Thursday, February 19, 2009

Personal Responsibility is not an issue...

A flummoxed Mayor Bloomberg yesterday said it was "incomprehensible" that a Manhattan jury awarded $2.3 million to a man who lost his leg under a subway train after falling drunk onto the tracks.

"Sometimes, juries do things that you find a little incomprehensible," said Bloomberg, responding to The Post's front-page story about 25-year-old Dustin Dibble, of Brooklyn.

"I wasn't sitting in the courtroom. I wasn't on the jury. But on the face of it, you'd think there's a personal responsibility here," said the mayor. "And I think a lot of us should be a little more responsible for our own behavior."
Hizzonor needs to get out more. This type of verdict comes out every single day (mostly in Brooklyn and Bronx Counties...which is where all the plaintiff lawyers file regardless of the location of the incident due to plaintiff friendly jurors and Judges).

The thing is usually the insurance carrier that gets dinged. As a result of these outlandish "sticking it to the man" type deliberations, most carriers, and corporations holding a sizeable self-insured retention will end up settling a claim for significant money regardless of liability due to the potential for renegade (consistently pro-plaintiff) juries in these venues. That way, they save court costs, and the always present Sword of Damocles potential of some whacked out pain and suffering award that would exhaust the limits and, also, ding the excess coverage.

Here's a dirty little secret about NY filed Summons & Complaints. Rarely is one filed by a plaintiff attorney that doesn demand an award of at least seven figures regardless of the incident or the severity of the alleged injuries...most times more.

New York reformed their "Joint and Several" liability position a while back. Therefore, in order for this drunk troglodyte to have collected this $2.3 Million award, the MTA would have had to have been found over 50% liable. They were found 65% liable...while the passed out moron who fell off the platform onto the tracks (and cannot remember anything about how he got there) was only found to be 35% liable.

Even so...these cases are daily in New York. They are daily in Cook County Illinois, Metarie, LA, Philadelphia County PA, Palm Beach County FL...The list is long and indistinguished. Interestingly, there is always a correlation between the creativity of juries and the southward turn of the economy.

I would say that these juries are cutting their own throats with such verdicts since insurance carriers pass on these losses to their policy holders, and the MTA passes it onto straphangers. However, when you see statitics such as Philadelphia estimating over 70% of the vehicles on the road are uninsured (illegal by the way in PA)...these folks don't care, and rarely make the connection to their own wallets anyway. That, also, would require personal responsibility...which is sorely lacking all over the spectrum.