HolyCoast: Sex Harassment Suits Are No-Win Situations for the Defendant

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Sex Harassment Suits Are No-Win Situations for the Defendant

Kurt Schlichter, an experienced civil litigator, offers a primer on sexual harassment suits in light of the ongoing Herman Cain kerfuffle:
When you consider that, more than a decade ago, Herman Cain settled some unspecified sexual-harassment claims, you also need to consider that the only things you need to file a lawsuit are the filing fee and a printer. Facts are optional.

Maybe Cain did harass some employees. But the dirty little secret among lawyers that defend business people from lawsuits -- and among those lawyers who bring them -- is that an enormous percentage of such claims are frivolous, if not flat-out lies.

Concepts like “truth” and “justice” have little meaning in the world of big-money litigation. Thanks to ravenous plaintiffs’ lawyers empowered by the politicians they buy with campaign contributions, every business person is in the crosshairs.

Lawsuits are so expensive to defend that it makes good business sense to settle even the most frivolous cases. And businesses do.

TV and movies would have you believe that most lawsuits end up with a jury hearing the evidence and rendering a verdict. That almost never happens. Close to 97 percent of civil cases never see a courtroom. The vast majority settle, with the business paying good money to end the nightmare -- money that could have gone to hiring struggling young people, buying new equipment or expanding.

And, as Herman Cain has learned, you never really can buy your peace. The accusers apparently signed nondisclosure agreements so that Cain and his company could put the accusations behind them. A lot of good that did. Whether it was the accusers or others who revealed the claims, the effort to buy peace now looks like wasted money.

In the world of sexual-harassment law, the accusations are bad enough. You’re guilty until proven innocent. The law is skewed toward the plaintiffs -- it’s hard to get even the silliest charges tossed out, and even then it often costs upward of six figures to do so.
There's more at the link. These kinds of suits are another good argument for a loser-pays tort system. It would eliminate the frivolous cases as a plaintiff would have to be pretty sure of their case before risking their finances in a lawsuit.

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