Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How FEMA Trailer Lawsuits Are Briefcases On "Deal Or No Deal"

Posted by Alan Childress

I assume that most lawyers, like me, find Deal Or No Deal unwatchable.  One of the many reasons is that contestants use a decisionmaking process akin to clients, rather than "thinking like lawyers."  Lawyers would never "keep going" the way most contestants do.  How do you turn down a sure $270,000 for a two-thirds chance to win $600,000 with a one-third chance to win $450?  When I found myself hoping they would win $450, I realized this was unhealthy for me, and possibly immoral, and certainly pathetic (beyond the fact of watching itself), and I quit watching, forever. 

Then a journalist, yesterday, told me that lawyers on both sides of the FEMA trailer lawsuits -- these trailers reek of formaldahyde, plaintiffs say, while defendants tout the biology preservation uses of the substance like those shiny frogs [not really] -- told HER that they plan to wait until five "bellweather" trials are done before talking global settlement.  I told her I doubted that, and recounted my theory that the legal profession plays Deal Or No Deal very differently from the rest of the world.  I think they will have enough information before then (especially since the plaintiff lost the first big one, last week in Louisiana) and are risk averse enough to see a way out fairly soon.  (In truth, both the journalist and the law professor had to ask around to recall the name of the stupid game show with the suitcases, but both of us could remember Let's Make a Deal, showing our age.)  Anyway, she had called me, I suspect, not because I have legal profession qua game show insight, but because I got myself duly quoted last week on the Chinese drywall cases (these walls smell like rotten eggs, instead of formaldahyde, but both show how unlucky we local Louisianans are).  And media citations beget more media citations, you know, so fwiw here is the story on the trailer cases, from Marilyn Odendahl of The Elkhart Truth, near the Indiana factory of defendant Gulf Stream.  (Turns out Ms. Odendahl graduated from Ball State, where my mom [happy birthday!] and David Letterman did too.)

Clearly my memory is not what it used to be if I cannot name Deal Or No Deal, given that there was a period of time when it was the only show on television.  Further proof of the memory thing is the fact that a student emailed me today to ask whether we have Evidence tomorrow, because there is no October 1 on the syllabus.  (Damn those law profs who come out with new editions so often, what with their new pagination and all!)  My students must think I am celebrating Oktoberfest Eve or something.  (I do recall that last year, Macy's in Plano, Texas put up its Christmas ornaments on October 1, so maybe that is why I skipped the date.) Yes, Virginia, there is an October 1, and if you happen to be an Evidence student of mine reading this, please show up tomorrow.

Unrelated, I heard somewhere that the state color of West Virginia is primer.

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