It was reported this past week that South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, has had an affair. The media has treated this as landmark news. What I think would be landmark news is a politician who has not had an affair. Is this surprising? Should we expect anything less?
Why am I writing about this? Because I meet with clients every day who show surprise when the law doesn’t go their way. What do I mean?
Let’s take arbitration for example. Clients come into the office after being defrauded by a company or had a contractor treat them wrong. After reviewing the contract and seeing the arbitration clause, I tell them that they cannot sue the defendant in court. They have to arbitrate the claim. The reaction, "What?" "Are you kidding me?" "How can they do that?"
Or, what about when I have to explain Alabama’s wrongful death law. In Alabama, when someone is killed by the negligence of others, you can only sue the other person or company for punitive damages, not compensatory damages. In other words, we have to argue to the jury that they must punish the defendant, not compensate the victim’s family. That becomes VERY difficult when the defendant made a mistake such as running a red light or changing lanes without looking properly.
What is the respective clients’ reaction to this? "What?" "Are you kidding me?" "How is that possible?"
What’s the moral of the story? Pay attention. Pay attention to your spouse and to politicians, and maybe, you won’t be surprised. Pay attention to your legislators and judges. Know what laws they are passing. Lobby your congressmen and let them know that these laws aren’t right and need to be changed.