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    26 Replies Latest reply on Apr 7, 2008 7:48 PM by DomainDiva

    Sue or not to Sue ???

    The Expert Adventurer
      Some one once said that 70% of all the lawyers in the world live in the US and 90% of the court cases happen in the US
      Imagine the amount of money we all spend becuase of the fear of being sued.
      Is it time we, the small business community made an individual pledge ' that I will not sue another person - rather will try to resolve our conflict with a hand shake ?
      Would love to know what you think about this.
        • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Good Question, Sue or not to Sue
          First you have to answer 3 questions
          Do you have a good case??
          If you win, Will they pay??
          Is there any alternate available apart from suing??

          Hope you have a good Lawyer, LUCKIEST
            • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
              The Expert Adventurer
              Look at it from another perspective. If we all resolved the issue amicably, and if that was the 'way of life' rather than going to the lawyers, wouldnt this world be a better place ?
              Has the pendulum swung out too far ?
              If you look at the 'big picture', money is not everything
              Isnt having 'peace of mind' more important ?
            • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
              dublincpa Scout
              Men and women like us are too busy either trying to keep the ship afloat or spending time on this message board staying out of trouble. It's kinda like an after school program that way.

              No factual basis for this assessment, but I don't think that we are the ones out there initiating lawsuits. I bet that if you look, it would be mainly big companies trying to keep what they've got from upstarts and other juggernauts and individuals trying to right some alleged wrong. High incedents of divorce and incarceration probably play a role in the number of cases too.

              I have to say though that I am not a big fan of tort reform. I firmly believe that big companies make decisions based on money knowing that their products have x.y% chance of causing harm. Without the threat of a multibazillion dollar lawsuit to balance the equation, I firmly believe that there will be more lead tainted materials and goodness knows what else. Alar and asbestos might make a comeback too. They must be cheap from low demand.

              Because of the performance demanded by shareholders, the distance of decision makers from the customer base and the ever more competitive nature of business, I believe that these big entities don't think like we do. If we know of a product defect, we fix it or scrap it. We don't decide that some level of casualty is economically acceptable.

              That is my two cents. I know descend from my soapbox.
                • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                  dublincpa Scout
                  Boy, my grammar and spelling are bad this early.
                  • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                    The Expert Adventurer
                    Hmm, interesting point of view.
                    But what about the person who trips and falls down on your drive way. Or the famous McDonald Coffee spill case- we are seeing more and more of this kind of court cases.

                    Imagine all the money we would save if we did not have to have Liability insurance - At times I wish we lived in the era of 'House on the Prairie"

                    And dont forget the number of times people decided NOT to volunteer - due to the fear of a court case -

                    When I was growing up, we took turns in cleaning our own class room. The other day I was talking to a teacher, the schools are scared of getting sued if a child hurts him/ herself, Therefore they have Janitors do the cleaning. One Janitor told me that children are very irresponsible, and dont bother to use trash cans becuase they do not clean the classrooms them selves - This is just one instance we as a country are going to loose. I am sure we all can think of instances like this

                    So what if we, the small business community got together and tell the rest of the world - that we will no longer sue each other...

                    I strongly believe the world will be a better place...
                      • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                        dublincpa Scout
                        I hear ya. I think that is the case after which the Stella awards were named. I do have to mention that the damages in that case were reduced to ridiculous down from obscenely ludacrious. A big part of the problem is the juries. I don't know how to address that. Twelve people who I am sure are rational in their daily lives agreed to the judgement. Who knows what they would have to have paid if she spilled it driving and hurt someone in an accident. Would Chevy have been a codefendant for who knows what reason - insuffcient cupholders?

                        Now I am sure that the golden arches suit was paid out of a corporate reserve, but most lawsuits are paid by insurance and I would guess that the majority get settled at or near the limit of the insurance policy. One thing I have wondered is if there is a way to regulate insurance payouts.

