The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 December 2002

Twelve angry men and/or women

Scott Ganz takes a break from serving time on a jury to explain huge punitive-damage awards:

[M]any were outraged that a jury of 12 people could dare to award fifty-two billion dollars in damages against a tobacco company. However, while ambling around the hallway outside the courtroom not discussing the case with my fellow jurors, I learned that the jurors in the tobacco case, due to over a year of service, lost jobs, homes, and investments. I can only assume that this was a result of incessant, needling actions on the part of the defense. Generally, the more expensive the big-shot attorney, the longer the case will run.

So you get twelve people who know by the time they reach deliberation that their lives have been ruined. So what do they do? Punish the tar-smelling shit out of the bastards that wasted all their time. Whether or not it's right for them to do (and technically, it's not), can you imagine anyone behaving otherwise?

And they don't even get a cut of the proceeds, either.

Is there a solution to this?

Posted at 12:32 PM to Dyssynergy

I've found that if you go in to jury selection wearing a TRUTH.COM t-shirt (or a "Thank you for not breathing while I smoke" t-shirt), you'll probably be dismissed. Problem solved...

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at 1:54 PM on 15 December 2002

Nothing wrong with large punitive rewards IMHO, they just shouldn't go to the person who lodged the lawsuit. Better to apply them more generally, such as cancer research in the case of tobacco, and the like.

Posted by: dave at 4:48 PM on 15 December 2002

My objection to giant class-action awards is there are usually a lot more plaintiffs than plaintiffs' attorneys, yet the legal team always gets this huge slice of the award. And for what? For recruiting as many plaintiffs as they can for a lawsuit THEY, the lawyers, have conceived on their own.

That ain't justice. That's trial lawyers gaming a system largely designed by trial lawyers.

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at 6:09 AM on 16 December 2002