expertise of the lawyers involved. We can look at demographics. We can consider the law and how a particular state has ruled under similar circumstances. But we cannot predict how six or twelve people will respond to the antics of unethical performers. Nor can we truly appreciate the influence of money affecting the election of judges that are courted by certain elements. Elected judges are beholden to those that contribute to their campaigns. Despite what we would like to believe, judges are influenced by many factors outside the law. Some actually have only marginal understanding of the law. 

And so, those of us that analyze risk are often disconcerted when a judge,  group of lawyers and jury completely disregard the facts, the law, the fairness doctrine, ethics, common sense, procedural requirements, the impact on society, and the damages caused by malfeasance in pursuit of the limelight, an entry on a website that brings in more customers, or the effects on society at large. Instead, greed, hubris, self aggrandizement and the rush of crushing an opponent rule the day. dollars? 

When the forces of this conflagration of unethical behavior results in ridiculous jury verdicts, we all pay the price. We pay higher prices for insurance, goods & services, and understanding of indemnity. Civil litigation is intended to find a reasonable remedy for a negligent action. That means to try to make someone who has experienced a loss whole. Unless an individual is a millionaire or billionaire, awarding huge dollars only skews the system. I’m sorry, but the typical wrongful death, if another party is legally responsible, should compensate a family for the financial loss only. Awarding damages far beyond what that individual would ever earn is just wrong and cripples our economy. Other than the Sultan of Brunei, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, how many people are really worth millions

Monday, August 30, 2021

When You & Your Partner Are in Different Professional Worlds


My husband & I have been together more than 16 years.We try to appreciate the slings & arrows of outrageous fortune that we each experience in our professional lives. But, we are in completely different industries. He is a government security contractor. I work for a multinational property & casualty insurance company. There is no mutual understanding of the issues we each face every day.

Over the last two weeks, I was involved in a product liability matter where the judge and plaintiff  attorneys were not playing by the rules. Things did not go well as a result, despite our best efforts. I felt betrayed by the system that is supposed to be fair and equitable. I’m still pondering how my 38 years of experience did not give me the tools to estimate the outcome. My beloved spousal unit told me to let it go. He rightly stated that  I had no control over the outcome. But...we are expected to take ownership of our decisions. Right, wrong, indifferent....He doesn’t understand the metrics of my industry anymore than I understand the metrics of his, 

So, we make every effort to provide emotional support while not fully appreciating the cause and effects, the ups and downs, the successes and failures, the wins and losses in our professional worlds.

But, I do know that I am not alone, whatever the outcome. For this Inam grateful. . 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Frustration With American Civil Litigation

 I’ve been involved in the American civil litigation industry for 40 years and cannot fathom how our population continues to leverage lawsuits as if it were a lottery. Our citizens have morphed from a  “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mindset to a belief that the world owes compensation for every unfortunate event. Nobody seems to appreciate how that adversely affects our economy. 

Let me explain a simple reality: if you are injured, more often or not it is human error, not a defect in an inanimate object. A great deal of the time it is your own damn fault. Yet millions of people seek to blame others for their own inanity, clumsiness, idiocy, alcohol consumption, or just plain bad luck. What happened to personal responsibility! I know, a rhetorical question.

Every time somebody plays the lawsuit lottery, we all pay the price..whether it be increased prices for goods and services, fewer options at Home Depot, higher insurance rates, higher medical costs, higher prices to rent vehicles or boats, or less personal responsibility. 

Sorry, but YOU have a duty to watch where you step, drive safely, climb a ladder responsibly, drink in moderation, chose your friends carefully, refrain from dropping your hairdryer in the bathtub, and keep your hands and feet from under the mower. Just stop suing every person or company that causes some petty offense or minor injury. 

You might win the lawsuit lottery, but the rest of us pay the price.