The Supreme Judicial Court has upheld a $63 Million verdict in a lawsuit against the manufacturer of Children’s Motrin. The comments to the media reporting have been in two distinct camps. Some have been supportive of the verdict given the serious injuries to the child. Others have been critical of the verdict, suggesting that the amount was somehow excessive. Some have even suggested that there should be caps in damage awards.
What we must not lose sight of is that a jury, members of our community, our neighbors, had the benefit of listening to all of the testimony, seeing all of the exhibits, hearing all of the arguments on both sides and following the law before coming to a verdict. We should not be critical of the jury’s hard work in coming to a verdict without knowing what the members of the jury knew before they reached their decision. They had a perspective that no one else could possibly have. A perspective based on not just some, but all of the facts, collective reasoning, law and conscience.
We should be very wary of anyone who suggests that there is an arbitrary amount of money that is always enough to compensate for any and all harms, without the benefit of seeing what harm was caused. To do so will guarantee that those members of our community harmed the most will not be adequately compensated. To do so, will guarantee that dangerous conduct will be repeated.
The law says that the jury is the “conscience of the community” with good reason. The jury speaks for every member of this community, with the dual purposes of compensating victims harmed by the wrongful conduct of others and deterring the continuation of that conduct. Conduct that is not deterred will be repeated.
Let us not second guess a jury’s verdict without knowing fully what went into reaching that decision.