If only the woman had listened to one of the myriad of public service announcements imploring cell phone users that when it comes to texting, “It can wait!”
Perhaps then our court system would not have been required to impanel a jury to hear this ridiculous case. But no, DeToya Moody of Georgia walked into a ladder that was clearly visible to everyone around her – and which even had the familiar orange warning cones around it.
So, of course, she did what too many Americans do these days. She sued. She may have missed or ignored the type of public service announcements mentioned above, but she likely hasn’t missed the countless ads for personal injury lawyers that seem to air nonstop on television today.
A summary of the case was recently published in a Georgia legal publication. As you can read there, the woman hit her head on the bright orange ladder of a bucket-truck lift that had been lowered across a sidewalk by a crew doing some work in the area. She hit her head because her eyes were glued to her cell phone.
In court, the jury had to decide how much responsibility the woman had for her injury considering the fact that she wasn’t looking where she was going. Surprisingly, the jury wound up saying she was only 8 percent responsible and awarded her one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars.
It’s a wonder that the jury didn’t assign a portion of the blame to the cell phone service provider, too. Certainly, if she hadn’t had the ability to conveniently send and receive texts while she was walking, she wouldn’t have walked into the ladder. Or how about the cell phone manufacturer? No cell phone, no distraction, and the woman avoids the ladder.
The list of those who are potentially responsible for the woman’s injury — other than the woman herself — could go on and on, but we wouldn’t want to put any ideas into the head of the lawyer who sued on behalf of Ms. Moody.
Speaking of the lawyer, he is quoted as saying he had “no idea where the 8 percent figure came from.” Join the club, counselor.
As if that wasn’t enough, the jury even awarded his client more than he requested, too. In fact, it was 7 times more than the cost of her medical expenses! All for walking into something that was in plain sight.
Jury verdicts like this are distressing because there seems to be no rhyme or reason to them. Why didn’t the jury award the woman a million dollars? Or ten million dollars? The courts have become a type of lottery. Pull the lever on a lawsuit and see how much you can win.
In the meantime, those who are sued have to ante up thousands of dollars to defend themselves, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. If they lose, they have to bite the bullet and pay up, or they roll the dice – we might as well stick with the gambling theme – and appeal the verdict to a higher court.
So that’s the point we’ve reached in America. A system of jackpot justice that seems to determine prizes based on where a lawsuit is filed and what kind of jury a plaintiff is “lucky” enough to draw.
Unfortunately, for anyone who’s looking for personal responsibility in the court system today, the odds seem stacked against you.
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