Saturday, May 10, 2014

You Can Be Sued For Merely Existing

Teachers are under the mistaken belief, expressed here by (of course) a lawyer, that if they follow all of the steps listed in the article, they will never be named in a civil action.

Just a teacher's mere existence can give an unethical or unscrupulous lawyer grounds to file an utterly meritless lawsuit. Since virtually all of these types of lawsuits are leveled against a school district, a teacher has no real recourse to clear his or her name, especially if the media gets wind of it. A teacher has even less chance when school districts settle out of court, which happens in virtually every civil action. That's because district insurance carriers will NOT pay for attorney fees to go to trial and the appeals process. Lawyers know this dirty little secret, plus the fact judges almost never sanction plaintiffs' lawyers for Rule 11 violations, so they continue to file meritless claims in order to get a pre-trial settlement. It's a win-win for them and their clients while people falsely accused must spend the rest of their lives trying to clear their names and have little recourse to do so. Nowadays the problem is magnified thanks to the existence of the internet and internet searches.

Lawyers will never admit to these truths, but they are there. The civil court system is so utterly broken because of the requirement that ALL lawsuits that happen to pass muster on technicalities (jurisdiction, causes of action, statute of limitations, etc.) regardless of the truth of the allegations MUST go to mediation. Typically this is done after discovery is completed but can occur at any point during the legal process. The mediation or settlement conference is almost always the end of the line for a civil case. The school district and its insurance carrier will always capitulate to a payout while denying the truth of the allegations made in a complaint. In my view, any false case to get an insurance claim is for all intents and purposes insurance fraud. However, if a person has access to the right lawyer, a lawyer who is comfortable violating the ethical requirement of exercising "due diligence" before taking somebody on as a client, that person will get a big payday and no worries about prison time and such for committing fraud. When the person gets his or her big payday, he or she can go blow it in on trips, a mobile home, jewelry, or whatever else comes to his or her mind. It's like winning the lottery for him or her. Meanwhile, teachers and staff wrongly accused wind up with nothing, not even a decent reputation, after being trashed in this manner.

I believe lawyers who file false complaints in order to get that payout should be subject to sanctions, including disbarment. They have no real sanctions against them now, or they would not be engaging in this systematic fraud.

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