                        Another thought that I have always had is that actual damages (financial, physical, emotional etc) go to the plaintiff. Punitive damages would go either to a charity designated by the plaintiff or to the state to be spent on education, health, safety etc. or underfunded pension obligations in Illinois.

                        Oh yeah, the lawyers would get either nothing or a small fraction of punitive damages. Do you hear that? It is the sound of half of lawsuits being dropped. Social Security regulates what attorneys can take from benefits won. I think its 25%. That's too high for punitive damages, but it is out there.

                        Ok, I guess that I am in favor of tort reform, but only the kind I agree with. : )
                          • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                            Iwrite Pioneer
                            The amount of the Golden Arches suit was reduced not throw out completely because the coffee was way hotter than company policy. The manager was attempting to please customers who claimed the coffee was cold by the time they got to work. Never mind that microwaves were in wide use at the time. It was a joke to many but I have seen employees take it upon themselves to go beyond specs with horrible results for the customer and themselves.

                            I also do not believe companies big or small would behave responsibly without some form of threat of punishment. Look at how many drugs have been placed on the market recently only to be recalled because of known effects, but the company figured they could make so much money before they had to pull it off the shelf.

                            Trust the state to spend on "education, health, safety etc.?" Yeah, right.

                            I'm not a big fan of suing but I think it is necessary.
                      • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                        Symphony Wayfarer
                        It would be great if the world we lived in could get along by handshakes and having our word as our bond. Unfortunately, a lot of people aren't privileged to be raised in an environment that believes in these principles. A lot depends on the situation as to whether one should sue or not. For example, if a hospital gives a patient the wrong kind of blood that is not their blood type and the patient dies, do you do nothing and let them possibly do it again. I believe it totally depends on the situation.
                        • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                          Lighthouse24 Ranger

                          Isn't litigation America's number one growth industry? I'm afraid if people quit suing each other, our entire economy might collapse (I'm writing that tongue-in-cheek).

                          Seriously, though, it's unrealistic for me to pledge not to sue anyone. I am a strong advocate of talking one-to-one first (as "a way of life" as you put it), because I believe most situations that turn into lawsuits for small businesses could be avoided if there was just better direct communication between the parties involved. That said, however, my business has valuable assets, and there will always be people who try to steal or misuse those assets. It's my job to protect the vested interests of my employees, customers, investors, and suppliers. So unless we revert back to the way rustlers were dealt with in the Old West, I'll have to rely on lawsuits when a "friendly chat" doesn't work.

                          I agree with dublincpa that a lot of the problem is juries. I get summoned for jury duty frequently, yet I rarely get selected for a panel. The reason (I think) is that plaintiff's attorneys can easily find six or twelve other people who are much more willing than I am to feel sorry for their clients and blame somebody else.

                          You mentioned the occasional desire to return to the Little House on the Prairie days. In that era, you might survive if you worked hard, helped your neighbors, and they helped you -- but then again, you might do everything right and die anyway. All you got was a chance, with no guarantees. A lot of small business owners today have that same pioneering spirit, but I'm not sure the average American citizen does. A lot of people seem to expect guarantees, and if things don't work out, it has to be someone's fault (other than theirs). I think that's where the root cause of this (and perhaps many other social and economic problems) lies.

                            • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                              Wingman Adventurer
                              Lighthouse, I think you hit on one of the problems with society today. Many children and adults feel they are somehow 'entitled' to material and monetary rewards just because they are around.

                              There are way too many people out there who look for ways to get easy money and will stop at nothing. I've had employees who left for full time jobs but still fill for unemployment and Section 8 housing allowances. I may be out in left field with my thinking but if someone is working full-time, how can they also file for/collect unemployment payments. Just doesn't sit right with me.

                              As far as suing other people, I agree that there are times when it is appropriate but there are too many instances of people suing for what I think are rediculous reasons (the McDonald's coffee suit for one). What ever happened to people taking responsibility for their own actions. If you do something dumb, you deal with it on your own and not try to find someone else to pin the blame on.

