Too Many Lawyers and Too Many Lawsuits

February 14, 2018
BY: Domhnall O'Cathain

McDonald’s case, run-away juries, tort reform, caps on medical malpractice, compensation culture, and insurance premiums.

Every time we pick a jury, we hear these words and the defense attorneys nod their heads in agreement, while they try to hide their smiles.

As a plaintiff’s lawyer, there is not much you can say to a potential juror who already thinks that lawsuits are damaging the country. Even if we had more than the few minutes the court allows in New Jersey, the potential juror is probably going to resist the words of a plaintiff’s lawyer on that issue.

But every now and again, I hear a story that I think might help people understand why lawsuits can bring justice to the plaintiff and benefit to our societies.

Litigation Can Help Get Compensation For Many

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a conversation on the radio about sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. The conversation turned to how some Catholic societies have dealt with the abuse in a more public and healthy way.

What countries did better? America and Ireland – where the victims filed lawsuits for compensation, making the issue public.

What countries did worse? Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America – where there are fewer lawyers and fewer lawsuits. Many of those victims are waiting for the Catholic Church to response by, for example, sending the Church’s sex crime investigator to Chile.

In the countries with easier access to compensation through the court system, victims had access to lawyers who accepted cases on a contingency fee, an adversarial litigation process where both sides fought, and financial compensation if the plaintiff proved the case.

What has been the outcome of the litigated abuse cases? Where plaintiffs have proven their cases, the individual victims were compensated, and a conversation started in the society that has led to greater protections for children.

On the other hand, it is reported that in Italy, parents continue to warn their children not be alone in a room with a priest. That is not good for the Church and is horrific for children.

So, the next time you read about a million dollar verdict, please remember that the verdict might make your life a little safer. If the jury verdict was too high, the defense lawyer can ask the judge to reduce it. And it the verdict has to be paid, it will nearly always be paid from insurance. And how about the defense lawyer? Don’t worry. He or she will be paid no matter the outcome.