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3 CNET Reporters Will Sue HP Seeking Punitive Damages - What's That?
Monday, May 07 2007 @ 12:13 PM EDT

Now, here's a subject after my own heart: three of the CNET reporters that HP surveilled intend to sue over it. Yes, Groklaw will cover it from start to finish, although I expect there will at some point be a settlement. So let's start with explaining punitive damages, because that is what the three, Stephen Shankland, Dawn Kawamoto, and Tom Krazit, are asking the courts for.

Punitive damages is a legal term that basically means enough money so you are not tempted to do it again. Damages means money. It's money the court awards you if the actions of another hurt you. If I fraudulently sell you land for you to build your summer home on, and when you go there to start building you find out it is located in the middle of the ocean 20,000 leagues under the sea, you can tell the court how much you paid me for land you can't build a house on. You are damaged by that amount for sure, and you can aim an arrow right at that check as clear proof of what your actual damages are.

But punitive damages are something quite different. Here's the definition in my Law Dictionary, 2d ed., by Steven H. Gifis:

Compensation in excess of actual damages; a form of punishment to the wrongdoer and excess enhancement to the injured; nominal or actual damages must exist before exemplary damages will be found and then they will be awarded only in instances of malicious and willful misconduct.

Of course, in the law, everything has a definition, and here's how 'LectLaw explains malice and reckless disregard of rights:

Conduct is malicious if it is accompanied by ill will, or spite, or if it is for the purpose of injuring another.

Conduct is in reckless disregard of plaintiff's rights if, under the circumstances, it reflects complete indifference to the safety and rights of others.

Punitive damages, then, are a civil court's method of punishing. Civil law recognizes that sometimes people do bad things willfully and with malice aforethought or with reckless disregard to harm to others, and punitive damages are designed to cover that kind of bad actor, kind of as a civil punishment, because in civil law, you can't throw the guy in jail. That's criminal law. So in civil actions, when you'd like to throw the guy in jail, you can instead sue for punitive damages. Here's how one attorney put it:

"Punitive damages are really, in many respects, an alternative to criminal prosecution," says Paul Jess, general counsel of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers.

That makes a certain practical sense, because money sometimes makes a person more whole than having the bad guy sit in jail, particularly when it's a civil and not a criminal matter, where one might need to protect the community from the bad guy. Both remedies tend to alter the bad guy's behavior, but with punitive damages, you not only get your money back that you lost, your actual damages, you get to see the bad actor punished by the court by having to pay you punishment money, and you get to spend some money you otherwise would not have.

It's not about greed. It's about altering bad behavior by punishing it, and as a deterrent preventing it from happening again. As I've explained before, money is the principal remedy in civil court. No jury can give you back your leg after a doctor cuts it off by mistake, but they can surely make your life a little bit better by making sure you can afford to call a cab when you need to go somewhere. And they can make sure the doctor, or the hospital, never is careless again, out of the fear of having to pay through the nose again. It would be great if everyone was just nice all the time and everyone lived by the Golden Rule, but courts deal with when they are not and they think about themselves more than the rest of us. That is the idea behind punitive damages, so in telling us that the three reporters will seek punitive damages, they are saying they believe what HP did was bad enough to deserve to be punished. They want such conduct to stop, as the lawyer for the New York Times expressed it:

David E. McCraw, a lawyer for The New York Times, said Hewlett-Packard’s spying operations were “designed to interfere with our journalism and, ultimately, to deprive our readers of information of importance to them.”

He added that the newspaper was not looking for financial gain, but a settlement with the money donated to a worthy cause.

In short, they wish the incident to make enough of a dent on corporate consciousness that it doesn't happen again. That is the purpose of punitive damages. McCraw again:

“The New York Times Company appreciates the steps that H.P. has taken to remedy the situation,” Mr. McCraw said, “but we believe H.P. can and should do more to acknowledge the harm that was done and to demonstrate to other companies that may be tempted to engage in similar conduct that this is not an offense that carries no consequences.”

