Is it, or isn’t it?
- It is: “Hopefully this means a better life,” says the energy company employee who won a $40 million judgment (almost half of it punitives) against Qwest Communications after the telephone pole he was working on collapsed and injured him. He was lucky; had he worked for the phone company, he likely would have been barred from suing by worker’s comp laws.
“I could hear my heart pounding, pulsing faster and faster, and I tried keeping calm, but when they started reading the verdict I was in a state of shock,” he said. “It’s justice.”
- It isn’t: “The lawsuit wasn’t about money, he said.” That’s New Hampshire resident Joseph Hewett, the rejected applicant for The Apprentice who settled his age discrimination lawsuit against Donald Trump and the producers of the show.
“This was never about a disgruntled applicant trying to get back at (Trump’s) organization, it just gave me an opportunity to advocate on behalf of a protected class,” he said. “This was about the fact that I believe an entire class was aggrieved.”
His evidence that age was what kept him off the show was a slam dunk; after all, he “claimed he was qualified for the show because he graduated magna cum laude from college and because of his ‘many years of experience maintaining large commercial properties.’”
- Well, maybe it is: Human rights advocacy groups have been (mis)using the Alien Tort Claims Act for years to litigate foreign events in American courts, but those advocacy groups were motivated primarily by ideology. Now class action law firms, sensing an opportunity, are getting in on the action. Overlawyered repeat offender Motley Rice (many links) is suing officials of the United Arab Emirates on behalf of boys from South Asia and Africa who claim to have been kidnapped and enslaved as camel jockeys in the UAE; the case has no connection whatsoever to the U.S.
The human rights movement isn’t thrilled because they figure that these lawyers are really in it for the money and not the cause; conservative tort reformers aren’t thrilled because they see it as just another example of entrepreneurial lawyering by trial lawyers.
John M. Eubanks, a lawyer with Motley Rice who represents the former jockeys, disputed both points.
“We’re trying to right wrongs that have been committed,” Mr. Eubanks said. “It’s not about money. It’s about exacting some form of justice.”
Pressed, Mr. Eubanks conceded that the case was at least partly about money. “There is a contingency fee,” he said. “These cases do cost a lot of money. We don’t get paid unless we collect.”