Tort law: common sense need not apply


Overlawyered has a sobering post about the state of tort law in Mississippi. Not surprisingly, it’s anything but pretty:

“19-year-old Sidney Odom happily went along when 20-year-old Travis Kirby and 18-year-old Riley Strickland asked “Who wants to go to the Beacon?”—a bar in Terry, Mississippi. A long night of drinking and driving came to an end at about 3 am when Kirby’s Camaro hit a tree at about 90 mph. As none of the three were wearing seatbelts, all were ejected from the vehicle. Kirby, whose blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit at 0.25%, died at the scene; the other two were injured.”

The Coyote Blog adds some cogent commentary:

“Think for a moment about who you reasonably believe to be at fault for the accident.  Now, here is who actually was forced to accept liability:

  • The dealer who sold them the car
  • The shop that installed their tires
  • Goodyear tire company

“All you can say is, huh?  When looking at modern tort outcomes, a much better predictor of legally assigned liability than trying to decide who was truly at fault is to look at the net worth of everyone who had any relation to the victims, and assuming those with the highest net worth will end up being held ‘liable.'”

According to Overlawyered, “The car seller settled for about half a million dollars; a Copiah County jury found the other defendants liable for an additional $2.1 million. Goodyear appealed, complaining about various prejudicial statements made by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, such as introducing evidence from other lawsuits about other types of tires, but the Mississippi state appellate court affirmed.”

Somehow, one images that, say, five years from now the plaintiffs will have long since blown through whatever money they received as their part of the settlement (after deducting for attorney’s fees, of course), while the lawyers involved will have long since moved on to other similarly outlandish cases and will be continuing to line their pockets while making a mockery of common sense and responsibility.

(Hat tip: The Coyote Blog)


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