Your Lawyer Needs A Hug Too

by William Jorden on March 1, 2011

by William T. Jorden, Esquire

It’s campaign season and time for some big corporations, politicians and special interest groups to advocate a change in your legal system, by attacking your lawyers .

An e-mail circulating on the Internet describes cases allegedly vying for the annual “STELLA” award for the most “frivolous” law suit in the United States. Cases nominated for the “STELLA” award – named for Stella Liebeck, the McDonalds’ coffee Plaintiff are outrageous and are all fabrications.

Reports of the McDonalds’ coffee case itself are distorted, in order to encourage a negative public perception of our legal system and its lawyers.

The truth is that the woman in the McDonalds’ case didn’t want to go to trial-McDonalds did. Mrs. Liebeck would have settled for $20,000. Mrs. Liebeck was (78) years old. She was severally burned by McDonalds’ coffee in 1992. She suffered third degree burns to her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, genital and groin areas. She was hospitalized for weeks and needed skin grafts.

Testimony showed that McDonalds’ policy was to hold hot temperature of coffee at 185 degrees, when it knew that 180 degrees would cause third degree burns. McDonalds knew its customers were unaware of the danger McDonalds’ documents show that more that 700 claims due to burns suffered by its coffee were made between 1982 and 1992.

The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck 20% at fault. The jury also awarded Leibeck 2.7 million in punitive damages, which equals about two days of McDonalds’ coffee sales. The trial court reduced the punitive damage award to $480,000, even though the judge called McDonalds’ conduct reckless and willful. Ultimately, on appeal, the parties entered into a post verdict settlement.

Your lawyer is a part of an honorable profession. We might not have a bill of rights, but for lawyer James Madison. The Gettysburg Address, rededicating our great nation to the principle of equal justice for all, would not have been delivered but for lawyer, Abraham Lincoln. A lawyer named Patrick Henry uttered the famous battle cry “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” A lawyer named, Franklin Roosevelt inspired us with the words “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Your lawyer is part of a justice system based on a right to trial by jury. When you, your neighbors, co-workers or friends sit on a jury, your decisions and verdicts are based upon what you believe is fair, just, and the law. Corporate profits or political contributions do not influence your decisions. Your lawyer stands between this system of justice and those who want it changed.

Your lawyer also stands between you and government, corporate or judicial abuse of power. Your lawyer protects your individual rights and those of future generations of Americans. Your lawyer advises and speaks for you in financial, government or personal dealings. Your lawyer seeks justice for you if you have been injured or wronged.

So, the next time you see your lawyer; remember what lawyers are and what lawyers do. Despite negative attacks – your lawyer is on your side. Give him/her a hug. Your lawyer may need one.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: