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Explain to me what's the point of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Dirty_Zulu, Mar 17, 2005.

  1. Dirty_Zulu

    Dirty_Zulu IncGamers Member

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    Explain to me what's the point of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

    Let's say a guy gets acquitted from killing his wife and his excuse was he was no where near the scense and in fact he was sleeping with his mistress at a cheap motel.

    The jury acquits the guy but he still gotta face a wrongful death lawsuit. For what? The first jury said he's innocent so why is he still on trial?

    Is the guy somehow liable for his wife's death indirectly cuz he wasn't there to protect her? Were the killers in fact looking for the husband and happens upon the wife and they killded her?
     
  2. Freemason

    Freemason Banned

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    1. Judicially awarded money
    2. Fame
    3. Book deal (made possible by fame)
    4. Millions of dollars from book deal
    5. Money from TV movie deal
     
  3. cotton

    cotton IncGamers Member

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    There are two separate but overlapping systems of justice in this country: criminal and civil. A criminal trial requires the state to convince everyone on a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a criminal act has been committed in order for the state to impose criminal liabilities.

    In a civil trial, one allegedly aggrieved party sues the other in order to receive monetary recompense for the aggrievance. If a majority (sometimes a super majority, depending on jurisdiction) of a jury believes a preponderance of evidence (a much lower standard) shows that the defendant caused the harm, they impose compensatory penalties in the form of monetary awards, and they can also impose punitive penalties as a form of civil penalty on the wrongdoer.

    In English, there are a couple of circumstances where a defendant can be acquitted of his crime and still be found liable for wrongful death. First, defendant can do something to cause a death that is not criminal. If I am a lousy driver and run over Drunk Cajun killing him because I was negligent, I am civally liable for his death but possibly not criminally liable. The second is when the state cannot prove beyond doubt I committed a crime but the civil court's lower standard allows a plaintif to show I am responsible for the death.

    In OJ's case, the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed murder, but in the civil trial, a majority of the jury said the evidence showed it was more likely that he was responsible for the death than not.
     
  4. Peregrine

    Peregrine IncGamers Member

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    The point 99% of the time is to get money because you can't win a criminal trial. It's pure greed, nothing else.
     
  5. Beowulf

    Beowulf IncGamers Member

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    I must agree with that!!!
     
  6. Matt

    Matt IncGamers Site Pal

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    Not always. For example, in the OJ case, or most any case where a procedural defense is succesfully used, and the defendant gets off on on some technicality in the proceedings of the case, though its reasonable to assume he might otherwise have been found guilty... civil suits provide some compensation.

    As Cotton mentioned, this was the case in the OJ trial, where most thought he was guilty, yet he got off because cops mishandled the evidence (I'm pretty sure that was it, something like that anyway).

    -Matt
     
  7. cotton

    cotton IncGamers Member

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    Of course the point is to get money; that is the remedy in civil cases. I will go into tort theory if you like, but I am feeling like a long winded lawyer today, but basically people sue to get money. Feel that this is moral or not; it is the basis of our civil legal system.
     
  8. Peregrine

    Peregrine IncGamers Member

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    If they couldn't get a conviction in criminal court, that's it. They lost, get over it. The reason people take a second chance with the civil suit is to take advantage of a lower burden of proof to get money in defiance of the criminal case's result.

    I know why people sue. But in the case of most of these civil suits, the point is to get money regardless of guilt. They pick somebody who has been found innocent in court once already, then exploit a lower burden of proof to get money for themselves. Nothing's wrong with getting money if they're guilty, but if you've already been tried once for the crime that should be the end of it.
     
  9. Nastie_Bowie

    Nastie_Bowie Banned

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    The Juice got off because a jury of his peers didn't feel that the state presented a good case against him, period. He was acquitted. No technicality involved.

    Nicole's parents (forget name) and the Goldmans went after him for pure greed. Last I heard they hadn't collected a penny and I hope they never do. Go Juice.

    Smacks of double jeopardy, to me, which I thought was illegal in this country. There is something wrong with a judge reversing another courts decision, unless it is part of the appeals process. This does not qualify.

    Don't get me wrong. Juice is guilty as hell. As is Robert Blake. Imho.

    Only in California do movie/sports stars get away with murder and fertilizer salesmen get the death penalty without much evidence.
     