                              I'm getting off my high horse now. Blood pressure returning to normal....
                                • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                  The Expert Adventurer

                                  Reading between the lines, most of you agree that there are lots of people that think that they are entitled to sue some one and that it is always some one else's fault.

                                  My point is that how do we reverse the trend.

                                  We have to start some where. And then hopefully more and more people will realize that talking together and resolving issues is a lot better than sueing one another and living in fear of being sued

                                  Wouldnt you agree.

                                  If WE the people dont do anything, it is WE the people that are going to suffer...
                                    • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                      LUCKIEST Guide
                                      Sue or not to Sue, There is only one answer.

                                      • +"The first thing
                                      we do, let's kill all the lawyers"+.*
                                      Rueful, mocking, it often
                                      expresses the ordinary person's frustration with the arcana and
                                      complexity of law.
                                      Sometimes it's known that the saying comes
                                      from one of Shakespeare's plays.

                                      Not my suggestion, LUCKIEST
                                        • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                          The Expert Adventurer
                                          Seriously though we HAVE to do something.

                                          Can we individually make a pledge that we will not participate in ridiculous law suits - No need to tell the whole world about it - just make an individual pledge.

                                          And also try to reolve conflicts by talking to one another.
                                            • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                              Lighthouse24 Ranger
                                              You may be "preaching to the choir" here. Lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming, and not the least bit fun. For a small business, they can be a huge (nearly overwhelming) distraction, so it's not something any of us want to do unless we have to. I've met and spoken with thousands of legitimate business owners over the years, and I can't think of a single one who ever filed a lawsuit before other possible options were exhausted (though I can think of several who had to defend against ridiculous claims -- but then you can't simply choose to "not participate" if you're the defendant).

                                              Have you posted this message in other social networks? Again, it seems to me that the most potent catalyst for change are the people who vote for legislators and who sit on juries.
                                        • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                          The Expert Adventurer
                                          It will increase the number of businesses who will like to work with us.
                                      • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                        LUCKIEST Guide
                                        Sue or not to Sue, Today New York Times, Business Section
                                        "The Foreclosure Machine" An industry (Lawyers) Thrives on Housing Woes.
                                        An army of law firms who represent mortgage lenders, have been
                                        raking in mounting profits. They get paid by the volume.
                                        Again LUCKIEST
                                          • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                            The Expert Adventurer
                                            If we are to be saved as a nation, do you think it is time we created a grass root movement - individuals who pledge not to join unfair class action suites or sue others. And if this becomes a large segment of the population vow only to do business with like minded individuals ?
                                          • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                            amspcs Ranger
                                            Many years ago I was told by a very wise person: When two entities sue each other, there is only
                                            one winner...the attorney. My observations and experience over the years confirm that this is oh so true.

                                            Unfortunately and regrettably, litigation is extremely expensive, completely out of the question for most small businesses.This is particularly so when a small business finds itself up against a larger business because in this case, justice has nothing remotely to do with either the law or what or who is 'right'...it has everything to do with which side has the largest 'war chest' and can out-legal-expense the other. I realize this is a very sad commentary on our society and legal system, but it is absolutely the case.

                                            As a small businessperson, I am seriously looking into pre-paid legal services to handle any future legal issues that might arise. . Anybody have any stories or experiences to share about pre-paid? I am very curious to find out if worthwhile or not.

                                            BG
                                            www.MerchantServices-help.com
                                              • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                                The Expert Adventurer

                                                Would you, as a small business owner be interested in joining a grass root level movement - where you pledge not to join unnecessary, unrealistic class action law suites and not to initiate individual law suites of the same kind ?

                                                We HAVE to do something soon - this issue is eating our country alive...
                                                  • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                                    amspcs Ranger
                                                    I think I'd be interested in a movement that reforms the entire joke of a legal system. Granted our system
                                                    is probably superior to anything else out there in the world ,but's its far far far from perfect. Gotten to the point that justice is not for everyone, just for those who can afford it. Don't believe me?...just ask OJ. Greedy lawyers, disinterested judges, lots of fault to spread around. Has anybody noticed that half the legal 'stuff' out there...laws, requirements, procedures, etc...is all made BY lawyers for the benefit of...you guessed it, lawyers...so they can have lots of work to do for which they can charge mega-bucks per hour?
                                                      • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                                        Iwrite Pioneer
                                                        You left out the politicians. Please don't forget them.