HP can't do a thing to make these journalists truly whole. Nothing. Their view of the world is altered forever. They and their families will never feel completely, fully relaxed, the way we do when we are all alone and know no one is watching us. We can let our hair down, walk barefoot, scratch, pick our noses, whatever we do in private that we'd never do in public where issues of propriety rule. There's an interesting essay that I read as part of a course Berkman Center ran on privacy in cyberspace that said that our humanness actually depends on that kind of privacy. It's how we renew and are our true selves. The essay is still available in the readings for the course which are laudably still made available to the world, "Privacy Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life," by Janna Malamud Smith. One of the worst punishments is total surveillance, the essay points out, where you can't even go to the bathroom in privacy:

One way of beginning to understand privacy is by looking at what happens to people in extreme situations where it is absent. Recalling his time in Auschwitz, Primo Levi observed that "solitude in a Camp is more precious and rare than bread." Solitude is one state of privacy, and even amidst the overwhelming death, starvation, and horror of the camps, Levi knew he missed it.... Levi spent much of his life finding words for his camp experience. How, he wonders aloud in Survival in Auschwitz, do you describe "the demolition of a man," an offense for which "our language lacks words."...

Our function of privacy is to provide a safe space away from terror or other assaultive experiences. When you remove a person's ability to sequester herself, or intimate information about herself, you make her extremely vulnerable....

The totalitarian state watches everyone, but keeps its own plans secret. Privacy is seen as dangerous because it enhances resistance. Constantly spying and then confronting people with what are often petty transgressions is a way of maintaining social control and unnerving and disempowering opposition.... And even when one shakes real pursuers, it is often hard to rid oneself of the feeling of being watched -- which is why surveillance is an extremely powerful way to control people. The mind's tendency to still feel observed when alone... can be inhibiting. ... Feeling watched, but not knowing for sure, nor knowing if, when, or how the hostile surveyor may strike, people often become fearful, constricted, and distracted.

That article deeply affected my thinking, and it's one reason why I cherish my privacy and have never been interested in being a celebrity. While the article focuses on the extremes, in the part I quoted, I can extrapolate, and it's why to this day, I keep up with privacy issues and why I try to protect not only my privacy, but yours. It's why I've never allowed Google ads, for example, relying instead on the community's contributions, even though I could have made a lot of money personally from Google ads, with our traffic. The article goes on, by the way, to define solitude and privacy, beginning here. I highly recommend reading all the excerpts. You will surely find it worth your time. There was a second course on the same subject in 2002, just so you don't get confused.

Those CNET journalists have a touch of that feeling described in that essay, and they always will. I know because I have it too. Until it happens to you, you can't even imagine what it feels like to be spied on. Try, though, and then multiply by a thousand. That will give you a small idea of the damage, the psychological damage. HP will of course argue that it didn't as a corporate body intend to do these things, that it was a few rogues, and in any case, it had no malice. Of course, that doesn't answer the reckless disregard issue. But if it's true, as I recall them stating at the time, that it's commonplace for corporations to do surveillance and investigations, what is the effect on journalism now? On our culture? I think you can see why journalists would be concerned.

As you read in the legal definition, you can't sue for punitive damages unless there have been actual damages. So what might those be here? Think about what a journalist does for a living. He looks for news, something no one yet knows about. That's the job. Or a big part of it. So journalists depend very much on people feeling free to contact them and tell them little bits of news that they can follow up on. Journalists work to develop such contacts. For the journalists that we know were followed and pretexted, detectives and maybe others got lists of who called them on the phone and who they called and when and where. Will folks want to call them now? Will they pick up the phone if they see on Caller ID it is one of those reporters? If you were telling a journalist something that your company would prefer you not tell, would you now? Who wants to call up a reporter with a scoop whose name is plastered all over the world as being spied on by a honking huge corporation if you need anonymity? Journalists are brave, by definition, in that what they do can be dangerous and they realize that. Just look at the stats sometimes on which jobs have the shortest life expectancy. But their informants may or may not be brave.

Not only that, but some media entities have certain regulations about what a reporter can cover. At CNET, for example, none of the three can now cover HP. So is there damage to those journalists' careers? Obviously that will be the argument made in court to demonstrate actual damages. If you are a tech reporter, and now you can't cover a major tech company, are you damaged? Worse, might a cynical corporation wishing to get a good journalist off a story deliberately tail them so as to get the journalist banned from covering them from that point on? After covering SCO, one thinks of everything as being conceivable. And then, speaking of SCO, there's the issue of using whatever is dug up to try to discredit a journalist.

