Monday, March 6, 2006
An unintended consequence of tort reform in a sexual assault case? A woman has sued three people involved in an alleged sexual assault:
The incident occurred on Feb. 16, 2002, when the victim attended a party with about 20 other teens and passed out after having too much to drink. When she awoke, she found obscenities written on her body and a sexually explicit drawing on her face. She left quickly, unaware she had been sexually assaulted. But later that week at school, details of the assault emerged as students who had witnessed the incident came forward.
Three people involved were arrested; she has sued all three...
With the case headed toward trial, Ignotz's lawyer recently offered to settle the case for $35,000 and Cate's attorney offered $10,000, the victim's lawyer, Michael Sullivan, said. Shipp has not responded to the lawsuit.
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But one provision of the Tort Reform Act of 2005 says that even if the victim wins at trial, she can be forced to pay Ignotz's and Cate's attorneys' fees if the jury does not award damages that are at least 25 percent more than the offers.
One legislator has introduced changing the formula from fee-shifting if the verdict is less than 125% of the offer to fee-shifting if the verdict is less than 75% of the offer, and the provision is under constitutional challenge as well.
(Another provision of the Georgia tort reform statute was struck down last month.)