The Scales of Justice

When injuries take place, summarily resulting in legal action, courts must determine whether or not the accused is actually responsible for the damages that have been outlined in the lawsuit. Defense attorneys will closely examine how much of a role the plaintiff may have played in the accident. One would not think that a plaintiff who had been intoxicated would be able to make a sturdy claim against someone else for his own demise, but it happened in New York City.

Beware of Train

In 2006, an unlucky fellow who had put away a few too many drinks stumbled into the path on an oncoming subway car, sustaining severely traumatic injuries that included the amputation of his leg. He sued the city, and a jury that couldn’t help but sympathize with him, awarding him $2.3 million (pending appeal) even though he was determined to have been 35 percent responsible for the mishap.

Not the First Time

It bore a troubling resemblance to a similar accident that took place in 2002, when one James Sanders suffered the same fate – also losing a leg, and an eye as well. His award was $7 million. When juries have access to the tax coffers in major municpalities, plaintiffs often realize astronomical awards, deservedly or otherwise. Obviously, in both cases, the injured parties’ lives were irrevocably changed for the worse.

The paradox is that criminal charges against any defendant would be aggravated, not mitigated, by the fact that a citizen had been drunk in any event in which property was damaged and people were hurt. Intoxication is never an excuse for the commission of any crime (or conspiracy), yet it doesn’t absolve the civil defendant – in this case the city of New York – of blame in these instances.