"The case is the poster child for those trumpeting 'out of control' jury verdicts. The $2.9 million Cup of Coffee: When the Verdict is Just a Fantasy. N.Y. Times, June 6, 1999. McDonald's had received over 700 complaints regarding burns relating to coffee but continued to keep its coffee 45 to 65 degrees hotter than other restaurants. Tort and Retort: The Battle Over Reform Heats Up, Washington Post, March 6, 1995. The plaintiff, Mrs. Liebeck, was awarded $160,000 in compensatory damages for third degree burns over her private region that required eight days of hospitalization and skin grafting. The jury assessed 2.7 million dollars in punitive damages against McDonald representing two days of profits of its coffee sales. The trial court later reduced the punitive damages award to $480,000." Voir Dire, Volume 1, Issue 8, December 2010, Strittmater Kessler Whelan Coluccio.
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A Pierce County jury decided last Friday the State was negligent in the death of a 2 year old boy who walked away from a state-licensed day care and drowned in Lake Tapps approximately four years ago. Jurors awarded $11.7 million dollars in damages to the parents and estate of Gabriel Tobin. The parents sued the state and several employees of the Department of Social and Health Services in October 2006, alleging they were liable for gross negligence in the boy's death.
Allstate has settled a Pierce County Superior Court class action lawsuit wherein the national insurance company has agreed to make $23 million available to class members, relating to how Allstate addressed claims that vehicles lose value after they have been involved in an accident, even if the vehicle is properly repaired. The plaintiffs argued that Allstate had not properly addressed diminished value in UIM/UM claims. More information on this resolution may be found at: http//www.laughlinsettlement.com/faq.php3.
It has been said that the central controversy between Islam and Christianity has to do with the distancing or otherwise between the human and the divine. It is this which pervades revelation, prophetic vocation, the ways of divine mercy, the categories of law and love, and the question of Jesus and the Cross. (Bishop Kenneth Cragg, A Muslim and Christian in Dialogue, ISBN 0-8361-9052-1). Perhaps we have mutual experiences which we identify by different names, and it is in the exploration of this commonality and not the stiff-necked, stereotypical methods by which we identify others that will prove the most fertile ground for peace. Are we in a religious and cultural war, or is it possible that we do not know one another at all?
Last week a Spokane Superior Court jury awarded a plaintiff $10 million in non-economic damages (pain, suffering, disfigurement, and past and future loss of enjoyment of life) when it found a dentist had performed a series of aggressive jaw surgeries in 2001 and 2001. Read the Spokesman Review article.
How can we value the loss of enjoyment of life? How can attorneys best express to juries what it means to this individual that their life is irreparably harmed by the negligence of another? How can attorneys best position the thinking of the individual juror so that they might understand what the plaintiff has experienced?