Wednesday, April 20, 2011
What I tell clients is this: I cannot make it part of a lawsuit to compel wrongdoers to change their behavior or how they do business. All I can do is sue them for money damages to compensate the client. However, if pursuing a lawsuit gets the wrongdoer to change its behavior to everyone's benefit, well that's all right by me.
--Herbert Beerbohm Tree, British actor
State court records show that very few lawsuits in Tennessee ever go to a jury, and fewer yet end up with awards higher than the caps Gov. Bill Haslam is close to winning in the General Assembly. Last year there were 14 such trials in the state. Some people who did win awards say they didn't want the money as much as they wanted a weapon to stop actions like the ones that killed their loved ones.
When it comes to cases like defective products lawsuits or actions against businesses, the sad truth is that simply speaking sternly to the wrongdoer will not induce him to change his behavior. The only way to get their attention is to hit them in the pocket book.
Of course, the quote above shows that the whole thing is incredibly cynical from the defense side. As a colleague in the defense bar said to me recently, "No one tries big cases any more, they get settled." So, Big Insurance and the chambers of commerce may moan about the high verdicts, but the fact is that they usually will settle out any case where they think they've got serious monetary exposure. They voluntarily pay up. Because, to them, it's all about the money. It's a bean counter thing; if it's cheaper by their calculation to settle the case, they will.
Wouldn't want that, would we?
I guess that means we haven't had any unemployment increases here.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Among the legislators supporting the bill: The House Democratic Leader, a bank executive who is also the president of the Tennessee Banking Association. No conflict of interest there, no sir! Jeez.