THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY
What is a frivolous lawsuit? The law defines a “frivolous” lawsuit as “presenting no debatable question” to the court. But there’s certainly no debate for misbehaving defendants and their lobbyists – they often denounce legitimate claims as “frivolous.” But a look at statistics and unbiased studies can give us the facts about the real incidence of “frivolous” cases:
â?¢Richard Turbin, of the American Bar Association’s Tort and Insurance Practice section, a group which includes plaintiff and defense lawyers, publicly stated that the rate of federal lawsuits per capita has not changed since 1790. Mr. Turbin also noted that plaintiffs have steadily won 30 to 40 percent of cases and that the size of awards has increased only due to natural inflation.
â?¢According to a Department of Justice study published in August 2000, plaintiffs overall in the country’s 75 largest counties won slightly fewer tort jury trials in 1996 (the last year for which numbers are available) than in 1992. Half of plaintiff winners in tort jury trials won $57,000 or more in 1992; in 1996 half of plaintiff winners won only $30,000 or more – a significant drop in those amounts awarded.(1)
â?¢When given, jury awards are generally small. The DOJ study said $30,500 was the median final award actually received by plaintiffs. This includes both compensatory and punitive damages. (Compensatory awards are given to restore the plaintiff to the condition he/she occupied before the injury. Punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant who commits a willful or malicious act). NOTE: News stories often report initial awards, which are sometimes later reduced by the trial judge, on appeal, or in post-verdict settlement.
â?¢Our 225-year-old legal system has multiple procedural safeguards to ensure defendants’ rights. The contingency fee system keeps attorneys from taking baseless cases. A certain amount and quality of evidence must be present for any case to proceed. Judges monitor filings at every step, and can dismiss a case that lacks merit at any time. Attorneys can be punished – and, in some cases, may have to pay money penalties – if they bring frivolous suits to court, or otherwise abuse the process. Our extensive, time-tested court procedures ensure that defendants are treated fairly.(2)Order Now