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Who wants to be sued? I don’t. I doubt most people would. Why would they?

On the other hand, if you’re the one doing the suing, the plaintiff, than perhaps lawsuits aren’t all bad. They offer people a legal remedy by which they can pursue restitution or a sense of justice or closure or in some cases punitive action.

“A civil suit is a lawsuit whereby the plaintiff claims that the defendant’s actions or negligence caused damages (losses and/or suffering)… If a defendant is found guilty in a civil suit, they are typically required to pay restitution to the aggrieved plaintiff…In some cases, where the wrongdoing was intentional or malicious, the court may also order punitive damages. Punitive damages in a civil suit are intended to punish the defendant and deter them and others from committing similar acts in the future.”

After a year (1995) of televised circus-like trial in which O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murdering his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, her family, not surprisingly, did not feel justice had been served. So in 1997 the family, along with the family of her murdered friend Ron Goldman, brought civil suits against Simpson, ultimately winning a $33.5 million “wrongful death” judgment.

Did this judgment bring Ms. Brown or Mr. Goldman back? Of course not. Did it heal the Brown or Goldman families’ pain? Probably not. But it did give them some sense of accountability and justice served.

In 2001, lawsuits were filed in the United States against priests of the Catholic Church who were said to have sexually abused victims, now men, when they were children. Suggestions of such charges had surfaced in the 1980s, but in the 2000s they reached well over ten thousand victims and nearly five thousand priests worldwide. Ultimately, the Catholic Church has paid approximately $1.3 billion in damages related to sexual abuse by priests.

Did this money remove victims’ pain? I doubt it. Did it hold priest pedophiles accountable? Not really, for the most part. It did force the Vatican to reexamine and reorder certain practices and policies that will, hopefully, reduce the likelihood of this kind of thing happening (as extensively) in the future.

Lawsuits and trial attorneys get a bad rap and likely some of them deserve it. Certainly we live in an overly litigious society and tort reform is needed. But not all lawsuits, like not all trial attorneys, are about greed and avarice. When civil suits are properly pursued and administered they serve to remind society that truth and justice matter.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

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