So that is what the lawsuit will be about, I gather. Can you see why journalists care about this issue so much? Why they should care? What if every corporation starts to investigate all journalists who they can't get to hop into their pockets and report only what the corporations want reported? What happens to news then? You know what happens? It becomes press releases. So the New York Times is also pursuing legal relief, not just its reporter, John Markoff. And CNET may sue separately from its reporters.

All three of the CNET reporters are represented by Kevin R. Boyle, a lawyer in the Los Angeles firm of Panish, Shea & Boyle. The BusinessWeek reporters and John Markoff of the New York Times are represented by a San Francisco lawyer, Terry Gross, who also represents the Times. HP is represented by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius of Philadelphia. What about the other victims? They are continuing to pursue settlement talks, which means further litigation is possible. The two reporters from the Wall Street Journal do not seek compensation, which in my view is a shame, although I do understand not wanting to be bothered with litigation.


3 CNET Reporters Will Sue HP Seeking Punitive Damages - What's That? | 336 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: entre on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 12:24 PM EDT
For PJ

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT here, please
Authored by: Jude on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 12:29 PM EDT
And please make your links clickable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

But Bullwinkle, that trick *never* works!
Authored by: Jude on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 12:33 PM EDT
> In short, they wish the incident to make enough of a dent on
> corporate consciousness that it doesn't happen again.

The damages in these kinds of cases never seem to be large enough to have the
desired effect. I'd guess the award would have to exceed $100 million to really
get HP's attention, and I doubt the court would allow an award of that

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ, will you ever go after SCO?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 12:52 PM EDT
Just curious - will you ever pursue any damages against SCO or any of their
cronies? I'm guessing not - but it would be cool to see that. You think it's
something you'd consider down the line?

[ Reply to This | # ]

3 CNET Reporters Will Sue HP Seeking Punitive Damages - What's That?
Authored by: bradley13 on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 01:07 PM EDT
As PJ explains, punitive damages are meant to be a deterrent (and, frankly,
punishment) for having done something wrong. As I understand it, they are
basically the civil equivalent of a criminal prosecution.

Fine. But - who should get the damages? I assert that it is a grotesque error in
the system to award the damages to these three reporters. They are not claiming
direct damages of any kind - those would be separate.

PJ says "it's not about greed". But it is! Giving the punitive damages
to the (un-)injured party is part of what makes the US legal system resemble a
lottery, because - if you can get them awarded against a big company - they can
vastly exceed the value of any real damages suffered.

Punitive damages as part of a criminal case make sense - they are a fine.
Allowing civil suits to award compensation for real damages to injured parties
also makes sense. But punitive damages awarded in a civil case seem to me an
absolutely perverse combination of the two.

I'd be interested in opinions and comments...

[ Reply to This | # ]

3 CNET Reporters Will Sue HP Seeking Punitive Damages - What's That?
Authored by: tredman on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 01:14 PM EDT
One thing that struck me most about the circumstances here is that, until the
whole HP thing hit the fan, most of this could be blown off as theoretical. How
many times have we heard large corporations, politicians and other power brokers
tell us not to worry about something because it's all hypothetical, and
something like that could never _really_ happen.

This is what happens when you turn the hypothetical into the practical. Sure,
there are conspiracy theories and crackpot dreams abounding everywhere,
particularly in cyberspace. But even without the advantage of hindsight, I
think most people could look back and say that the repercussions of an HP-style
pretexting were certainly plausible. I know my first reaction when the whole
story broke was not that it happened at all, but that it took so long for it to
be a big deal. Hollow "anti-pretexting" legislation aside, I thought
this was one of the main reasons why we had wire fraud laws in place.

I believe that it's a lesson to all of us that, though we shouldn't have to live
in a paranoid world, we should still be vigilant to protect our rights.

"I drank what?" - Socrates, 399 BCE

[ Reply to This | # ]

Google Ads
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 01:18 PM EDT
I personally don't care if Google knows I go to Groklaw. In fact, I am a big
Google user, so Google already knows a lot about me.

I also know how to control cookies and such that might track me (doubleclick
knows nothing).

Is there a way you can setup a separate set of pages (or even a different style
sheet? (IANAWD)) that allows me to support your site via Google adsense, but in
an opt-in kind of way, so that those similarly situated can also opt-in?

