Courting Justice: Tort Reformers Called You A F*#&ing Idiot

March 29, 2013

By Robert N. Hunn

When you take a good hard look at some of the contentions tossed around by tort reformers, they are in essence saying that you, the American public, are morons.

Tort reformers refer to the civil justice system as jackpot justice. They argued that the system is arbitrary and capricious, and that suing in America is akin to spinning the roulette wheel in hopes that the ball lands on red or black, delivering a big pay day.

Let’s analyze their contention. Let’s pretend we are Vito Corleone sitting around a big conference room table with Bruno Tattaglia and Emilio Barzini. Let’s reason together. (I bet you didn’t know Barzini had a first name.)

A jury is made up of 12 individuals from the same county. They bring together their individual life experiences, their individual values and their individual judgments to form a representative sampling of the community. They listen to the evidence presented by the plaintiff lawyer and the defense lawyer. At the end of the case, the judge gives the jury a set of instructions on how to assess and weigh the evidence.

When it comes to instructing the jury on how to devise a dollar amount as compensation to an injured plaintiff, the jury is specifically told what harms and losses can be compensated for, what they should take into consideration, and to be fair. Throughout the jury charge, the jury is told to be fair and reasonable.

After receiving the judge’s instructions, the jury goes into a room and collaborates on resolving the issues in the case. If ten out of 12 jurors agree there is both negligence and causation, then, and only then, must ten out of 12 jurors reach an agreement on the amount of damages to award.

Well, according to the tort reformers you are too stupid to reach a fair and reasonable verdict. You reach stupid verdicts.

And it’s not just you. They say that when 12 members of your community are assembled, 10 out of the 12 will agree to be stupid and render a runaway verdict. When they say that juries render jackpot justice, they are really pointing their finger at you, saying you’re too much of a moron to award fair compensation to a victim.

Really? Are you buying it? Do you really think we have this vast problem in America that when 12 citizens get together, they, more likely than not, won’t be fair and reasonable but instead arbitrary and unjust? Do you really think that 12 citizens can’t understand the English language when the Judge gives instruction. Do you think they will award a person large sums of money with no basis whatsoever?

The phrase jackpot justice, as with the phrase frivolous lawsuits, is a buzz word. It is a word with no substantive meaning and is intended to evoke an emotional response from you—anger towards lawsuits.

Don’t worry fellow Americans, you are not idiots and you are not morons. Nor are you stupid. I can say that from firsthand experience, as I’ve been in a courtroom. You’re doing a good job.