Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jury System is the fair way to solve a dispute

By: Andy Childers
Atlanta Attorney

** The following is a Letter to the Editor to the AJC in response to a guest column published on July 30, 2008.

If I were blindsided on the highway on the way home from work tonight by a negligent driver, I would much rather have members of my community step inside my shoes and deliberate what equates fairness rather than some insurance company cog who gets bonuses for denying claims. While it may cause frustration to those on the jury, like it did for Tex Pitfield an Oil Company CEO and jury foreman on a recent Cobb County trial, at least I would be getting a fair shake.

Insurance companies are ruthless in denying claims. From the atrocities of Hurricane Katrina to what Mr. Pitfield calls, “a very minor traffic accident,” our fates are controlled by corporations who view us as an inconvenient story on a piece of paper rather than real people with families and jobs who are struggling to make ends meet like nearly everyone else. That is, nearly everyone else but Insurance CEOs who continue to rake in record profits while the rest of us struggle to fill up our gas tanks.

While it sounds like Mr. Pitfield was annoyed by his jury summons, I commend him for fulfilling his civic duty. I commend the other jurors who were as convinced of their verdict as he was. We are blessed to live in a nation that constitutionally protects the rights of people to participate in their government. Without that, we’d all be doomed to existing simply as a blurb on a scrap of paper that corporate insiders with more means, money and power than we have, could just willy-nilly throw away.

Senior move closer to being protected from one-sided mandatory arbitraion in long-term care

For Immediate Release:
202-965-3500 x369
AAJ Press Room

Washington, DC— Seniors and their families who have been harmed by mandatory arbitration in nursing home contracts overcame another hurdle in the fight to seek justice from negligent nursing home corporations as the House Judiciary Committee set to pass the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (H.R. 6126) this week.

This bill would stop nursing home corporations from burying mandatory arbitration clauses in the stack of papers that patients must sign in order to be admitted into a nursing home. When families face the tragic neglect of a loved one due to negligent care, these clauses force families into a private system of justice in which the “judge” is picked by the corporation and families are left without any appeal.

Mandatory arbitration in nursing home contracts has a real life impact on American families every day. Wisconsin resident David Kurth witnessed the one-sided system of mandatory arbitration first hand when a nursing home corporation refused to be held accountable for the neglect of his father, William Kurth. David’s father suffered bedsores so severe they lead to his eventual death. The nurse treating David’s father was found guilty of criminal negligence. Even though the nursing home admitted responsibility to the Kurth family, they continue to hide behind a mandatory arbitration agreement.

“Our members speak for families who have been harmed by mandatory arbitration enforced by the very people that they trusted to protect the health and safety of their loved ones,” said American Association for Justice President Les Weisbrod. “We want to ensure that that no other family has to suffer the compounded injustice suffered by the Kurth family and many others.”

“Mandatory arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts place families in an unfair system where corporations pick the players, make all the rules and leave families without any appeal. Most importantly, it allows nursing home corporations to sweep their unlawful and negligent behavior under a rug and out of the public eye.”

For additional examples of how nursing home arbitration harms families please contract the AAJ press shop at 202-965-3500 x. 369.


As the world's largest trial bar, the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) works to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others--even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations. Visit