Only the big verdicts make the front page. In today’s Birmingham News (April 4, 2008), there is a side article in Section C (Money) which discusses some Birmingham lawyers who handled a Ford case in Rockingham, North Carolina. The story was basically a public relations story for Huie, Fernambucq & Stewart LLP and its attorneys, Alan Thomas and Gordon Sproule.
The case involved products liability claims against Ford Motor Company for stability defects in a Ford Explorer Sport and defective seat belts in an F-250. As a result of the alleged defects, William Lynthacum and Randy Shannon were killed. The Plaintiffs sought $19 million in damages as a result of the defects.
The verdict? According to the News, “[t]he 12-member jury found both vehicles safe and non-defective after two hours of deliberation.” Why isn’t this on the front page? If the jury had given $19 million, it would have made front page news. Why is it news when it’s a big verdict, but it’s not news when it’s a defense verdict? Which is more newsworthy: (1) that a jury didn’t compensate the estates of two dead individuals, or (2) that a jury gave an award of $19 million against a large corporation?
Clearly, newspapers are big business, and therefore, they seem inclined to go with the tort reform flow. This type of reporting shows how skewed the news is and the propaganda which is put out by tort reformers, big business, and insurance companies. Consequently, when a jury renders a defense verdict such as this, it’s not put out to the masses, and tort reformers don’t come out to discuss the defense verdict. I wonder what would have happened had it been reversed?