  10. cotton

    cotton IncGamers Member

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    So if I harm somebody, but the act is not criminal, I should not be forced to atone for my harm through monetary damages? Or are you asserting the burden of proof for civil liability should be a unanimous decision that I am liable beyond a resonable doubt? That would certainly cut down on the number of successful lawsuits in this country.

    Look, the OJ jury, for whatever reason, did not believe the state had met their burden to imprison the guy. The civil jury believed the plaintiff met the burden to show that OJ was responsible for the death. Two different juries, two different sets of evidence, two different sets of attorneys, two different burdens to be met. You may disagree with the results in either or both, but it is the way the judicial system was designed to function. The "not guilty" verdict in the first case does not mean he is not responsible, only that the state did not prove he committed a criminal act. The civil verdict said the plaintiff proved he was responsible.

    EDIT: Double jeapordy only applies to CRIMINAL prosecution. He was not tried criminally twice for the same crime. The safeguards of double jeapordy and a higer burden are in place in criminal proceedings because the US judicial system places a higher value on freedom than on monetary damages. The state must jump through higher hoops in order to take someone's freedom than an individual (Goldmans) does to take someone's money.

    And if someone were responsible for the death of my daughter, I would want them to atone in whatever manner was available. Money, although not a replacement for a departed loved one, is about the only option available.
     
  11. Peregrine

    Peregrine IncGamers Member

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    That's two entirely different cases. If you're talking about non-criminal harm, yes, you might have a valid lawsuit. But what the initial question is talking about is a civil suit after the defendant has been found innocent of those actions in criminal court. The case has already been prosecuted, and the defendant won. Refusing to accept that verdict and going to civil court instead of the normal criminal appeals process is pure greed.

    And yes, I think a unanimous decision for civil cases would be just fine. There's plenty of stupid lawsuits I wouldn't mind seeing rejected because of the tougher burden of proof.

    Which, our law system or not, is completely wrong. He was found not guilty. A criminal court looked at the evidence for each side, and rejected the prosecution's claim that he was the one who did it. The civil case was simple greed, they wanted money, so they went for a lower burden of proof and tried to get some. This is in no way fair, we have an appeals process for a reason. You don't just ignore the criminal case and put your need for money above the need for justice.

    If he was found responsible in the civil case, and this was a legitimate finding of guilt, not a greedy "victim" persuading a jury to give them money, why wasn't the same verdict reached in the criminal case? Why didn't the criminal appeal find him guilty? Was there even a criminal appeal? Must not have been very convincing evidence, if they could only win in civil court with a much easier burden of proof.

    Maybe you should consider that maybe he wasn't guilty?
    Oh really? Then why do criminal cases which result in fines, not prison time still have the same burden of proof?

    Legal loophole or not, it is double jeapordy. They're trying the exact same case with the exact same arguments, but in a place they're more likely to win. Not because it's a purely civil case, but because they refuse to accept defeat and want a new trial.

    Good for you, so would most people. But that doesn't mean you get to manipulate the justice system into giving it to you, regardless of what the court decides about the defendant's guilt or innocence. You don't have the right to endlessly try someone for the same crime until you finally get a guilty verdict.
     
  12. cotton

    cotton IncGamers Member

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    Man, like it or not, that is our justice system. It was not manipulated, it was designed that way. It is NOT double jeapordy, because he was only tried criminally ONCE. ONCE means SINGLE. So he is not being tried repeatedly for the same crime. He has been tried for the crime once and acquitted. I do consider the fact that OJ is not guilty, mainly because the trial to decide his guilt found him not guilty. A subsequent trial also found him liable in Nicole's death, an act for which he is not criminally liable.
     
  13. jimmyboy

    jimmyboy IncGamers Member

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    Two reasons:
    1. money
    2. getting even

    If you were the victim's family, and you can't throw him in jail, you'd want the next best thing - bankrupting the bastard. Bring me OJ.

    Besides, you're not suing for murder or conspiracy (yes Cotton, I know, it's civil not criminal but let's keep it simple). So we're not going to decide on murder or conspiracy this time - just wrongful death.
     
  14. jimmyboy

    jimmyboy IncGamers Member

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    Easy Cotton. I can see the veins popping out of your forehead. Remember that you're explaining the law to laymen. You can't just lay down the law, you have to justify it. Hint: stay away from the law.
     
  15. cotton

    cotton IncGamers Member

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    That's pretty much what I've been trying to say anyway. Ah, well, its St. Patty's, so I am going to go drink green beer until I see aliens. I have promised Prof. Blasto in another thread.
     

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