POLITICAL AND LEGAL PENDULUMS
Probably the biggest case that turned juries off to victims of lawsuits was the McDonald’s case. As just about everybody remembers, a jury gave a large sum of money to a victim who scalded herself with coffee, that was too hot, from McDonald’s when she apparently placed it between her legs while she was driving.
Additionally, the insurance industry was able to convince the general public that, by giving large jury verdicts, their insurance premiums were going up. Ultimately, juries started to believe that, by giving money to auto accident victims and victims of other personal injury cases, that they were ultimately paying for it out of their own pockets.
Once that belief took hold, jury verdicts plummeted. In fact, jury verdicts are down somewhere around 35% from what they were just twenty years ago. The number of defense jury verdicts is staggering. Additionally, even when the jury does give an award to plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits, the jury awards are very small.
This is, of course, an example of the legal pendulum going too far to the right and over correcting for the excesses of the past, when it was too far to the left.
Now, in recent months it seems as though the jury verdicts are starting to move a little more towards the legal center of fair awards.
By this, I mean, we are seeing more and more larger verdicts for plaintiffs in lawsuits where they are legitimately hurt and suffer permanent injuries or require extensive surgery.
This is very similar to the political realm where the political pendulum went from the far right to the left. In the same way, the legal pendulum has swung from the far left all the way back to the far right, and is now moving, hopefully, towards the center where it should be.
Do you think that jury awards are too high? Do you think jury awards are not high enough? Please respond and we will have a intelligent discussion on the issue. I look forward to hearing from you…