Justinian Lane

Should parents be allowed to recover pain & suffering for the loss of a child?

Thankfully, many jurisdictions answer that question affirmatively.  Here's a little op-ed explaining the evolution of the law in Texas:

It has been only a week since two boys, one 4 and one 10, were crushed to death and a third injured when a staircase collapsed on top of them at their apartment building in southwest Houston.

Already a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of one of the families. The haste is unseemly even to some plaintiff's lawyers, but the lawyers who filed the suit claimed they needed to in order to keep the apartment owners from repairing the stairwell and thereby destroying evidence.

It wasn't so long ago that lawyers wouldn't have been rushing to sign up a case like this.

To put it brutally — as did the law in Texas and many other states — dead children weren't worth very much.


Fear of successful lawsuits is a very useful deterrent for egregiously bad maintenance by landlords.  [And a deterrent that "reformers" want to take away. - JCL]

Source: Court: $15K for folks of drowned boy was too rich | - Houston Chronicle

Justinian Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 10:56 AM, Jul 23, 2008 in Civil Justice
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In a word: "No"

Grief is not quantifiable and it is an insult to the memory of the dead to even attempt to do so. Any economic damages attribtable to the death, such as funeral and burial expenses should be recoverable, but the idea that a couple should be financially set up for life because their little boy or girl was killed is, at best ghoulish and at worst obscene

Terribly obscene

Posted by: Avenger | July 23, 2008 8:58 PM

So Osama Bin Laden shouldn't have to pay anything to the families of those he murdered? And OJ Simpson shouldn't have had to pay anything either?

Posted by: Justinian Lane | July 24, 2008 12:11 AM

To both - they should pay economic damages and, if convicted of the crimes of which they are accused, serve prison time, or perhaps be sentenced to die

No one is saying they (OJ and Osama)should get away without punishment BUT it is the criminal justice system that should deal out punishment, not the civil justice system. Using the civil justice system to deal out punishment is offensive to the notion of justice since the beyond a reasonable doubt standard is discarded in the civil justice system.

I do understand, though, that trial lawyer fronts are not concerned with justice - only money

Posted by: Avenger | July 24, 2008 12:25 AM

Justice - like OJ got? (sigh)

Do you complain about corporate front groups, or are you just another lawyer-hater?

Posted by: Justinian Lane | July 24, 2008 12:49 AM

So you concede that this is a trial lawyer front ?

I am not wild about disinformation campaigns, whatever the source. I also think anyone who thinks that the tort system doesn't need some reforms (in both directions) is either naive or dishonest - there are many changes needed.

Most of my friends are attorneys. Admittedly only a few of them are ambulance chasers

Posted by: Avenger | July 24, 2008 6:47 AM

Avenger: Welcome to Pravda. Sure. The Soviets invented lipstick and Coca-Cola.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | July 24, 2008 8:55 AM

This is about as far from a trial lawyer front as you can get. Click the little buttons about DMI and come to your own conclusion. And if you're really looking for front groups, check out the various legal "reform" groups sponsored by big tobacco.

You've already said that we should eliminate pain & suffering damages for deaths. OK, what "reform" would you suggest that works for the benefit of plaintiffs?

Posted by: Justinian Lane | July 24, 2008 10:35 AM

1) a huge dollar increase in the size of claims that can be pursued in small claims court - perhaps $25K

2) transparency in disciplinary proceedings involving attorneys - the fiduciary reponsiblity of attorneys to their clients cannot be overstated - any attorney who stels from a client or fails to present settlement offers to a client should be disbarred - period

3) Loser pays to work in both directions - expert expenses , etc to be paid to a winning plaintiff

Posted by: Avenger | July 24, 2008 2:03 PM

Justinian needs a full time truth squad. This site is a front for the worst scum of the earth, dirtbag, parrot wearing land pirates in the land.

In a corrupt, pro-plaintiff jurisdiction, the bought off judges, and the lowlife juries will always decide for their low life neighbor plaintiffs. The paid off judges will steer trials that way. Defendants have not liked the loser pays idea, not even doctors who win 75% of verdicts.

All of torts is a bunco operation transferring money from working people to the land pirates running the world's most powerful criminal syndicate.

The sole valid tort reform is to end all corrupt, self-dealt immunities of lawyers and of their running dogs on the bench, dependent on the cult criminals on both sides for campaign contributions. Then pass lawyer control laws forbidding their sitting on any bench, legislative seat, or policy position in the executive branch. The felon is now excluded, yet the felon does less damage to our nation than the lawyer.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | July 24, 2008 2:25 PM

A full time truth squad? SC, are you channelling you-know-who? :)

Avenger, I'm in agreement with you on point 2 about disbarment for those attorneys who breach their duty. Things already are pretty transparent though: I think you can search for disciplinary records on attorneys in all states.

As for point 1, I'll go one better: Parties in small claims court shouldn't be allowed to have attorneys. I've seen what happens when one party has an attorney and one doesn't in small claims court: It turns into a procedural beatdown for the unrepresented party. Of course, I have no idea on how to make this idea work when a party is a corporation, since corporations can't represent themselves because of unauthorized practice of law laws.

I disagree on point 3 because it will discourage too many meritorious lawsuits. Assume you have a claim for $25k in damages. If you win, you get $25k. But if you lose, you might have to pay $100k in damages. "Betting" $100k to win $25k isn't a sound investment. I suspect that if we had adopted loser pays, none of the original asbestos suits would have gone forward, and the asbestos manufacturers would have gotten away with their coverup.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | July 24, 2008 3:08 PM

In Florida the trap in small claims court, if the other other side is represented, is to object immediately if the other side's attorney moves to adopt the Rules of Civil Procedure. If you don't object then you have lost - if you do object (and know to object) then the other side may as well scrap their attorney.

I think the criminal justice system should do a better job of policing bad behavior, be it individual or corporate. Government fines, jail time - Yes. Bogus class actions with virtally all the proceeds going to attorneys - NO

If Asbestos is your justification for the current system, then it is a pretty poor argument. Although the asbestos litigation made many attorneys a lot of money, it delivered much of the remaining money to the less deserving "victims" while making it nearly impossible for those truly injured to be properly compensated.

Posted by: Avenger | July 24, 2008 7:16 PM


But come on, Justinian. Embrace and be proud of your inner land pirate and the job your puppet masters do.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | July 24, 2008 7:17 PM

Come on, SC. You should know me well enough to know I'll never have any puppet masters. My dislike of authority and "the man" is part of why I'm going to be a plaintiff's attorney.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | July 24, 2008 8:25 PM

Come on, yourself. You are subject to topnotch indoctrination. It is so good, you do not even recognize they made you believe in supernatural doctrines that violate the Constitution of this secular nation. It is so good, you do not even know it has taken place.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | July 24, 2008 8:53 PM

First of all, that's a sad event and my heart goes out to their parents. But I don't think that there is a goolish quality to wanting compensation for their loss. I've heard stories of people turning around, taking the judgment and applying it to a worthy cause. It's an emotional compensation in memory of their loss.

Posted by: Ajlouny | October 18, 2008 8:48 PM