Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Big verdict winners: It's not about the money. The takeaway:
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.

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