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LegalGround >> Truth about Frivolous Lawsuits?


7/15/08 4:07 PM
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New2MMA
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I wanted to ask some of the attorneys on here for the truth about lawsuits. I hear horror stories (all word of mouth) about people being sued for basically nothing or practically nothing and losing nearly everything.

First question, how at-risk is the 'common person' of losing everything over meaningless torts and parasitic people who are 'playing lottery'?

Second, if what people say is true, how can you protect yourself and your assets from this kind of thing?
7/15/08 7:09 PM
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jbapk
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It's generally way overblown. There are lots of steps in a lawsuit to stop "frivolous" suits, and many of the "frivolous" suits that get tossed around the news, when you actually examine them have some kind of solid basis.

I'm sure it happens, and there are certainly issues about an "innocent" person having to pay any lawyer fees, but the risk is pretty low.
7/15/08 7:23 PM
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Fake Pie
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I agree with the above.

Also, we read some stats in torts in law school that showed that most tort suits are actually under compensated. The ones that are usually over compensated are the really low claim ones: like you might get 2000 bucks for your 1000 claim because it isn't worth fighting and paying all those fees so you just pay the extra grand.

However, the really high damage cases tend to be under compensated.

It is also a perception issue. The media only latches on to the really "crazy" sounding cases and no one hears that they are dismissed. Or, like the McDonald's lady case, the media doesn't get into it enough for people to realize the case was actually meritorious (as that case was by all informed accounts I have heard).

For your second question, my understanding of judgments is that a court isn't going to take your residence or primary vehicle. They might attach a lien to them though.

As far as protecting assets, most of the things you can think of will be seen right through by a court. The shit that works is way over my head.
7/15/08 11:32 PM
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ViewType
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"how at-risk is the 'common person' of losing everything over meaningless torts and parasitic people who are 'playing lottery'?"

The common person doesn't have enough assets to bother suing them for "everything."
7/16/08 1:52 AM
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Cookie Monster
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most plaintiff lawyers, myself included, are absolutely NOT going to waste alot of time, resources, and energy on something we consider frivilous.
7/17/08 7:48 AM
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BarkLikeADog
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Yeah, read about the McDonald's coffee lawsuit in greater depth to get an idea of why your perception is probably flawed.

For the most part the only frivolities that are effective are harrassments (a la Scientology) & low-dollar settlement bids (e.g. slip & falls.)
7/18/08 2:31 PM
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Fake Pie
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I have seen some seriously BS "sexual harassment" cases. Even if the bitch was telling the truth, she quit and didn't work again for 10 years and got like 500K because she said the stress of being asked for sex gave her migraines for the rest of her life and so she couldn't work.

Luckily the award was reduced by statute. It was mostly punitive IIRC.
7/18/08 11:56 PM
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ViewType
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If it was mostly punitive, then what's the BS part?
7/19/08 2:04 AM
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BarkLikeADog
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^The validity of the case to begin with, presumably.
7/19/08 10:07 AM
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Fake Pie
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What BLAD said, plus I don't really remember if the big chunk was the punitive or the compensatory reward. In either case she got both and the whole thing was reduced.

If the big chunk was compensatory it was even worse. I agree it isn't as bad if it was punitive, but like BLAD said the merits of the case was crap to begin with IMHO.

I'll see if I can find her website.
12/25/08 11:19 PM
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GladiatorGannon
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Fake Pie - Or, like the McDonald's lady case, the media doesn't get into it enough for people to realize the case was actually meritorious (as that case was by all informed accounts I have heard).


maybe it was meritorious, but a $100,000,000 meritorious? were your "informed accounts" trial lawyers perchance?
12/25/08 11:28 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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Where TF did you pull that # from? Maybe you should actually read about the case?
12/26/08 12:07 AM
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GladiatorGannon
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BarkLikeADog - Where TF did you pull that # from? Maybe you should actually read about the case?


educate me please. my understanding was that the lawyer asked for "1 day" of revenue for Macdonalds to compensate her for the coffe burns, which =$112,000,000. reduced on appeal, but what was the final #?
12/26/08 12:17 AM
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BarkLikeADog
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From wikipedia:

Applying the principles of comparative negligence, the jury found that McDonald's was 80% responsible for the incident and Liebeck was 20% at fault. Though there was a warning on the coffee cup, the jury decided that the warning was neither large enough nor sufficient. They awarded Liebeck US$200,000 in compensatory damages, which was then reduced by 20% to $160,000. In addition, they awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages. The jurors apparently arrived at this figure from Morgan's suggestion to penalize McDonald's for one or two days worth of coffee revenues, which were about $1.35 million per day.[4]

The judge reduced punitive damages to $480,000, three times the compensatory amount, for a total of $640,000. The decision was appealed by both McDonald's and Liebeck in December 1994, but the parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount less than $600,000.[
12/26/08 1:07 AM
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GladiatorGannon
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Edited: 12/26/08 1:07 AM
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thanks BLD, i stand corrected. i must have confused it with some other case where someone asked for some outrageous amount of money. this is almost reasonable :)

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