The United States legal system of today is affected with various complications. The drawbacks of litigations often affect parties on both ends financially and emotionally, disrupting personal and business life. If we look at the way’s courts were viewed in the past, we see that the perception has vastly changed. Where courts used to be institutes of morality with attorneys who were the protectors of the law, today most see courts as a drain of money and a waste of time. Although changing the U.S legal system as a whole is not an easy process, this memo outlines a few measures that can be taken in order to improve the current system.
One of the biggest issues courts face today is the cost of litigation. Even the minor cases in court can cost people hundreds of thousands of dollars in, and given the long time periods these cases might take, these costs eventually increase. A few ways these costs can be controlled and monitored are mentioned below.
Courts need to ensure that the damages that are claimed in monetary form represent the actual damages one has incurred. This is because people who get sued often tend to pay amount way higher than it actually should be, although the defendants are only required to pay the billed amounts. This can be seen in many examples where businesses are sued for minor issues, but end up paying large amounts of money in damages which do not represent original amounts. I think that any amount paid in excess of the actual amount should be questioned. Explanations should be demanded as to why plaintiffs should recover unnecessary amounts. Such overpayments should be declared inadmissible if not reflective of the billed amounts. Also, all states should allow jurors to hear both sides, amount billed and paid, so a better determination of a reasonable amount can be made.
We often see that even when businesses win a lawsuit, they still end up paying a lot of money into defending themselves against ridiculous claims. This is often true in the case of small business as they tend to suffer the most. One such example can be seen in the case of Yankee Candle Co. Inc. v. Bridgewater Candle Co. Inc. Yankee, a very large competitor, files a frivolous copyright lawsuit against one of its smaller competitors. The lawsuit had no proper claim or evidence, and was eventually made clear as an attempt to drive an economically poor competitor out of the market. Although Bridgewater won the case, their business faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in the red. I believe that a loser’s pay system should be in effect in every state. Business imposing lawsuits on other business that turn out to be for the sole purpose of harassing, bullying or other improper intentions, should be made to pay for the defendant’s fees as well as the cost of discovery, in order to discourage litigants from forcing claims that are costly, excessive, time consuming and unfair.
Some sensibility needs to be reestablished in the area of consumer protection. Most of the Consumer Protection Acts today just allow consumers to take advantages of business, regarding anything that can in the most minimal way be considered as deceptive or unfair, become a solid claim. This not only costs defendants the legal costs, but also additional treble damages. Such CPA claims allow people to stretch the law and attack business in very unpredictable ways. I believe that for any claims of such to be considered valid, it should be made clear that the business is willingly deceiving their customers or involved in fraud marketing, and should be evident that any such act has caused the plaintiff loss of money or caused harm or injury.
Businesses in the retail business also need protection. In most cases retail business face the responsibility of any defective or harmful products. It needs to be understood that these business are no more than distributers of the product, and are not a part of manufacturing or designing the product. All states should adopt laws to protect retailers from bizarre law suits if a product in not to the liking of the consumer or in some way harms the consumer. Such lawsuits should always be directed to the manufacturers. As far as noneconomic damages are concerned, this is a huge problem to accurately determine. Although many states have an upper limit to such awards, these have been constantly rising and changing from the traditional awards of medical expenses. The biggest reason I believe is the way juries now tend sympathize with the plaintiffs, resulting in very high amounts of amounts being paid out as emotional or suffering damages. In addition to this, juries need to become more efficient in determining various aspects of the law.
Today it seems that the juries are more influenced by emotional reasons and the style of the lawyers rather than the factual information. Member of the jury should be the representatives of the society, not just a small part. More laws need to be adopted to ensure that jury members are efficient, professional, and represent analytical decision-making power. Laws should be made so that people do not tend to avoid jury service, but rather be attracted towards it. This can be done through creating a system where there is no exemption based on occupation, no lengthy time requirement, compensation for people who are risking work and income for jury service, and more strict fines for people failing to attend sessions. The information handling in courts today needs to improve. Information today is much more different and vast, but seems like the same system is used to handle it. This also allows for misuse of information, mostly adopted by attorneys to create more confusion and prolong cases, burying other sides in bulk of information in many instances. This is also the main reason even the smallest cases can drag on for months. Also, such misunderstanding of information effects the jury’s decision making ability. Such abused rule in the discovery process need to be reviewed, and the communication and storage of information needs to be updated. One way this can be achieved is, according to me, training jury member, giving them more freedom, allowing them to take notes, also allowing them to ask question if any confusion arise.
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