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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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Faces of Lawsuit Abuse: William Pycke

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Faces of Lawsuit Abuse: William PyckeThe United States Chamber of Commerce has an entire web site created through its anti-justice lobbying arm, the Institute for Legal Reform, dedicated to "Faces of Lawsuit Abuse". (You can view the U.S. Chamber's page here (tagged "nofollow" to avoid extra "Google juice"). The U.S. Chamber's site focuses solely on defendants (and mostly on corporate defendants) without any examples of the other side.

William Pycke is one of those examples. William was my client and was severely injured in March 2005 through no fault of his own. And when I say "no fault of his own" I really mean it. William was struck by a car… while he was sitting inside a building. The car, driven by a correctional worker, ran off of the roadway, crashed through the building, slammed into William, and knocked him through a wall.

If this isn't a shut and dry case, I don't know what is. But because of the defendant and his tactics, the case was far from shut and dry.

The defendant refused to accept responsibility for the crash and William's injuries. Yes, you read that correctly, the defendant disputed liability for driving his car though a building. He maintained through the trial and a subsequent arbitration of this case that he was not at fault and not responsible for driving his car off the road and crashing through the building.

Then he called William Pycke a liar. He said William was faking his injuries. The driver claimed William wasn't hurt even though brain scans, X-rays, and numerous doctors showed the extent of William's injuries. The defendant's claims were baseless. The defendant didn't have a single doctor to back him up, but made the claims anyway.

PET Scan Images Showing Injury to Pycke's Brain Medical Illustration Showing Damage to Pycke's Brain

PET Brain Scan & Medical Illustration Showing Brain Damage

The crash permanently injured the frontal lobe of William's brain. Frontal lobe damage results in diminished judgment and capacity, impulsiveness, severe headaches, short term memory loss, and comprehension defects. William's brain injury altered his personality and has made him prone to lapses in judgment and inability to control impulsive behavior. William's injury also resulted in severe mood swings and chronic depression.

While the driver that crashed into William maintained his frivolous defenses, William was left to fend for himself. When the crash occurred, William was at his job working. He was supporting his family. But following the crash, William was unable to work, had massive medical bills and his family was forced to rely on welfare assistance and food stamps.

Finally, more than four years after the crash, after numerous depositions, experts, and a mistrial, William received an arbitration award 20 times higher than his initial demand made only months after the crash happened. This defendant's refusal to accept responsibility and delay tactics harmed not only William and William's family, but the defendant himself.

When you hear the U.S. Chamber or some other corporate organization talking about tort reform or "lawsuit abuse" be sure to ask them about the other side of the story.

The 7th Amendment right to trial is perhaps the most important fundamental civil right ensured by our Constitution. In fact, deprivation of civil justice was one of the offenses of the King specifically enumerated in the Declaration of Independence.

"For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:"

The Founders understood the importance of the right to trial by jury. Yet this fundamental right "endowed by [our] Creator" is under nearly constant attack today. Corporations require you to sign this right away when purchasing something as mundane as a cell phone or concert ticket. Commentators disparage this fundamental right as nothing more than "frivolous lawsuits", "lawsuit abuse" and "jackpot justice".

Don't talk to William Pycke about "jackpot justice". William never asked for what happened to him. William wanted to avoid litigation and avoid a lawsuit, but was forced to protect his rights by a defendant who refused to accept responsibility causing the harm. William's verdict was no "jackpot", but it will hopefully allow him to provide for his family and avoid the drag on society that occurs when injured victims are forced into welfare by defendants who refuse to accept responsibility.

When "tort reform" bails out irresponsible individuals and corporations or defendants engage in frivolous defenses that delay justice, tax payers end up with the bill. Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid pays for the medical care that should be born by the responsible party. Welfare, food stamps and other government assistance pays for housing, shelter, transportation and other basic needs that should be born by the responsible party. Many victims are left to financial ruin, bankruptcy and poverty because the responsible party avoids responsibility and accountability.

The Founders understood — and perhaps we should be reminded — that we as a society must take responsibility when we wrong someone. If we are not accountable for our actions, then society if forced to pay for our transgressions and care for those we hurt.

[More Faces of Lawsuit Abuse]

[More on your 7th Amendment Rights]

[More on Frivolous Defenses]

(c) Copyright 2011 Brett A. Emison

1 Comment

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  1. Mark Bello says:
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    Brett: Great article! Those of us in the trenches are not shocked by the defense tactics in this case. “Delay, deny, confuse and refuse” have become commonplace in the litigation arena, these days. Hopefully, brilliant articles like this one that shine a bright light on the “lawsuit abuse” practiced by insurance companies and defendants when honest, hard working citizens and seriously injured or killed through no fault of their own. Keep up the good work by exposing these despicable tactics. And please let me know if my company, Lawsuit Financial, can be of service when the defense deliberately cause your clients financial hardship using these “delay, deny” policies.