For most of my life I no real opinion of civil law because why would? Probably I was slightly brainwashed not to like it because people like to complain about lawsuits (coffee is supposed to be hot!) but I had no real opinion. Then I started reading about civil cases for my job and I quickly grew to hate the civil court. Partially because it seems like a money grab a lot of the time that has nothing to do with “justice” but also partially because I don’t understand why it’s separate from criminal law. If someone runs over your face with a street sweeper shouldn’t the driver be arrested rather than suing the city for employing someone who ran someone over?
Another piece, which I admit is not why I care at all but seems like it a thing, is that civil law appears to be an end run around double jeopardy. If you are acquitted of murder shouldn’t that mean you didn’t murder someone? Being sued for wrongful death afterwards seems wrong. Now do people get away with murder? Sure. But is that a good reason for civil litigation? Sidenote, if you do get away with murder and then someone sues you for wrongful death why don’t you just murder them? You got away with it once why not again? Maybe they don’t want to press their luck.
Anyway, the question is who’s suing who. Sometimes people sue other people. I’m more okay with this even though it seems completely arbitrary. The people on the jury don’t know or care about how the law works, they just decided based on whatever they feel. You sue for money because you back issues because someone rammed you with a Zamboni and someone on the jury also has back issues you’re screwed because they have no sympathy for you. After all their back hurts EVERY DAY and no one gave them any money. Conversely if someone on the jury likes your jacket maybe you’ll win. It’s like playing blackjack when a person sues another person, maybe you’ll win some money, maybe you won’t. Some people are better at it than others but overall it’s a crapshoot (how’s that for a mixed metaphor?!).
Sometimes people sue companies (which are technically people under the law). This is bullshit because the companies have no chance. Because people are on the jury and people hate every company that exists. Because companies want our money. Which is a sin beyond forgiving because WE want that money. Money WE can spend on things. Things made by companies. It’s complicated. Actually it’s simple, it’s like those men who hate women because they won’t have sex with them. We want the stuff but we just want the companies to give it to us. Why should we have to pay for it? Anyway, everyone on a jury will find in favor of the human and order the company to pay 89,976 gajillion dollars because we have to stick to the Man!
But also because the more impersonal stealing is the more people are fine with it. Grabbing something out of a person’s hand? Most people aren’t cool with that. Taking something out of someone’s purse/wallet when they’re not looking. Not as bad. Your buddy Jim-Jam accidentally pays you too much for the case of leather hot pants you ordered together? Well, didn’t he owe you from that time you went out for drinks last month anyway? The point is it’s a sliding scale – and taking money from a company? That’s barely even immoral right? In fact isn’t that what the Bill of Rights says? I get to steal shit from companies because it’s patriotism? I believe that’s the first amendment. Also capitalism right? Corporations try to poison our lakes and we steal their toothbrushes and it all evens out.
Jeremy, why do you care if people use the courts to rip off companies. Companies are not your friend, they’re poising our lakes I heard. That’s a fair point actually, but it smacks of two wrongs making a right and I don’t like that notion. I mean emotionally I love it, I want anyone who was ever mean to me to get eyeball cancer and their kids to become drug addicts, but logically it’s a poor idea.
Now I know nothing about the law or the legal system or justice (or anything else) but I know someone who does and she tells me that civil law is necessary. One reason is because companies are evil and need to be smacked down and the only way to do that is with civil litigation. That doesn’t make sense to me though because can’t criminal law handle that? Another reason is because when someone gets physically impaired they need money to live with their new limitations and the only way to do that is with civil law. But this also doesn’t make sense to me because the government could do that right? Take care of people? Isn’t that theoretically their thing?
I’ve been led to believe that civil litigation is much less common in other modern nations than it is in the US. I have no idea if this is true. If you’re reading this (which you aren’t) and you’re from another country that isn’t the US (which you aren’t) please give me a detailed breakdown of your entire civil justice tradition.
But let’s return to the question of who’s suing who. In 2005 Judge Roy Pearson sued his dry cleaner for 67 million dollars because this pants weren’t ready until May 6th when they were supposed to be ready on May 5th. This case lasted three years and was elevated to the court of appeals. Pearson was planning on taking to the Supreme Court but didn’t file his paperwork in time. 67 million seems excessive but these were special pants with more belt loops. I know if I wanted my pants and they weren’t ready I’d burn the entire continent of North America to ashes.
This incident was already made into an episode of Law and Order, but it was after Jerry Orbach and Jesse Martin weren’t on the show anymore so no one cared. I think this should be made into a movie starring Patton Oswald as Pearson, who has become known as Judge Fancy Pants. You see Pearson was going through a divorce at the time and some people think maybe that played a part in what was clear to everyone as “bad faith litigation”. Like maybe it wasn’t really about the pants. Maybe. In the Patton Oswald Judge Fancy Pants movie Pearson would be a man at the end of his rope who’s pursuing something to insane ends because his life is falling down around him. It would be a black comedy of sorts. Basically it would be just be Big Fan over again but that was a good movie that no one saw so it’s fine.
I wonder if actor types ever think about doing that. They made a movie the really liked before they were “big” so no one saw it and then they re-make it after they’re mainstream bigshots. Probably not.
In conclusion that’s who’s suing who.
I support Tort reform, at least in part because of Ralph Nader. I mean, people hate him because he ruined their car or whatever, and because Al Gore was a terrible candidate, but as a consumer advocate and guy who spoke out against tort reform he was pretty good. Plus – Nader’s Raiders, which will be my next BloodBowl team
I knew nothing about Ralph Nader when he ran for president and ruined the entire world. Now that I know more about him it’s a bummer that he had no chance. But he’s probably done more good than 70% of presidents anyway.
Plus when those juries think they’re sticking it to the man by awarding a gazillion dollars, they’re probably just sticking it to a liability insurer.
The insurance companies are always the real victims, I hear about it every day