“Mississippi Jury Rules Helmet Maker Not Liable for High Schooler’s Injury”

by Walter Olson on November 8, 2012

Helmet-manufacturer Riddell may have beaten the rap concerning a 2006 injury to a ninth-grader who suffered a stroke at football practice, but many other lawsuits against helmet manufacturers continue to loom on the horizon. [Insurance Journal]

{ 17 comments }

1 Max Kennerly 11.08.12 at 8:45 am

What? A jury ruled against the plaintiff? I thought juries were stupid, and always ruled for sympathetic plaintiffs. That’s what you folks keep saying.

2 boblipton 11.08.12 at 8:59 am

I guess the defendant came off as a brain-damaged schmuck. Otherwise there’s no reason not to make the helmet maker play.

Well, I suppose they’ll have to look for someone else with money. What’s the state of your bank account, Max?

Bob

3 peter 11.08.12 at 9:56 am

@ Max. Ouch…burn.

Well that one result has just disproved the whole premise and shown us how wrong we are. Might as well just shut up Overlawyered as that one result proves that juries always get it right. Ah well, it’s been fun.

4 William Nuesslein 11.08.12 at 9:56 am

Max Kennerly is right with respect to me. I am surprised that the sympathetic plaintiff did not win a pile of money. The theory of the case was ridiculous and the jury did a good job. I feel sorry for the boy and his family. There is a brutal aspect to stroke: it can happen to anybody at anytime.

5 wfjag 11.08.12 at 11:45 am

@William Nuesslein:
“Max Kennerly is right with respect to me. I am surprised that the sympathetic plaintiff did not win a pile of money.”

WN — let me explain “the facts” to you and Max — suit was against a FOOTBALL helmet manufacturer in the USDC, Southern District of Mississippi — you know, the firm whose name appears across the back of the helmets worn by the players on the FOOTBALL teams of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alcorn State, Jackson State and lots of High Schools in Mississippi, and the trial was held in the middle of FOOTBALL season, and during a season in which some of the Mississippi FOOTBALL teams are post-season FOOTBALL Bowl Game eligible. Moreover, the plaintiffs are from Georgia, the state whose Univ. of Georgia Bulldogs FOOTBALL team is a SEC rival of Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Of course, it could have been worse for plaintiffs. IF they had been from Alabama, home of the Univ. of Alabama “Roll Tide” FOOTBALL team — which routinely whupps the Ole Miss and Mississippi State FOOTBALL teams — the jury would have awarded damages to the defendant.

Obviously, the only consideration was “the facts”.

6 Ron Miller 11.08.12 at 2:44 pm

Who are jurors exactly? They are people. Just like us. So when you attack juries, don’t be a coward. Just say “people” or “Americans.”

I’ve said it before on here: someone explain why we let the common man vote if he is so dumb. The vote in the election on Tuesday is a lot more important than a single jury verdict. Why do we give these people so much power. I have unconfirmed reports of people without even a college degree voting? Can you imagine?

(Wfjag, it is insulting to those jurors to suggest – without any foundation in facts or logic – that they are unduly sympathetic to helmet manufacturers because they love football. It suggests a stunning level of stupidity. Would they also be overly sympathetic to a lawsuit against Fox because they carry the game? How about anyone who is the official sponsor of the NFL?)

7 gitarcarver 11.08.12 at 11:14 pm

Well gee Ron, doctors are people, “just like us,” so the next time you need an operation, go ahead and go to a guy without a medical license. Need a house? Go to an architect or engineer without degrees. The person would be just another “person” or “American.” Heck, let’s make lawyers obsolete by saying there is no need for a law degree to practice law. After all, you only want “people” in the courtroom, right?

The fact of the matter is that juries are people that are selected by the parties for specific purposes. Lawyers look for certain tendencies and beliefs. As I am sure you are aware, people with advanced degrees are often excluded from juries. Got a cop in your family? You aren’t allowed 0n a jury that is decided a case involving the police.

Juries are culled from the population. Instead of looking for the brightest and best people to sit on a jury, lawyers look for people that can be emotionally swayed.

The sad thing is that lawyers created the system that is obviously broken, and then seek to defend it not because it is not broken, but because the money lines their pockets.

8 Shotgunner 11.09.12 at 12:04 am

Simple solution. Stop making football (or any headgear). Who needs them anyway?

9 Max Kennerly 11.09.12 at 9:01 am

“The fact of the matter is that juries are people that are selected by the parties for specific purposes. Lawyers look for certain tendencies and beliefs.”

You should probably spend some time looking up how voir dire actually works. I have never “selected” a juror in my life. No state allows lawyers to “select” jurors. States allow, to varying degrees, lawyers to strike a couple (usually about 3) jurors of their choice. By and large, the jury isn’t selected by anyone, it’s “the next people in line who showed up for jury duty, minus a handful of people with obvious biases for or against a party.”

10 Max Kennerly 11.09.12 at 9:03 am

Bob: “Well, I suppose they’ll have to look for someone else with money.”

How do you suggest they do that, with no other defendants to name and the statute of limitations having run? This case will be an expensive loss for them. Every trial lawyer has cases that, in the end, were nothing but a huge waste of their time and money. Given that this is a product liability case, the plaintiff’s lawyers probably put in well over $100,000 of their own money out of pocket on the case for experts and the like.

