In an ironic twist of events, Judge Robert H. Bork, a one-time Supreme Court nominee and one of the architects of the judicial conservative movement, has filed a trip-and-fall lawsuit against Yale Club demanding $1 million in compensatory damages in addition to punitive damages, according to a news report in the New York Times.
What’s the irony here? It’s just that Judge Bork has been a leading advocate of restricting plaintiffs’ ability to recover through tort law. In a 2002 article published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, the judge famously argues that such “frivolous claims and excessive punitive damage awards” have led to the transformation of the Constitution into a document that would allow Congress to enact tort reforms, which would have been considered unconstitutional at the time of framing.
“Accordingly, proposals such as placing limits or caps on punitive damagers or eliminating joint or strict liability, which may once have been clearly understood as beyond the Congress’ power, may now be constitutionally appropriate,” Judge Bork said in that article.
But his opinions on tort law miraculously changed after the 80-year-old Bork took a tumble on June 6, 2006 as he was climbing up the stairs of the Yale Club to deliver a speech for The New Criterion magazine. His suit explains that the Yale Club did not provide handrails on the stairs for the guests to climb up to and that Bork’s fall was a direct result of that.
The suit also states that Bork struck his left leg on the side of the stairs and bumped his head. As a result of the fall, a blood clot formed on his leg and later burst. Bork also required surgery, extended medical treatment and months of physical therapy, the lawsuit claims. The Times reports that Bork however managed to make his way back up the stairs and complete his speech despite the fall that night.
What an amazing story! My guess is neither did the judge relinquish his opinions on tort law, nor did he suffer from a bout of amnesia. I believe that Judge Bork learned something after he took that fall and suffered through what every one of my seriously injured clients suffer through every day of their lives following a traumatic injury. At age 80, he finally saw what attorneys like me were trying to tell him and other judges who hold his views.
It’s not like we don’t know that frivolous lawsuits seeking excessive damages do get filed in our country’s courts. But that should not adversely affect the rights of everyday individuals who don’t have the clout and social influence that someone like Judge Bork may have. These are people who lose loved ones, who lose their ability to live and to support others who depend on them. Call me crazy, but no amount of compensatory or punitive damages can take the place of a wife who was lost in a car accident, a baby girl who was mauled by a neighbor’s pit-bull or a loving husband who was struck and killed by a drunk driver.
As long as people are injured because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, attorneys like me will continue to fight for their rights and yes, try to recover full compensation for their injuries and/or losses.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured, please call me, John Bisnar at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for your free consultation – 1-800-259-6373.