This post is off topic. However , I was compelled to post a response to the article in today’s New York Times by Barry Meier and Hillary Stout . Meier and Stout assert that the ignition defects fell through the legal cracks . The story ‘s theme is of the parents of one the folks that General Motors killed. A Wisconsin law firm rejected the case because of damage caps .At least 42 people died as a result of the defective ignition switch.
A case filed in Georgia lead to the disclosure of the defect ‘s public disclosure of the defects. What was the difference between the case in Wisconsin and Georgia ? Georgia does not have strict caps on damages in a product liability case. It takes a huge amount of money to fund a case taking on a automotive giant. The defense is aggressive and has a unlimited amount of money. If the lawyers lose , they go bankrupt.
Lawyers have always been on the side of public safety , but it is a business . A lawyer has to be able to pay their bills. It is the state legislatures that are to blame . In the push for tort reform , state legislatures across the country enacted caps on damages . In Tennessee , damages are limited by statute in a wrongful death case. The main limit is the concept of pecuniary damages.
The article does do a good job in detailing the unsavory parts of a lawsuit. Corporate lawyers who knew of the defects and deaths. Taking a settlement based on risk and reward. The ethics of reporting the defects to corporate authorities. it paints some lawyers as villains because they would not accept a case.
There are two takeaways. First , states should remove caps on personal injury lawsuits . It would prevent cases like these falling through the legal cracks . Second , we cant trust government inspection and monitoring of defective products.