You folks really do need to do some basic research on how lawsuits work. Lawyers don’t just file random papers against random people and collect money.

11 Ron Miller 11.09.12 at 10:46 am

Gitarcarver, the right to a jury trial is not something we made up 20 years ago. It is in the Bill of Freaking Rights.

I agree I want a doctor when I’m sick and a lawyer when I have a legal issue. It just does not apply to this issue.

Gitarcarver, does it bug you just a little that common many is allowed to vote? Just admit it. It is okay. Just a little. Right?

12 gitrarcarver 11.09.12 at 12:44 pm

Ron, I agree the right to a jury trial is in the Bill of Rights. Of course, that is not what I was addressing but that is okay. It is the process within the jury trial that has been perverted.

It just does not apply to this issue.

Right. So when a doctor is on being sued, why are doctors eliminated from the jury? When an engineering issue is a part of the suit, why are engineers eliminated from the jury?

Contrary to your assertion, it is not that I want the “common man” eliminated from the jury. People like yourself do. A “jury of peers” was never intended to be culled down to where people are excluded from serving on a jury because of their professional expertise.

I don’t have a problem with the common man Ron.

You do.

13 mike 11.09.12 at 5:47 pm

@ Max K,
Wow, the plaintiff filed a case of his choice and lost $100K.
I do know how these cases work, and I promise you the defendant lost/spent 5 times that, and they were “in the right”.
When do they get their $500K back?

The fact that plaintiff attorneys feel its a good gamble of their money to file cases like this, PROVE the laws need to be changed.

14 Ron Miller 11.10.12 at 10:05 pm

First of all, there are not that many engineers in the pool, just like there are not that many doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs.

Gitacarver, I have to tell you, you are the only person arguing that there should be no jury strikes. I mean, I have never seen anything and I can’t find anything. Have you? It there an article out there on the world wide web that supports this view? Is there a state in the country that does this?

On many of your rants, you might be right and the rest of the world might be wrong. It is possible, I guess. But you proffer crazy ideas about which you know very little that are not being argued by people other than you and act like we are all crazy for not adopting your nonsense. You do this all of the time. I find it maddening.

15 Walter Olson 11.10.12 at 10:32 pm

On this one, Ron, I think Gitarcarver has much the better of it. I for one have proposed abolishing peremptory challenges (as my contribution to “250 Ways To Make America Better,” 1999.) Many other persons before me, and many since, have proposed abolishing peremptory challenges:

http://is.gd/3GDvrS

If memory serves, England some years back instituted reforms which moved a great portion of the distance toward the “take the first twelve out of the box, unless one of them is the defendant’s sister” end of the field. And also if memory serves, while practice varies widely from one state and locality in the U.S. to the next, much U.S. practice accords lawyers far, far more sway over jury selection than they get in other countries with jury systems. (I don’t know where Maryland stands on the spectrum between permissive and narrow use of voir dire/peremptories.)

16 gitarcarver 11.11.12 at 3:45 pm

First of all, there are not that many engineers in the pool, just like there are not that many doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs.

Sure Ron. Everyone in the world has only obtained a high school, GED or technical school diploma. There aren’t ever any professionals with college degrees. I guess once you get a college degree you are stricken from the potential jury pools.

Gitacarver, I have to tell you, you are the only person arguing that there should be no jury strikes.

Except that I am not arguing that Ron and you know it. I am saying the voir dire process has gotten away from its original intentions of seating a fair and impartial jury to one where the sides try and seat a jury that is impartial and more likely to vote for “their side” of the case.

But you proffer crazy ideas about which you know very little that are not being argued by people other than you and act like we are all crazy for not adopting your nonsense. You do this all of the time. I find it maddening.

I am sorry you find different points of view maddening Ron. I find it maddening that you constantly shift topics (as you have done here,) attack others for not being as superior as you are (as you have done here,) ascribe opinions to people which they have not said, and have a tendency to read what you believe what people are saying rather than what they are saying.

We won’t even get into to fact that you seem to just make stuff up out of the blue that is so incredibly implausible it stretches your credibility. (For example, you argued that you had never heard nor seen police that were corrupt despite the fact in the city in which you work over 40 cops had been recently indicted on top of the 20 or so that had been convicted and gone to jail.)

Now THAT’S maddening.

17 Ron Miller 11.12.12 at 1:43 pm

Seriously? I shift topics? My gosh, Gitacarver, I have never known anyone to do it like you do. Moreover, a man needs to know his own limitations. You are are expert in, as near as I can tell, everything. And it drives me nuts. I don’t think even people of your political bent agree with 90% of what you say. And my gosh: yes, I have never heard of corrupt police before. That is an exact quote. Well done.

Walter, to answer your question, I believe Maryland has the most restrictive voir dire in the country. A Howard County judge told me that although I think his basis for it was just what he had heard. We just get rough bios, they ask general questions with limited follow up, and then you make your picks. I exclude people that I have never even seen based on very limited bios.

But just because limiting jury strikes has been offer, there is clearly no groundswell for it. Is there a state in the country that offers no jury strikes? Has a full legislature even voted on the issue? I mean, I can find Internet debate on whether we should eliminate Tuesdays. But more to the point, the idea of jury eliminating jury strikes does not stem from the pandemic problem Gitcarver states: that doctors should be permitted on juries when doctors are on trial (or engineers or whatever). Do you really see this as a serious problem in our judicial system? Has anyone ever?

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