Wednesday, February 05, 2003

An emailer to me believes that marginal med mal claims exist, relative to the potential of a lawyer "shakedown" of a malpractice carrier. I'm sure it happens, but in my experience, at least, it can't happen too often, because (1) carriers don't settle up quickly in any med mal I've seen, and (2) the lawyer is going to routinely spend thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars to get a nuisance value recovery, such that he ends up losing money on a net basis. If you lose money more often than not, you're out of business.

He also believes that "Jury manipulation is a scandal. Jury consultants, corrupt voir dire, people getting themselves excused, the lottery mentality, Madison County, Illinois. When was the last time people like me were on a jury?" I don't know what kind of person he is, but assuming that he's an upright citizen who wants to do the right thing, most people on most juries are just like that. Contempt for those who do their duty on juries is unfortunate, and tends to oversimplify the composition of juries. As to jury consultants and "corrupt" voir dire [note: how do you do corrupt voir dire?], I have yet to see a lawyer doing voir dire or a consultant who can accurately read the minds of the venire panel, when choosing the jury. At the end, it still comes down to gut feel and hoping for the best, whichever side you're on.

This emailer also looks at a personal injury lawsuit as a coerced transaction -- because Big Insurance will not settle the case -- and trial lawyers as exploiting the coerced transaction, apparently because they charge a contingent fee. Without that lawyer, who's willing to take on the case, spend potentially a fortune out of his pocket, and risk not getting any fee or expense reimbursement, and is willing to do that for years on end on any particular case, there wouldn't be any case, and the negligent party gets a "get out of jail free card." That's not exploitation, that's charging a reasonable fee, based on the complexity of the case and the risk that lawyer is taking.

Thanks for the email.