[ Reply to This | # ]

What corporations can get away with because they are corporations
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 01:20 PM EDT
While I wish the journalists luck in pressing their case, I don't see how the
court can leverage any penalty severe enough to dissuade individuals in a
corporation from acting the same way. HP as a company didn't do anything to the
journalists, all of it was perpetrated by people working for HP or on HPs board.
If you want to dissuade corporations from acting badly then punish their
executives and directors for things done, even if you still take money from the

Corporations tend to have this veil that has to be penetrated to really find out
who did what and when and sometimes that veil is hard or impossible to overcome.
And I don't buy the argument that if you punish individuals for corporate
wrongdoing that you can't have people effectively running a company. There's no
excuse for not punishing people who did others harm, even if it was done in the
name of a company. Plain and simple.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Balance In All Things
Authored by: sproggit on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 02:24 PM EDT
When considering a case like this, it might help to think about the context of
corporations and their elected officials in both a practical and a legal sense.

The concept of 'Corporations' is a common one in most western democracies, as
far as I am aware. The short explanation - and if we're lucky someone with more
experience than I might be able to respond to this post with a clarification -
would be to say that 'companies' or 'corporations' are effectively a 'virtual
person'. That is to say that for the purposes of the legal system [and
associated concepts like taxation] then a company is a virtual person whose
business dealings are executed by a board of directors. Depending on the type of
corporation - and there are often a small number of variations in most legal
systems - different laws apply.

But, of course, life is never this simple. One of the best examples of the
differences between a real person and a corporation comes with income taxes. For
example, it is quite common to see 'income' taxes charged at wildly different
rates when comparing individuals and corporations. It is also typical for
corporations to be legally allowed to deduct their operating expenses before
tax, while individuals tend to pay tax first and all the rest of their expenses
are funded by whatever is left. So in short the playing field is not quite

Where this gets interesting is with respect to accountability. Corporations
typically appoint directors to oversee the proper running of that business.
Directors have certain legal rights and responsibilities, which, again, are
usually enshrined in the applicable 'company laws' of the nation, state or

So, in theory, these company laws should set boundaries of rights and
responsiblities for directors of companies. When a company acts in a bad way,
then it's directors, those individuals who represent the 'body corporate' bear
the responsibility for the company's actions.

In theory.

In practice this does not seem to happen very often. In recent years, however,
we have seen scandals (Enron, Worldcomm) where lawmakers have turned their
attention towards company directors who have been flagrantly disbeying the law.
In the case of Enron, for example, there was a clear connection between the
actions of the directors and loss of savings on the part of employees and

So this case with HP is going to be very interesting indeed. Although we've seen
a certain amount of plea bargaining going on, the fact of the matter remains
that when they signed on as directors, all members of the HP board should (in
theory at least) have become legally liable for the actions of that

If it, as a company, broke the law, then they as directors are accountable for
those transgressions.

If the legal system fails to find in this way, the message that is effectively
being given out is: "Want to break the law? Don't do it yourself, just form
a corporation and you have a safety net!"

In many ways - I hope - the level of public awareness with the HP pretexting
scandal will force the judicial system into a more responsible view of the
relationship between corporations and their directors and the corporate
responsibility that those directors have for the actions of the companies they

Let's be direct here: excluding the non-Exective Directors (i.e. those who do
not get compensated for their work because they provide a governance or
oversight function) it's probably fair to say that directors of the big
corporations are all very well rewarded for their "work". They don't
work longer hours than their employees. The biggest single difference between a
shop-floor worker and a director is the responsibility - accountability if you
like - that they take for the actions of the entire corporation.

What we have to avoid is allowing directors to take all the rewards but not take
the responsiblity. It should not be possible to have one without the other.

One way to think about the potential likely outcome in the case of the HP
scandal would be to ask yourself what you would expect to happen if, instead of
a large company like HP, there were a single rich individual engaged in
pretexting and spying on journalists. Now, in that scenario, ask yourself what
you would expect to happen to that person?
Now compare your answer to that question with what you would expect to see
happen in the case of HP and HP's directors. If there is any difference, then we
could argue that the law is not being observed in an even-handed fashion.

Balance, in all things.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Level of Punitive Damages
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 02:27 PM EDT
How is the level of punitive damages set? Is it in relation to the actual
damages, or the wealth of the defendant or what?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Malicious and willful misconduct
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 02:39 PM EDT
"...then they will be awarded only in instances of malicious and willful

Must both conditions apply or either?

