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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
Attorney • (800) 770-7008

Loser Pays: Is it a Part of Justice?

10 comments

In Minnesota we have a procedure that allows for loser pays. The concern I have always had is that our clients aren’t allowed to sue the insurance company directly, they have to sue the person who caused the collision. The insurance company then gets to hide behind the person as they call the shots and then if the jury finds no threshold, the insurance company gets to pop out and collect their costs.

For a person who was offered nearly nothing, who is by agreement injured from the collision and not at fault, it is a brutal reality to have to them pay more money back to the company than they were offered. Include in that cost the price of the hired gun medical doctor who was used to create the myth that the client was all better. I bet the person wishes they were all better and that they never had to suffer through the case.

I saw recently that KRB is now going after 2 million in fees and $145,000 in costs against Jamie Leigh Jones. Wow, that’s a lot of money and considering the facts of the case, it seems like KRB might be better off to take their win and head down the road. We know it took a bunch of political pressure to get her out of Iraq, but my guess is that wasn’t because she was the loose woman they portrayed her as. I find it hard to believe, that they fought so hard to keep this out of litigation because they knew they were right. Seems like enough has been done to ruin her.

Now it’s interesting that I did read some suggestions that the scumbag trial lawyer foots the bill. Guess what? That is what we do already. We pay the costs and get a fee if we recover. That is the deterrent that keeps us from taking the frivolous cases that the loonier claim we take.

This is a very tough system for a plaintiff. There is no magic money or jackpot justice. The reality is that they need to fight for every cent. Loser pays rewards those who least deserve it and who do the most to prevent justice.

10 Comments

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  1. Amy Katz says:
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    Thanks for your blog, Mike. I was a witness in Jamie’s trail: I testified to the fact that there had been a persistent and ongoing problem with sexual harassment at KBR’s overseas operations (I had my own case against them for retaliation for reporting sexual harassment and gender discrimination a decade before.) I met Jamie at the trail and can tell you without a shadow of a doubt I believe she believes she was raped. The DOD medic who did the exam after the rape made her think she had been gang raped, though when this medic testified she said she could not say for sure a rape had occurred. As you probably well know, most rape victims never come forward: Jamie did speak up less than 24 after she woke up bruised and wounded, but it was too late to detect the date-rape drug in her system with a blood test. None of this proves that she wasn’t raped or didn’t experience Hell once she realized what had happened.

    The fact that the jury could not find enough evidence to convict Charles Bortz does not prove Jamie was lying. Yet, the media (mostly Houston-based, which is biased in favor of KBR) turned on her viciously the moment the verdict was announced. The news reports make it sound like she was on trial. That is the greatest injustice of all.

    I have to say, after seeing first-hand how the trial went, I am very disillusioned with the process. Halliburton spent 2 million dollars on a team of lawyers that spent countless hours trying to prohibit every one of Jamie’s witnesses from speaking (including me.) It really seemed to me they manipulated the well-meaning Judge by incessently repeating they objected to all of her witnesses taking the stand — the judge told them to stop objecting but they continued, repeating that they wanted their hundreds of objections on the record for the Appeal they would be making. The judge seemed so pressured, he ended up agreeing to not allow vital information in, like the fact the Jamie at the tender age of 18 was sexually harassed into having a sexual relationship with her first supervisor at KBR, when she was 18 and he was over 40 (and not attractive in the least); the main reason she was going to Iraq was to get away from him. Worse, the judge was also persuaded, at the last minute, not to allow testimony that the alleged rapist had been charged with two other assaults against two different woman, and convicted of one of those — shortly after leaving Iraq. Yet, for the two weeks the Defense got to make their case, they demonized Jamie bringing up every aspect of her sexual history. The worst they could say about her was she didn’t seem depressed in Facebook photos or some conversations following the rape, and that kind of thing. It showed such a lack of understanding of human nature or how victims of traumatic events cope. Jamie came across to me as someone who is very nice; someone who has given up her life these past 6 years to take a stand against injustice, and also someone very vulnerable and painfully shy: she was terrified to speak in public, as most people are (I am a college Public Speaking instructor, so I know.) Her husband could not have been more pure of heart and honest, and he supported her like I have never seen anyone stand up for another.

    It seems horrible to me that a rape victim, accident victim, or anyone for that matter have to pay court costs if they don’t win. In a system that demands proof of reasonable doubt, not being able to prove a crime or injustice in no way, shape or form makes the accusers guilty. Yet, this fallacy seems lost on the American public in general.

    Anyway, thanks for your insights, and for standing up for a victim who continues to be victimized in the very worst way. It’s one thing to say there just wasn’t enough evidence to convict the man or the company that stood behind him: that I could understand. But for the media to parrot the rapist’s lawyers and take that for the Truth, and now for the world’s biggest government contractor to sue the victim — this demoralizes us all. Having a professional like you speak up makes this all a tinge less painful.

  2. Mike Bryant says:
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    Wow, thank you for reading and the very insightful comment.

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    I appreciate this article by Mike Bryant and the insightful comment. I attend a lot of Access to Justice conferences that are always attended by legislators, judges and practicing lawyers. They often hit on the platitudes and slogans without actually addressing what happens in cases like this one. We all have to speak up and turn on the lights. I always wonder what happened to the journalists and reporters? They never comment or report on these issues.

  4. Mike Bryant says:
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    When there is a loss, I don’t think that it is easy to talk about. You are correct Wayne, that the media should be telling the story. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Mark Bello says:
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    This brave young woman also told her story in the “Hot Coffee” documentary; if she is a liar, she is the best one I have ever encountered (even better than my kids!) because hers is an extremely compelling story with very little in the way of public rebuttal from the defendant, until the trial. Jamie was betrayed by every “system” she encountered in this saga, from the government to KBR to Halliburton to the courts. Winning wasn’t enough for KBR; now, they want to kick her while she’s down, one more time. And, of course, in the eyes of those who have never been effected by injustice, it is all some “scumbag lawyer’s” fault for pursuing justice for the victim of physical and corporate abuse. If anyone is looking for the real definition of “lawsuit abuse”, they can find it in this case, where a powerful corporation used all of its money, all of its power, and all of its influence to buy the best injustice money could buy. THAT’s “lawsuit abuse”. Wake up America; this can easily happen to you or your precious family members.

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    In Canada we have a “loser pays” rule. The reason is supposedly to discourage claims that have no merit. In practice it has the effect of preventing legitimate claimants from being able to access justice.

    The fact is that it is used a sword by defendants with next to unlimited resources.

    When you tell a claimant who is seriously injured, out of work, and struggling to keep their home from being foreclosed on that if they lose they could be ordered to pay the defendant over a hundred thousand dollars, more often than not they decide not to proceed.

    I have had medical malpractice cases where our experts felt there was negligence and causation on the part of the defendant. But the risk of a cost award versus the potential recovery forced the claimant to abandon their claim.

    No system is perfect, but this rule is one that has become increasingly unfair as litigation has become so expensive.

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    Thanks so much for the article and comments. This is difficult to read and to know the system we all have loved has been manipulated by money, power and influence. Sad indeed!

  8. Mike Bryant says:
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    You make a number of great points Mark and I have envied the blogs you have posted on the topic, Justice is not just a word, but is a vital end result for all involved.

  9. Mike Bryant says:
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    John , you make a very important point about how the defense uses loser pays. It isn’t fair and does scare clients. Thanks for the comment.

  10. Mike Bryant says:
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    Greg, you clearly expressed what I was thinking when I first saw Amy’s comment.