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    September 2011      Subscribe   |   
 
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In This Issue
• Four Who Made a Difference
Award-Nominating Criteria
Vote Now for 2011 Awards

 
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Your Law Firm

Diane Flaherty
(952) 546-5411
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Dear Diane,

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The Result: A More Just America

Four very different cases, one common thread: average folks working through the system to defend themselves against the powers that be. The 2011 Justice Served Awards honors their commitment and courage to stand up for what's right. Vote for your favorite case (see our nominating criteria below), and we'll enter you in our drawing to win the DVD Hot Coffee, the documentary selected for the prestigious Sundance Film Festival that features all four of these courageous individuals.

StellaThe infamous hot coffee controversy. In 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck spilled hot McDonald’s coffee on her lap. When a jury found that McDonald’s was “willful, wanton and reckless” in keeping its coffee dangerously hot despite 700 previous scalding cases, the jury awarded Stella $2.7 million in punitive damages (about what the company makes in two days on coffee sales). Despite the fact that Liebeck suffered horrendous third-degree burns over 16 percent of her body and only asked the fast-food giant to pay her medical bills, big business interests used the case as a springboard to limit the legal rights of Americans through “tort reform.” Read more about Stella’s case.

StellaOne family’s tragedy and a cap on damages. Colin Gourley (shown here left of identical twin brother Connor) was born with severe cerebral palsy because of a failed diagnosis and a botched surgery. The Gourleys were awarded $5.6 million by a jury in a medical malpractice suit, the amount of money they determined Colin would need for a lifetime of proper care. Because of a Nebraska damage cap, however, Colin and the Gourleys were awarded much less. The Gourleys challenged the cap on damages as unconstitutional and took their case all the way to the Nebraska Supreme Court. Read more about Colin and his case.

StellaA respected justice becomes a political target. When several tort reform measures (including damage caps) were ruled unconstitutional by various state supreme courts during the 1990s, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce set out to elect judges who saw things their way. In 2000, Justice Oliver Diaz found himself in the crosshairs of a million-dollar, Chamber-financed attack campaign to remove him from the bench. Despite long odds, he won reelection only to be indicted (and eventually cleared) on several bogus charges of bribery and tax evasion. His story and struggle to protect the integrity of the judicial system became the premise for John Grisham's best-selling novel The Appeal. Read more about Justice Diaz's case.

JamieA young woman's fight to be heard. Mere days after arriving in Iraq for a new job with KBR (a former subsidiary of massive defense contractor Halliburton), Jamie Leigh Jones was allegedly raped by coworkers. When she tried to sue her employer, she was denied her day in court because of a mandatory arbitration clause in her employment contract. Jamie went on to start a foundation dedicated to others who are victimized while working for government contractors. Her ordeal also prompted the U.S. Senate to pass an amendment prohibiting mandatory arbitration clauses in Defense Department contracts. Read more about Jamie's case.

Justice Served Awards Nominating Criteria

The Justice Served Awards celebrate the stories of clients and their attorneys who take on powerful interests and demand change in a court of law. By doing so, they have made America and other countries throughout the world a safer and more just place to live. Once a year, we ask our readers to vote for their favorite case, the one they think deserves the Justice Served Award. Nominees must achieve any of the following criteria:

  • Uncover negligence or other irresponsible behavior by organizations that put their interests ahead of the public interest
  • Prompt government action by shedding new light on defective products, services or other practices
  • Trigger manufacturing and quality assurance practices that lead to safer products and services
  • Increase public awareness that helps prevent additional injuries and protects an individual's right to civil justice in a court of law

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Justice Served Awards Survey
The Justice Served Awards celebrate clients and their attorneys who make a difference. Vote for your favorite case and you could win a DVD copy of Hot Coffee!
Fighting Mandatory Arbitration
Jamie Leigh Jones tells how the legal loophole known as forced arbitration denied her a day in court for six years.
 

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