Recently I wrote about a white paper published by the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School, "The "New" Media May Be Distorting Civil Justice And Verdicts, reporting on the inaccuracies in the media when it comes to headlines on civil justice system and verdicts.
I should know better. There are two sides to every story. I may have been biased toward one.
Alerted by my friend and colleague, Arizona trial consultant Dennis Elias, I discovered Stuart Silverstein reporting for FairWarning, "Online Media Mislead Readers About Jury Awards, Report Says, about some of the flaws in the CJ&D research. Excerpt.
"In addition, the center’s review of the articles found coverage of six plaintiff victories for every one defense victory. Yet, throughout the civil justice system, plaintiffs win just over half of the time in cases that go to trial. And the vast majority of cases never get to that stage — they are dismissed or settled.
Another flaw the center cited in news coverage was a frequent failure to mention prominently, if at all, state-imposed caps on damages that can limit payouts to a fraction of the amounts awarded by a jury. The report said “these terrible journalistic failures … perpetuate the same kind of myths about the frequency of high jury awards that led to legislative caps in the first place.”
But Ted Frank, a litigation reform expert at the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York, said the report was guilty of an omission of its own – it neglected to mention that defendants are hurt by shallow news coverage, too. He said defendants sometimes are demonized in news stories about lawsuits, only to get relatively scant coverage when the cases are thrown out.
In other cases, even if defendants never suffer a defeat in court, they may pay out large sums in settlements to plaintiffs. That might limit a company’s negative publicity, but it also can leave the public in the dark about the costs of litigation."
I stand corrected and better informed.