Archive for May, 2008

Seat Belt Recall

May 4, 2008

Toyota Motor Corp. has recalled 90,189 Highlander SUV’s because third-row seat belts may not lock in some child-safety seats.  So far, there have been no complaints of injuries as a result of the defect, but what if there had been?

The U. S. Chamber of Commerce talks about frivilous lawsuits and the need for extreme tort reform measures.  Those measures infringe upon the rights of individuals who are seriously injured or killed as a result of defects such as these.  Had one of these seat belts malfunctioned and led to the death of a child, shouldn’t Toyota be held responsible?  Toyota wouldn’t be responsible because they intended to kill someone, but our laws say that if you put a product into the stream of commerce and that product is defective, you are liable for the damages you cause.  That’s not frivilous.  THAT’S THE LAW!!!!

Take Another One Away

May 2, 2008

Well, another judge has taken away a jury verdict.  Where’s the outrage?  The whole point of juries is for twelve individuals to come together to make a unified decision.  Instead, Circuit Judge William Gordon has decided that the twelve individuals who heard the Ray Keller v. NCAA case in Jackson County were wrong.  Instead, Judge Gordon decided that those twelve people decided the case based upon passion and prejudice, not the law and the instructions which Judge Gordon read to the jury.

How is Judge Gordon qualified to decide what was in the head of the twelve jurors without interviewing each and every one of them?  Aren’t we supposed to assume that the jurors can understand the instructions as given and apply the law to the facts which were presented in trial?  Passion?  Prejudice? Those are subjective elements which could be argued are involved in every case.  But, Judge Gordon surely instructed the jury that sympathy, passion, and prejudice are factors which are not to be considered in their decision.  Consequently, how can he determine that they were factors in their decision?

The jury decided that the NCAA owed Keller five million dollars, two million compensatory and three million in punitive damages.  Who are our judges to decide that the twelve jurors are wrong when the judge is the one who instructs the jurors in the first place?  However, this story is not over.  Keller and his attorney, Archie Lamb, will most certainly appeal Judge Gordon’s decision, and maybe the Supreme Court of Alabama will see fit to side with what our founding fathers wanted:  twelve individuals coming together as one to make a sound, unanimous decision.

We constantly hear about tort reform and runaway juries.  Which is more troubling:  a “runaway” jury of twelve individuals coming to a unanimous decision or one individual making his own decision?  Who is more likely to be influenced by outside sources:  twelve individuals or one person?  The answer is clear which is why our founding fathers left these decisions to twelve jurors.


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