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Jury Awards are Rarely Too High


Dear Source:
Jim Tunick wrote, "One man's pain is another man's pleasure". What exactly does that mean? My clients have injuries that will affect them for a lifetime. Every time they get out of bed in the morning, every time it rains, every time they exert themselves, they are reminded that they are injured and that the injury was caused by someone else's carelessness. These people do not enjoy their pain. These people do not get pleasure from their pain. These men and women, and sometimes children, are hurt. Will money make them whole? No.
But money is needed when they can no longer work, or when they are fired or told to retire "early" because they can no longer work as hard, or as long as they used to work. Money is needed because paying them back for their medical bills does not give them any extra money, when their insurance company tells them they are not renewing their health insurance policy for some made up reason, when the real reason is the insurance company no longer wants to pay for this person's medical treatment.
This is reality. My client's lives are altered forever when they are seriously injured. Not everyone is seriously injured. Some clients do recover in a matter of months. Jim Tunick does not trust Virgin Islanders to make decisions about how to value someone's pain and suffering. Mr. Tunick would like the Legislature to think for us so that our juries cannot make decisions.
There are times when a jury award is too high. That is why we have appellate panels. Sometimes an appeals panel will reduce a jury award. Sometimes the panel will send the case back for a new trial. Not often, but it does happen. Mr. Tunick and Senator David do not want us to trust our judges either. If our Virgin Islands judges are just as incapable as making decisions as our juries are, as Mr. Tunick and Senator David want us to believe, then we have another layer of outside independent judges, which is called the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Third Circuit is conservative. They have no hidden agenda. Why not let the process that has made our country what is it, continue? When did Legislators decide they had to think for juries? The fact is that insurance premiums do not go down when there is a cap.
The insurance industry cycles just like the gasoline industry. Insurance companies are in business to make money. Insurance companies are not our "friends". Right now in New Orleans, insurance companies are fighting to deny people their money, claming that the burst levees caused the damage to people's homes, instead of the wind, which ripped open their windows and roofs. It is the "little guy," as Bob King said, who gets hurt by insurance companies.
If Mr. Tunick and Senator David want a debate, I say let's set an open forum live on television. We will designate someone to debate Mr. Tunick. We will bring a few clients who can tell the community about their pain and suffering. And we can watch Mr. Tunick and Senator David attempt to explain how getting hit by a car is someone else's pleasure.

Julie German Evert
St. Thomas

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