Headlines like this always catch my eye: PUTTIN‘ $1M BITE ON DOG ‘OWNER’. It comes out of the New York Post and catches my eye for the obvious reason that NY personal injury law is my thing, and therefore the headline screams out something to me that the casual reader doesn’t see: The attorney who brought the million dollar lawsuit doesn’t really know personal injury law.
How do I know this? Because in New York you aren’t allowed anymore to make that monetary demand for damages when you file a lawsuit. (See: New York Cleans Up Claims Act.) We dumped that idiotic rule in the mid-80s for malpractice suits and dumped it in 2003 for the rest of the personal injury suits.
A read of the article shows absolutely nothing remarkable about the suit except for two things: The amount claimed and access to a publicist to pitch the story based on the very tangential pseudo-celebrity “news” that the defendant is a former wife of Morton Downey, Jr., a deceased talk talk show host who used a trash talk format.
I’m tempted to write about the story barking at me, it’s a real woofer, etc. but I find little humor when I see such headlines that ultimately disparage the profession, since the article doesn’t specify any damages worthy of such a demand. Moreover, such articles alter the perceptions of potential litigants to unreasonably think that every claim will result in a million dollar result. The law just doesn’t work that way.