The Law Offices of Robert J. Delaney- Trials


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Trials (Due Process)


     In the course of human events, excluding spiritual events, one notes these major life changing uses or inventions:

Use of fire


1215 Due Process of Law

Printing Press

Electric light




    This article is about the third event above, due process of law.  Prior to 1215 A.D., countries, territories, and societies were run by benevolent, moderate or tyrannical dictators such as chiefs, kings, queens, sultans, tsars, emperors, etc.  What they said was generally law, no matter how fair or unfair.  King John of England in the early 1200’s was a particularly bad tyrant.  He took and used the daughters of his subjects as he please, raping, whipping, enslaving them.  He took the gains of the labors of his subjects as he pleased, sometimes leaving them too little to survive.  The country was in an uproar when a group of his nobles got the courage to oppose him and forced him to sign the Magna Carta, “Great Charter,” at Runnymeade.  It was in Latin.  Many copies were prepared (over 70) over a period of days by the scriveners.  King John signed one for all of his 70+ nobles.  A dab of hot wax was put in the lower right-hand corner, and King John pressed his ring into the hot wax.  This was called a seal, or imprimatur.  It was recognized throughout the kingdom.  (I was fortunate to see one of the 17 known preserved copies on tour in Philadelphia a few years ago.  One gets a different sense of history, an awe, from seeing one of the actual documents and realizing what was behind it.)  The principle established in this great charter was that no man would hereafter be deprived of his life or property without due process of law.  And if there was a dispute, it would be settled by a jury of the disputants peers or equals.

    This was adopted and put into effect and comes down to us today in the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions.  No longer would the mightiest or strongest or the king or whoever was the top dog automatically prevail in a dispute.  The concept of “fairness” was introduced.  1215 A.D.—almost 800 years ago.

    Despite this law, the mighty still have many advantages.  Billion dollar auto insurance companies have had a disinformation campaign going on for several years, crying we need “tort reform” to stop the “runaway juries” so folks auto insurance rates won’t go sky high because auto insurance companies are “losing so much money” and have to keep raising their premiums to keep the companies afloat.  Lies.  Lies.   All lies.

    Look at the record profits the auto insurance companies are rolling in with the false advertising campaign:


Property and Casualty

    Insurers reporting the largest year-over-year improvement in net income during the 2004 first nine months include the following companies:

  • Continental Casualty, Chicago: $196.6 million in net income during 2004 first nine months, $1.3 billion loss during 2003 first nine months

  • State Farm Mutual, Bloomington, Ill: $2.15 billion in net income during 2004 first nine months, $738.8 million net income during 2003 first nine months

  • State Farm Fire & Casualty, Bloomington Ill.: $1.15 billion in net income during 2004 first nine months, $10.8 million net income during 2003 first nine months

  • Allstate Ins. Co., Northbrook, Ill.: $2.75 billion in net income during 2004 first nine months, $1.81 billion net income during 2003 first nine months

  • Continental Ins. Co., Concord, N.H.: $2.1 million in net income during 2004 first nine months, $406.2 million loss during 2003 first nine months

    (Source: Weiss Rating on P-C Industry)

    The problem is many Americans who sit on our juries are taken in by this advertising campaign.  We hear these things frequently in talking to juries:

a.      I wouldn’t want this case to cause my auto insurance premiums to go up.

b.      Too many plaintiffs are like that McDonald’s woman who spilled the hot coffee in her lap (not knowing she had serious burn surgery; that McDonald’s was making it’s coffee to be drunk very hot 7 minutes after purchase; that McDonald’s had had 17 previous major burn claims from their scalding coffee and still hadn’t cooled their coffee down to a non-dangerous temperature; that the jury awarded the woman one day of McDonald’s coffee sales (1.2 million) to send a message to McDonald’s to behave responsibly which they did thereafter; that the trial judge reduced the jury award to $240,000).

c.      Most plaintiff’s are just greedy people trying to win the lottery

    Of course, there’s the best and the worst kind in any segment of people.  But the auto insurance folks cite the exception and rare worst case as the common example.  In reality what’s happening is the common folks who are injured and go to trial are hurt and haven’t received a fair settlement offer from the auto insurance company.  The more and more jurors try to protect their premiums from going up by giving low, unjust verdicts (not making the injured victim whole), the more lowball (less than fair) offers the insurance companies make, the more victims suffer, and the more the billion dollar auto insurance company profits go up.

    Recently, the National Chamber of Commerce got burnt by the auto insurance claims, using some of the claims in their insurance industry advertising and positions.  A little investigation and the National Chamber found out the falsehoods and backed away from the misinformation being spewed.  The auto insurance companies are like the King John’s of the 13th century and need to be sat on by the common folks.

A citizen of our country has two major duties:

1)     to vote with a good conscience

2)     to be a juror when requested, with good conscience

Both are required for our system of government to thrive and survive.

    Trial work is a rewarding way to help folks get justice, to right a wrong as best can be done, to try to put things back the way they were or as close to it as we can.  I would be happy to assist you with your trials. Just ask.

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