“Jury awards $89 million against drunk driver for fatal crash,” was the headline of a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. What do 99% of the people exposed to this article now believe? Someone just got a huge verdict. But his was a one day trial and the likelihood of the Plaintiffs collecting a penny approaches zero. The article does not say the case was even defended by a lawyer.
I think it is great that the victim’s family gets some measure of pleasure from the verdict. The man killed in the accident was returning from a shopping mall where they had registered for gifts for their upcoming wedding. His fiancee was pregnant. The defendant was drunk out of his mind. Awful facts.
Selfishly and for my clients, I think there is a benefit when future jurors here big numbers. It makes the numbers our lawyers usually ask juries for to be far more reasonable. Still, I worry about the impact on jurors who see an article like this and assume that jackpot justice is what we have in personal injury cases. Because far more people are getting big verdicts like this than are collecting big verdicts like this very large verdict in Missouri.