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Is California Law Governing Compensatory Damage Awards Fair?

San Pedro, CA |

"No fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of non-economic damages. You must use your judgment to decide a reasonable amount" is the language in the statute which clarifies a bit of the confusion relative to California's Compensatory Damage Law. However, it raises an inexplicable question of fairness. In a now infamous case, the decedent, a young restaurant waiter, Ron Goldman, with no lengthy job history beyond 6 months on any job, no college degree, a court docket sheet of trouble with the law, yet compels an award of $8.5 million dollars in compensatory damages to his parents as heirs. Is one to assume that a similar young minority server at a CA inner city McDonald's should expect the same level of compensatory award for his heirs if violently killed after leaving work?

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Posted

Unfortunately jury awards are unfair sometimes but you are nonetheless entitled to a jury of your peers. You cannot regulate how they determine their reward or lack thereof in some cases.

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Posted

"you are nonetheless entitled to a jury of your peers." Even if it is one that has been over saturated with media bias, I assume.

Posted

No, one cannot assume that. Each case has a value that is dependent on it's own unique set of facts as applied to the law. And due to the subjective nature of the non-economic damages, the damages can vary based on a variety of factors. There are always exceptions to the general applications as well. Fair or not, it's the only system we have.

I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case. No attorney-client relationship shall be created through the use reading of this response on Avvo. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this response.

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Each case has a value that is dependent on it's own unique set of facts as applied to the law.?????? Huhm!!!! Can you be a bit more specific as it relates to the facts regarding the demonstrative case?.

Posted

The law has never required perfect reconciliation of all cases, not even within subject matters. We cannot line up all of the injured, for example, starting with the most injured and working down towards the least, in an effort to make sure that the awards of damages received by each "matches" their place in the line of relative injury. To impose such a requirement is to invite and ensure defeat of the mission.

Instead, the sponsors of each case and claim are allowed to make their "best case" within a constant and consistent framework of fixed legal principles. Any truly deviant results obtained by that process can be reviewed and corrected by courts who have deep experience with the applicable field of relativity (additor and remittur). There will always be outlier awards that attract disproportionate public controversy. Very often these specific incidents are distorted and exaggerated within a few months of the event. Check out "Hot Coffee" on Netflix for a serious and enlightening explication on this issue.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

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There will always be outlier awards that attract disproportionate public controversy. Unlike others, including the Hot Coffee case, this one seemed to get a great deal of one sided help from the powerful media. Thus, I would be hesitant to compare it to something like the Hot Coffee case other than for the extraordinary amount of the award.

Posted

Every jury is different, and with a good lawyer, the sky is the limit.

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"and with a good lawyer, the sky is the limit." More like......"and with a continuous adverse media bombardment directed at the defendant" the sky is the limit.

Posted

I think people misunderstand justice and fairness. Life is not fair, neither is the law. However, there is a system of justice in place that will try to compensate for losses that money simply cannot repair -- in our system, we call this justice.

I am licensed in California, therefore, my answers are based on general prinicpals of law or California law, which may not be applicable in your jurisdiction. Answers posted to Avvo are for general information only. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case. Every case depends is fact dependent, and responses are limited to and is based on the information you posted. No attorney-client relationship shall be created through the use reading of this response on Avvo. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this response.

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