Twelve angry men. Well, actually, there were only seven of us – and three of them were women, and no one was particularly angry, so…
One of the things I have discovered in my first year of retirement is that when I do venture out, I find that my time appears not to be worth near as much as before. In the midst of looking for a job, I was invited to be a part of a mock jury panel today, and work with a law firm to help them better figure out how to win a civil suit. I won’t go into detail, since I sworn an oath on threat of imprisonment and torture that I would never discuss the case so long as I live, and I really don’t want to end up on Alcatraz for spilling the beans, but I can tell you that somebody somewhere had a non-life threatening accident, and as a result is suing two other companies for the accident. He did lose wages, and can’t do the job he used to do any longer, although it was only a shoulder injury, so…
So the seven of us strangers gathered in the windowless room, all in facemasks, and all having signed our legal penalty documents, with a blue pen, so at 9:00, the lawyer made his presentation, giving us all plenty of time to ask questions and to even ask some pretty stupid questions that had nothing to do with the case. More on that later.
After a couple of hours, we then were left to “judge the case.” Our task was to decide who was libel for the accident (which means it’s not an accident, because it was someone’s fault…), and even more, how much the liable party or parties should pay the victim in terms of lost wages, of future lost wages, of past pain and suffering, and future pain and suffering. Always a delightful way to spend a Wednesday with strangers.
Deciding who was at fault wasn’t terribly hard – basically, there were some really boneheaded actions that could have been avoided if anyone had been paying attention, but it ended up the victim opening up a door in the dark, and stepping into an 8-foot deep hole, injuring himself. He could still walk, was able to get out of the hole, and actually didn’t go to the doctor until the next day. But perhaps I’m telling you too much of the case – you could probably guess it by now, if you had ever heard of the case before, which I’m sure you haven’t. Anyway, the companies were certainly at fault, and so after a third trip to the restrooms by everyone (don’t these people have bladders in their families?), we got down to the hard work of deciding how much money needed to be doled out.
That’s one thing about civil suits: Money. Somebody somehow ends up winning the injury sweepstakes, and just like Publisher’s Clearing House, they are usually set for life. Now there are two parts to that money splash – the first part makes sense, when we had to decide how much the guy probably lost in wages while he was laid up, and even the part that calculates how much money he probably won’t be able to make until his retirement, since he can’t do the work he used to do. You can fudge back and forth with those numbers, but it’s frankly way more than you might imagine it to be, if you are talking about someone who could work another 10 years before retirement. Well, it’s not that the person can’t work – it’s just that they can’t do that particular job, and so the evil companies need to pony up with the bucks. We probably spent about an hour on those deliberations, and then another break for the toilets (really? Maybe stop drinking so many of those little bottles of water!).
The next round was the old “pain and suffering” award. Now, let me say first of all that I have a personal dislike for this kind of award. I’ve actually served on three different civil trials with this component, and it’s really hard for me to open someone else’s checkbook and pay a person tons of money for their “pain and suffering” – with a couple of exceptions. I mean, if anyone should be paid it should be our disabled veterans who have given body parts and futures for our country – like my dad and my brother. Or perhaps little children, whose lives are broken for their lifetime by the stupid acts of others. The only other category should be to pay someone if another party – on purpose – did something that brought a lifetime injury or death to another. I really believe that just being stupid and forgetting to do something, and someone gets hurt ought to bring a far different penalty, like taking out a billboard or a national TV ad that says, “We were just stupid, and did a stupid thing – don’t do business with us anymore…”
So, there we were, all not-quite-angry people, trying to convince each other of our particular beliefs when it comes to pain and suffering money. By the way, do you KNOW how many meetings with congregations I have had to go through when people felt completely free to insult and defame me on behalf of the conference? I should have gotten a slice of that pain and suffering pie!
What I have discovered, however, is that not everyone in this world is equally intelligent nor emotionally mature as everyone else. And it’s those folks who tend to use the loudest voice to try to prove their point. Granted, this was a mock jury – sort of like practicing opening up presents for Christmas a week early -- but for crying out loud! The amount of money – even fake money – that at least two of our group of seven wanted to give the guy with one hurt joint was bordering on silly, or a satirical skit. First, they thought the companies should pay a third of a million dollars for three years’ worth of surgeries and rehab. Seemed a bit excessive, since he was also getting paid for not working those years. But then, when it came to how much he should get for the rest of his life – when he was able to do upwards of 100 different jobs, just not overusing one joint – they together announced that he should receive $2.5 million. That’s US dollars. Almost makes you want to fall down a hole…
I tried to explain that there was no paralysis, no blindness, so head injury, no loss of limb – just “something else” (see how I’m not telling you the case!), and that he was going to get another job anyway… didn’t matter. It was those companies fault, and they needed to PAY for their misdeeds – they needed to be crushed beneath the weight of the justice system. For shame!
Well, since we were only a mock jury, we were able to leave without coming to full agreement, since it was all fake anyway, but it left me actually a bit sad, that this was an honest rendering of our system of justice. It was really the worst incarnation of “intention,” because they were wanting to intentionally destroy even two businesses due to a stupid and unintentional action.
The fact is, since I did the mock jury this time, it’s possible, they say, that they might call me again. I’ll have to think about that. After all, I did make a cool $60 for half a day in a room with a bunch of strangers, but it they do call, I hope it’ll be a while from now, so I can forget the idea of getting $2.5million for falling in a hole…
FACTS for the day: I thought I’d change things up and give you more trivia for your life. All of these have been gleaned from the internet, so you know they have to be true:
If you bang your head against the wall for an hour, you will use 150 calories.
Cherophobia is the fear of happiness.
Movie previews are called trailers because they used to be shown after the movie was over.
Only 5% of the ocean has been explored.
The average male will get bored after 26 minutes of shopping.
Crocodiles can’t stick out their tongues.
“Almost” is the longest word in English to have all letters in alphabetic order.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.