                                                        But lets be honest, most large companies are no better than the lawyers and politicians. How many business scandals does it take before we admit that our system is sick? And most of us are modeling our business practices after whom? How can anyone expect to be different when you model your business after the companies we complain about?

                                                        Ethics and morals are things to be studied instead of practiced and lived.

                                                        And to all those using the McDonald's case as an example of a broken system, please get the facts. This was not a frivolous lawsuit. Check it out here: www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm or here www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald's_coffee_case or here www.library.findlaw.com/1999/Nov/1/129862.html

                                                        I think it is brave and admirable to want to trust man to do the right thing without being forced but we haven't shown ourselves mature enough for this to be our reality.
                                                          • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                                            Lighthouse24 Ranger

                                                            Ah, there's the issue . . . determining the "right" thing. In the McDonald's coffee case:

                                                            • Many people believed that the big company did the wrong thing, and that justice was served when the jury awarded Ms. Liebeck $2.86 million.

                                                            • Others believed that it was not McDonald's fault -- since the coffee that was allegedly "too hot" was actually 16 degrees cooler than the coffee dispensed by the brand of home coffee maker that sits in the kitchens of 157 million American homes, and since McDonald's had nothing to do with Ms. Liebeck's decision to take the lid off the cup of hot coffee to add cream and sugar while holding it between her knees in a motor vehicle.

                                                            • Still others might have been inclined to not only dismiss the suit against McDonald's, but also to criminally indict the grandson (after all, what kind of person lets his 79-year-old grandmother sit in the passenger seat of his car with a cup of hot coffee between her knees trying to add cream and sugar to it by herself?).

                                                            The significant thing is the way jurors explained their rationale for awarding punitive damages ($2.7 million of the total): "McDonald's can afford it." That makes it seem like the prevailing morality in this case -- i.e., the "right" thing -- was based on resentment ("let's stick it to anybody who has more than we do"), rather than justice. Presumably, that's why the amount was reduced by the judge, appealed, and then eventually settled.

                                                    • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                                      Blujuju Newbie
                                                      I LOVE this forum. Pragmatism meets Idealism. Of course we need tort reform. McDonald's case is a great example of the complexity though. You have to ask yourself if you were "injured" and you knew that you could legally take enough money to retire on as a result, would you really walk away? I don't think just asking everyone to play nice w/ that potential in place just won't work.

                                                      That case hurt a corporation that never should have been hit as hard as it was. But where we really need reform is in Family Law and no one is talking about it because it's policitally incorrect to do so. With divorce rates as high as they are nearly all of us have been damaged in one way or another by a system that is not interested in the "family" and is only interested in transfering wealth from one person to another according to their agenda. But that's another forum, I'm sure!
                                                      • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                                        DomainDiva Ranger
                                                        A pledge NOT TO SUE?????

                                                        I will agree with the commenters that have singled out the 'tort idiocy'. But a blanket agreement not to sue? No. Never.

                                                        If it had not been for my attorney, we would have lost a pice of property in a limited partnership when the limited partner got completely crazy on us. If it had NOT been for our attorney we would have ended up in court in a huge lawsuit.

                                                        There are some things that cannot be solved with a handshake, and SHOULD NOT be solved with a handshake.
                                                          • Re: Sue or not to Sue ???
                                                            The Expert Adventurer
                                                            Since trying to get politicians to take over 'tort reform' is a lost cause, what do you think will be the alternative.
                                                            Isnt it time WE the people, started behaving like adults.
                                                            Is there anything we can do together to make this happen
                                                            Any suggestions ?
                                                            Think how wonderful life would be if we could go back to the days of 'House on the Praire".... Where a hand shake and a person's word carried more weight than signed legal documents.