“…[i]t is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part.” – James Madison, The Federalist No. 51.
Last New Year’s Eve I was at a party telling a couple of women I know about my lawsuits. One woman said, “I had an accident once but I didn’t sue.” She’d tripped over an overlapping rubber mat in her lobby, fell hard and was injured. “But why didn’t you sue?” I asked her. “It was my own building,” she said. “I felt like it was my fault, I felt guilty.”
The other woman chimed in; she, too, had had an accident but didn’t sue. “It’s so expensive for the system and everything,” she said. “I don’t like lawyers,” the first one said, wrinkling her nose. “They’re always performing, they’re like actors.”
Both women had recurring physical problems from their accidents. Both clearly disapproved of me, for suing.
The biggest problem they had? They were wrong. About everything. They should have sued.
So many people I know wind up involved in litigation because shit does happen. And the longer we live, the more likely it is that shit will happen to us.
Some shit that actually happened:
°Ever been in an automobile accident?
°Ever been fired from a job and/or been discriminated against? Hey, if you’re a woman, you’ve been discriminated against…as well as suddenly having your very pretty and perky breasts grabbed in an elevator by the apparently pleasant family guy who has the office next to yours. (That’s sexual assault, as well as a bunch of other legal causes of action.)
°Ever sit in a conference room listening for the very first time to a delightful new song, recorded by a famous singer and composed by a couple of legendary songwriters as the title song for a TV documentary, when your employer – the very guy who commissioned the song – announces to the room at large, “I’m not going to have some fag sing my title song!” and storms out? And then you get a call from an executive for the record company asking if you’d be their chief witness to this egregious breach of contract?
Okay, well, maybe that never happened to you, but somewhere, somehow you’ve been aware of breaches of agreement, been threatened or defamed, discriminated against, bought a tainted, falsely advertised or under-tested product, lived in or near a disease cluster.
Maybe, as I already mentioned, you’ve bought a few shares of some publicly traded company. So you too might find yourself invited to become part of a class action lawsuit. And I know you’ve been outraged by some major or minor injustice and certainly have been pissed off at your landlord, your upstairs neighbor or your co-op board. If you’re still breathing and live in New York City, you’ve had some real estate dispute.
Before I began Sidebar, off-handedly I asked my friends and family if anybody knew of any lawsuits. I was amazed: almost everybody I know has gotten involved at least once in a lawsuit or precursor to a lawsuit.
Later I’ll tell you their stories.
- It’s likely you’ll be involved in litigation, or a dispute that can turn into litigation, at some point in your life.
- If you have a righteous cause, sue.
- It doesn’t cost “the system” too much; this is what “the system” is built to do – provide some justice.
- There is no “system” per se. “System” (said with a curled upper lip) is a lazy-or-dumb code word for anti-lawyer rhetoric.
- Yes, lawyers are performers. It’s one of their strengths.
- Your lawyer isn’t your pal. You don’t have to cuddle up with your lawyer. He or she is your lawyer, a function distinctly different from friendship.