As I’m drinking my coffee this morning, I’m looking at a photograph of a dead woman’s gangrenous foot, trying to decide if I want to involve myself in a lawsuit that would guarantee me the right and privilege of looking at more photographs like this one.
You see, part of my duties are to review messages sent to the firm from the internet. The firm subscribes to a website that generates leads. We get all of this website’s medical malpractice and railroad injury leads, and thanks to a good vendor relationship, we also get a variety of other leads in the state of Tennessee which do not seem to fit into any particular class.
The bulk of these “leads” are simply generalized grievances and not-very-clearly-focused but usually very intense anger. At least nine of ten of these cases present situations where the “bad guy” is obviously not really at fault, and any objective look at the situation would reveal that. And, there’s the issue of how much the legal system will compensate an aggrieved party for a bad act. While it’s mercenary, it’s one of the things I have to consider; I can’t suggest we spend ten thousand dollars litigating over a paper cut. Of course, when you’re the injured, angry party, you’re hardly objective about the situation. Now, every once in a while, there really is fault on the part of a third party and there is something for a lawyer to do. But a lot of the time, looking to the legal system to provide monetary compensation really seems to be a way for these people to avoid dealing with their emotions, particularly powerful emotions like outrage or grief.
So this morning, I find that I have fifteen of these internet cases to review, beginning with this case of nursing home abuse that allegedly resulted in a gangrenous foot and death. I can certainly understand the anger and outrage of the family upon learning that their loved one was treated this way. Back in liberal, plaintiff-friendly California, elder abuse cases had a triple damage remedy. Letting an old woman’s foot rot off would be worth big bucks there; I might be more interested in the gangrene case there. But not so much here in conservative, defendant-friendly Tennessee. So that changes the way I think about all of this stomach-churning evidence.
I am often disheartened weeding through all of this. Some of these peoples’ descriptions of their complaints are virtually unintelligible, and they frequently dwell on the most disgusting facets of their injuries rather than telling me the information I need to know. The thing is, a high “jury gross-out factor” is not enough to make a legal case worthwhile. What it does do is turn me off my food. Just because I frequently have to address issues of medical evidence does not make it any more pleasant to deal with — gynecological, urological, or digestive issues are just plain disgusting.
…Or maybe I just have a bad attitude on Monday morning.