[ Reply to This | # ]

You're great PJ, but I don't agree with you this time
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 03:37 PM EDT
"It's not about greed."

Speaking as a doctor trying to practice surgery, it is utterly ludicrous to say
trial law is "not about greed". It is *all* about money. It is a
lottery system where bad outcomes are sometimes compensated with huge awards and
sometimes compensated with nothing.

"It's about altering bad behavior by punishing it, and as a deterrent
preventing it from happening again."

As other posters have pointed out, if the object is punishment and not
compensation, then why does the money
go to the plaintiff (and even worse, 40% to the plaintiff's attorney)? The
ethics involved are those of bounty hunters.

"No jury can give you back your leg after a doctor cuts it off by mistake,
but they can surely make your life a little bit better by making sure you can
afford to call a cab when you need to go somewhere. And they can make sure the
doctor, or the hospital, never is careless again, out of the fear of having to
pay through the nose again."

Think about what you just said - it is so offensive to me as a doctor that I am
having trouble staying within Groklaw's admirable policy regarding polite
discourse. Do you really think doctors are so greedy and callous that the only
thing preventing carelessness is the fear of litigation? I recently lost a
patient after a complex, extremely difficult operation in which I made a mistake
that proved to be fatal. We surgeons are human, and no amount of care or
training will reduce the probability of serious errors to zero. I do not know if
I will be sued, or, if I am, what will be the outcome, but I certainly can tell
you that I am extremely shaken by this case. I suspect that drivers involved in
fatal auto accidents probably have similar feelings. The "fear of having
to pay through the nose" has nothing to do with it.

Now, you may say that you were only talking about punitive damages, which in
principal should only apply to truly egregious misconduct. Therefore, if I am
in fact conscientious and competent, I shouldn't have to worry, right?
Unfortunately, it really doesn't work that way. If a medical malpractice case
involves a spectacularly bad
outcome, like my patient, the chances are very good that a lay jury can be
convinced that the doctor must have done something outside the standards of care
for such a healthy person to die. In my state, at least, jury selection means
that most educated people will be disqualified by the plaintiff's side as being
likely to be biased. Certainly, no one with any health care background will be
allowed to be in a medical malpractice jury.

Even if the plaintiff cannot get punitive damages, the noneconomic damages
("pain and suffering") are still a lottery, and extremely large awards
are possible. A few years ago the Florida legislature passed "tort
reform" laws to cap such awards at $500,000, but the law is basically a
joke, because the cap does not apply "in cases of death or serious
injury", meaning, I guess, that the jury can award a half-million for minor

I could go on for a while, but my point is that the fear of punitive damages is
most certainly *not* the reason
that doctors try not to make careless mistakes - we try to be careful because we
care about our patients. It is emotionally devastating for everyone involved,
including the doctor, when a mishap of any sort leads to catastrophic

(P.S - I am posting anonymously due to my comments about my unfortunate surgical

[ Reply to This | # ]

US Attorney Kevin Ryan
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 06:55 PM EDT

Note that he was involved in the HP pretexting case, and he was forced out. Also note that HP also settled the California Civil case. Basically, the story was buried.

So, this case will be interesting in that maybe additional information will come out.


You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Fines with Impact: Finnish Fines Find Favor with Friends of Fairness
Authored by: tce on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 10:08 PM EDT
Speaking of Fairness: Nokia boss gets record speeding fine [bbc]

What say we make fines an actual punnsihment, regardless of how insolated / isolated your money makes you feel.

Maybe this can happen in the USA right after we stop the connection between Congress and (corporate) Cash.
Cash is not Speech.
Cash is Property used to buy Property or Services(!).

[ Reply to This | # ]

3 CNET Reporters Will Sue HP Seeking Punitive Damages - What's That?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 07 2007 @ 10:58 PM EDT
a company that makes google and apple look really really really good.

NoSoft .. :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

3 CNET Reporters Will Sue HP Seeking Punitive Damages - What's That?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 08 2007 @ 01:06 AM EDT
An evil empire.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Punitive damages inherently unjust
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 08 2007 @ 01:45 AM EDT

The concept of punitive damages is flawed, because "punishment" is something that can, and should, be dealt with by criminal law.

