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Suicide Payoff

If you jump in front of a train, is it the train driver's fault if he doesn't stop in time to run you over? Maybe. Back in 1977, Milo Stephens tried to commit suicide in this way and later sued the New York City Transit Authority for running him over. The TA gave him a settlement payment of $650,000 rather than going to trial.

A Time magazine article (Jan 9, 1984) explains why the TA opted for the settlement rather than fighting it:

The new rules, known as comparative negligence, allow a jury to assess the percentage of fault on each side and apportion damages accordingly. This is what worried Richard Bernard, general counsel for the Transit Authority. Stephens' injuries, based on other recent jury awards, "would have justified a verdict of, say, $3.5 million," observes Bernard. If the jury then found that Stephens was only 75% responsible for the accident, the Transit Authority might have been liable for $875,000, plus the cost of going to trial, thus making a $650,000 settlement 'favorable from our point of view.'

Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Jul 29, 2014 | Number of Comments: 0
Category: Lawsuits, 1970's
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