What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Remember that Pennsylvania school that was spying on its students through their laptop computers? The school has agreed to pay out a $610,000 settlement.

But check out how that figure breaks down:

The settlement calls for $175,000 to be placed in a trust for Robbins and $10,000 for a second student who filed suit, Jalil Hassan. Their lawyer, Mark Haltzman, will get $425,000 for his work on the case.

So public school officials get caught illegally spy on students. But no one gets fired. And none of the offending parties will be fined. Instead, a municipal insurer (which will ultimately affect taxpayers) will pay a decent settlement to one student, a small settlement to another, and a small fortune to their lawyer.

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53 Responses to “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”

  1. #1 |  Rick H. | 

    Simple Justice points out some data that gives more context to this whole clusterfuck. The attorneys for the school district will be charging taxpayers close to a million for a very aggressive defense in a case where they were clearly on the asshole side. This makes the students’ lawyer’s bill seem like a pretty thrifty deal. Where’s the outrage?

  2. #2 |  Nick T | 

    As the guy who often defends lawyers on here, I think this case looks pretty bad, and I won’t try to defend it altogether. But I will say that lawyers should be incentivized to pursue class actions and other serious cases by the contingency system which gives the lawyer a portion of the final settlement, and ties his or her interest very closely to that of the client. (Without this there would liekly be fraud of lawyers telling a gullible client that they had a marvelous case, billing a ton of hours and then getting the case tossed because it actually sucked.)

    I agree with some commenters who said that a JD isn’t some magical symbol of knowledge, but a lawyer who can really litigate and negotiate complex torts claims is worth a lot of money.

    The “attorneys fees” really make this final outcome look lopsided and the fact that stupid bureacrats are completely covered from an personal loss is an outrage, but, as always, our civil system makes a lot more sense once you unpack it, and the recourse of civil litigation should play a major role in libertarian philosophy, in my mind.

  3. #3 |  James J.B. | 

    47 – Bozobo is dead on right. Make the cases hourly, with a large retainer no one (except a few) can pay for justice. To avoid that issue, % fee cases, or contingency fees evolved – so that the lawyer and client each have something in the case. The lawyer risks his time and the client benefits by not fronting a very large retainer. Some of you here want the government (or yourselves) to rewrite the agreement so that it is more “reasonable” – whatever that means.

    as to 48 – You are right. I made a mistake. Just because you are a tyrant busybody doesn’t mean you are a communist. My mistake. Sorry.

    CEO pay (as said above) – if somebody gets on here and says they make too much or are not worth it – it is the market, right? Or, it is a contract, and the shareholders should get involved, not the government, or the rest of us, right?

    Minimum wage – if we asked most people here, minimum wage is horrible – the government intruding in a private contractual right between employer and employee.

    Yet somehow, those rules go out the window when the contract is between a lawyer and client – then the public, the legislature, Radley, etc. should all get a say as to how “reasonable” is the fee.

    Maybe we could publically set everyone’s wage. We could use a central authority to be fair. Every lawyer, other professions and jobs eventually too, would be paid a set amount – if they made too much – it is forfeited -for the common good, of course. Right 47, you with me, because that isn’t communisim at all.

    Game, set, match.