Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Justice Delayed is Justice Gone Wild!

I have previously written about a common misconception held by students that civil litigation is relatively painless and quick. Of course, popular culture helps foster this misconception with TV shows and movies that cover the time period from the precipitating incident to the resolution in the court system in a neat , tidy package of time and effortless proceedings. The worst offender may be the movie North Country. The movie purports to be "inspired by" Lois Jensons's landmark sexual harassment suit against Eveleth Mines in Minnesota. In the real case, Jensons's legal odyssey from first harassment to final settlement traverses a tortuous path over 24 years, prompting the Court of Appeals to make this extraordinary statement:

If our goal is to persuade the American people to utilize our courts as little as possible, we have furthered that objective in this case. If justice be our quest, citizens must receive better treatment. The judiciary must somehow afford more efficacious monitoring of delayed cases. We must achieve this goal through action, not just by words.

In the movie, the whole scenario from incident to conclusion occurs over less than a year (none of her children age at all during the movie). And her greatest challenge is to answer some mildly uncomfortable questions at trial.

That is why I think it is important to make students aware of cases such as this one recently reported.

Ms. Bullard filed suit in Federal Court in Atlanta in 2004 for commercial appropriation.  Unsure whether the suit could be properly maintained in Georgia, the Federal court certified the question to the state Supreme Court.  The Georgia court upheld her right to sue in a decision issued March 28, 2013.  Ms. Bullard is now 26 years old. And now, her case can proceed ostensibly through discovery and then on to trial - at some unknown additional number of years from now.

Ms. Bullard in "Girls Gone Wild Ad": Source: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/georgia-woman-takes-case-against-girls-gone-wild-s/nSSXx/ 

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