I believe that everyone has heard of the case of the gentleman suing a dry cleaner for in excess of 50 million dollars for losing his pants. Every news organization is broadcasting that the case was dismissed and arguing that cases like these are the reason we need tort reform. However, the system did what it is supposed to i.e. dismissed a meritlous case. Look, every profession has members that do not represent the norm. I am sure we have all had the pleasure to encounter people in other professions that are dishonest and the legal profession is no different however most attorneys are ethical. I think we all agree that the case should of been dismissed yet it should not be used to reflect on the profession as a whole.
It is remarkable is that tort reformers are using this case to preach the need for change. I find this bizaree as the system in this case worked and the case was dismissed. I could see preaching reform if the Plaintiff won however not when the case was dismissed. Anyone in this country has a right to represent themselves and that is what this individual did in the pants case. It is for the system to tell the individual that he had no case and that is exactly what was done here. It was an unfortunate expereince for the dry cleaner however we are all presented with unfortunate situations and at least in this one the dry cleaner came out unscathed.
In addition, comparing the pants case to the McDonald’s case several years ago is like comparing apples to oranges. The Plaintiff in McDonald’s received punative damages i.e. not damages for the injury but rather damages to punish McDonald’s for improper business practices. In that case McDonald’s was found to be buying cheap coffee and super heating it to save money however we do not hear this fact on any news station.
Speaking from expereince very few Plaintiff’s receive windfalls at least not in the New York courts. The cases are well defended and take years to resolve. I would ask the public to ignore the rhetoric regarding the pants case and tort reform. I can tell you one thing even if tort reform was instituted you would not see lower insurance premiums but rather the insurance companies would make more money – it would be no different than gas – corporations in this country make the money not the individual.