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Billion Dollar Lawsuit

I filed a billion dollar lawsuit today on behalf of a car accident victim. The lawsuit arose out of a rear end auto accident where the Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and back that did not resolve until eight weeks later.


Okay, I really did not do that. But how would the media report that lawsuit? They would call it a billion dollar lawsuit simply because that is what I put in the ad damnum clause at the end of the complaint.

In Maryland, we do not have to put money damages in the ad damnum clause in medical malpractice cases but we must in other personal injury cases. The news media always uses that number to define a lawsuit yet the number has so little meaning it is not even admissible at trial in Maryland.

This comes to mind because of Dennis Kucinich’s stupid lawsuit against the House of Representatives cafeteria because there was an olive pit in his sandwich. My ultra liberal friends, maybe, uh, it is for the best this guy never became president beyond just the fact that he probably would have dismantled the Army. Certainly, public figures have a right to bring a lawsuit but they probably should raise the bar a little higher. Let me suggest the “Would Ron Miller take this case?” standard. I would not touch this case with a ten foot pole if Dennis Kucinich called me himself.

Anyway, the story was spun with a “$150,000 for an olive pit!” spin which is hardly indicia of the value Kucinich places on the case. He may ask a jury for $2,000 and he may have filed the lawsuit out of some principle. Who knows?

What is the point to all of this? Good question, I was trying to get back there. I believe the Maryland General Assembly should pass a law< similar to the one passed in West Virginia that gets rid of ad damnum clauses in all cases. I cannot even understand what a sensible argument would be in opposition to this law. Let a jury decide the value, let substance triumph over form, and make newspapers find another way to sensationalize stories.

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  • http://www.howlandhealthconsulting.com Wendie Howland RN -BC MN CRRN CCM CNLCP

    Politics aside, if you had someone with a broken tooth from an olive pit where none should be, who then had extensive dental work and a hospital admission for complications from the antibiotics prescribed for the infection following the tooth fracture, wouldn’t you go a little higher than $2000? Of course. And if you were in a jurisdiction where you could put a big number on the front page, like $150K, you wouldn’t? I like the idea of “let the jury decide,” and would be interested to see more advocates tone down the sensationalism in getting there. YMMV. And I LOVE doing plaintiff cases!

  • http://www.poppelawfirm.com/blog Hans Poppe

    Agreed. In Kentucky, we are prevented by the Civil Rules from placing a damages amount in our complaint.

  • Ron Miller

    Wendy, I sometimes write these blogs quickly and without a ton of reflection, particularly on digressions like this which is not what the post was about. In hindsight, I should have looked at his side of the case more closely. This is his version of the facts:

    http://www.slate.com/BLOGS/blogs/weigel/archive/2011/01/28/kucinich-settles-in-olive-pit-incident.aspx

    So my position, for those of you keeping score at home, has evolved from mocking his case to having absolutely no opinion on it whatsoever.