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Corporate lawyers will beat the average guy in lawsuit

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SirTenenbaum posted on Sat, Mar 17 2012 2:33 AM

Hey everybody. I was in a discussion with somebody about property rights and the environment. I said that a system of enforced property rights would protect people from abuses. For example, if you own part of a river and Dow Chemical dumps chemicals into the river and pollutes your part of the waterway, you can sue Dow Chemical for damaging your property and receive compensation. The rejoinder was that big-time corporate lawyers would beat the average Joe Schmo's attorney any day (or drag the case out for several years). What's the best response?

It seems obvious that if you have a case, the evidence will fall on your side and you will win the case in a non-biased court (I would prefer not to drag in whether private courts are fairer, better, faster or not). Additionally if you have a case, a high-level attorney will choose to represent you because he thinks he will get a payout from the case (they often do this for free I believe). What else can I say? Thanks!

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Something else you might point out is the rule of "loser pays", which is gaining quite a bit of steam.  This plays largely into your last point about how a bigger defendant will attract bigger lawyers to your side.

That's not a small point.  Your opponent's entire argument is that the big company will be able to afford a bigger legal team.  But the very fact that they are big enough to afford that team means that there is that much more interest for other lawyers in taking your case.  And yes, you're right...many times they have taken the case of a single no-name individual essentially on just an agreement for pieces of the payout.  If he wishes to argue this, ask him to explain how any lawsuit against a big company (including class action suits) gets won by the plaintiff.  (Sure plenty of them are settled, but again, that by definition means the plaintiff is essentially satisfied).

For more resources on environment and property rights, see here and here.


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