To punish someone under criminal law, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the action that is alleged. Now, of course, that standard of proof has been eroded over the years, and nowadays in practice is only slightly north of "he probably did it". But it is still a stricter standard than the standard of proof in civil law, in which there is no presumption of innocence, and the standard of proof is merely the balance of probability. And it's surely right that if you're going to punish somebody, a strict standard of proof should apply.

[ Reply to This | # ]

(in)famous McDonalds Coffee Case.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 08 2007 @ 03:38 AM EDT
It's used (with a judicious censoring of pertinent facts) by those who want to justify limiting punitive damages, but it actually turns out to be the perfect example of why they work:
It's the old lady who was scalded by her coffee, and ended up suing McDonalds to the tune of $15M.

The point of that is that most of it consisted of (aptly calculated) punitive damages.

The lady was scalded so badly that she ended up with ~$150K worth of medical fees, but McDonalds was only offering her a fraction of that. She was so incensed that she went on with the lawsuit, ... then she started getting disclosures. It turns out that MS was purposefully making the coffe just a few degrees hotter than their competitionn-- The difference between painfully hot, and hot enough to cause injury.

The reason why they did it was that they were advertising "unlimited refills", but they wanted to limit the number of refills, so they made it hot enough to burn your mouth when you got it. .. By the time it had cooled down enough for you to drink it, you were likely to be finished your meals, and you would get (at most) one refill before you left.

Now, here's the kicker They actually estimated how many people would be injured by this change, and figured that if you kept the settlements below a certain point (essentially what they offered the plaintif), they'd still make a tidy profit (the difference between new business from the 'unlimited' promise, and the costs of paying out to injured customers).

When the jury decided against McDonalds, they calculated how much McDs made from their decision to willfully injure customers in the name of increased profits, and awarded those profits (as punitive damages) to the plaintif.

Suddenly, McDonalds dropped the temperature of their coffee -- and I can promise you it wasn't because they regretted the pain and suffering of their customers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

3 CNET Reporters Will Sue HP Seeking Punitive Damages - What's That?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 08 2007 @ 08:16 AM EDT
I think an improvement can be made to the comment that starts with "Silly
People!_____ Microsoft".
Actually its

[ Reply to This | # ]

Punitive Damages - Fundamentally Wrong
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 08 2007 @ 12:28 PM EDT
Sorry PJ, you seem to think the idea of punitive damages is great. Here in the rest of the world it is precisely what seems all wrong about the US justice system. You ought to listen to the cynical and derisive talk in any English pub after one of your higher profile cases - I well remember the McDonalds spilt coffee case mentioned by someone here for example

You say : "It's not about greed. It's about altering bad behavior by punishing it, and as a deterrent preventing it from happening again. As I've explained before, money is the principal remedy in civil court."

Sorry, it is all about greed, unless you are very differently informed about human nature from myself.

It should be the victim's right to be paid for all they have suffered, and to claim for it. OTOH it should only be the State's right to punish wrong-doers over and above reparation for damage, otherwise punishment is too arbitrary. The state may seem a arbitrary at times, but that's nothing compared with the arbitrary nature of individuals.

PJ says : "No jury can give you back your leg after a doctor cuts it off by mistake, but they can surely make your life a little bit better by making sure you can afford to call a cab when you need to go somewhere."

But future taxi fares should be considered in the award of the non-punitive damages. That is exactly what they are for, surely. The $15 million quoted somewhere here for a hot coffee spillage is not necessary for taxi fares! Apart from the surgeon's fee for cutting off your leg (in teh US anyway), a lost leg in itself does not cost any more. It is those taxi fares and other aids that you should sue for in those non-punitive damages.

If it is really not about greed, then the punitive damages should be a fine and go to a charity, perhaps for amputees in that case, for the general good of those people many of whom will not have been in a position to sue anyone - not be given as a windfall to that particular victim.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Do You Get?
Authored by: BassSinger on Tuesday, May 08 2007 @ 02:22 PM EDT
Well, the possibilities are endless. But one that comes to mind is:


But I think I prefer:

MiNoDe (pronounced My Node)

Because, as we all know, Microsoft begins with MIne!

In A Chord,


"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created
them." -- Albert Einstein

[ Reply to This | # ]

3 CNET Reporters Will Sue HP Seeking Punitive Damages - What's That?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 10 2007 @ 03:20 AM EDT
I love HP lappies. Design has been improving constantly since Fiona's

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