When I read a newspaper article, I assume it is true. Why I do this defies logic and reason.
A little paper near my home with a limited budget wrote an article on a pedestrian accident wrongful death case in Prince George’s County. You probably never heard of the paper. It is called the Washington Post.
The Post writes an article on a $90 million verdict in this case. You should read the comments – you have to read the comments – about the case. People are outraged!
The article left out one important details that could have nipped this conversation in the bud: there is a $100,000 cap on the claim. If there was not, there would have been a $680,000 cap.
It is crazy that the Washington Post can’t even reference the possibility the County will not be forking over the full $90 million.
Are they lacking this level of accuracy when it comes to, say, North Korea. “Tensions are increasing as North Korea aims new mid-range missiles at Seoul.” Do you think they leave out supporting facts like, “The missiles are armed with water.”
I get the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and probably 10 different news magazines. Everything except for the Post rarely gets more than a passing glance. So it is particularly scary that my go-to source is putting out an article like this that is so unbelievably out of extent as to make the entire article more uninformative than informative for readers. If you are a layperson trying to understand our civil justice system in Maryland or even what will actually happen in this case, you would be better off not reading this article. That is a sad commentary.
I realize newspapers need to sell papers. So I tolerate it when they bury the lead and put it at the bottom of an article like this “This case is capped at $100,000 so after attorneys’ fee, this poor family will get less than $60,000 for the loss of their dead daughter.” But we don’t even get that here.
Maryland used to have a related problem when it came to the amount of money sought in a lawsuit. “Woman sues for $100 million because because she fractured her pinky toe” was a common newspaper headline. These headlines all painted the same picture: greedy plaintiff looking to get something that they don’t deserve through the civil justice system. Never mind that woman and often people who are killed by reckless conduct of a doctor are usually capped under $1 million in any recovery they could get under Maryland law. Never mind that that amount of money sought in a case might be the most irrelevant part of a victim’s claim.
Now, Maryland has a new law that puts this mostly in check. You no longer ask for an amount other than asking that it be more than $75,000 in serious injury or death cases. Why just mostly in check? Because too many lawyers do not know the law exists. So they keep filing suits for $100 million and newspapers like the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post will continue to gleefully publish this as it if is any reflection upon the case.