I’m sure many of you remember the 60 Minutes report “Jackpot Justice” about large awards given out by juries in Southwestern Mississippi in product-liability cases. The Fen-Phen cases were prominent.
Now, CNN reports that the Justice Department is investigating to see if there was any wrongdoing in the makeup of the juries or in the recruitment of plaintiffs.
If all the plaintiff attorneys did was exploit the resentments of the jury pool, well, that’s good lawyering. Bad ethics, perhaps, but they “vigorously represented” the interests of their clients.
What is being investigated, however, is that the plaintiffs were related to some of the jury members and promised to split the award with the jury members. Also, that the plaintiff attorneys paid recruiters to find plaintiffs.
The former possibility would give rise to jury tampering charges, correct? What is the violation in the latter possibility? Is it a crime, or just a violation of practice standards?
One other twist is that one of the recruiters has sued one of the plaintiff attorneys for failing to deliver on promises of payment to find class members.
Is is my understanding that you absolutely cannot sue to recover moneys lost when they were promised as part of an illegal act. Am I wrong there? As I said, I don’t know what, if any, law may be violated by these promises. Assuming that, as context implies, this type of activity is illegal, then Anderson’s suit is the equivalent of filing a complaint with the police because a junkie didn’t pay you for the pot you sold him, right? I thought that this was considered against public policy.
I’m confused here, because if I’m right, then no attorney in their right mind would have helped Anderson file this. If I’m wrong on either or both of my assumptions, I’d like to correct myself.