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'Deep Pockets, Deep Dilemma'

April 23, 1985

I am writing in response to your editorial (April 12), "Deep Pockets, Deep Dilemma," in which you come short of opposing the principle of joint and several liability.

The case you cited was that of an "innocent" passenger in a car whose driver had been taking drugs. Even though that driver ran a stop sign, the City of Los Angeles ended up having to pay the bulk of a $2-million-plus lawsuit.

Is a person of reasoning age (in this case, the "innocent" 16-year-old passenger) completely blameless when he or she knowingly enters a car with an intoxicated driver? Even if a person is not yet of reasoning age, is it not the impaired driver's fault, not the City of Los Angeles' fault, when a stop sign is run and an accident occurs?

And why is the city supposed to have especially marked this particular intersection differently from any other? Just in case a rip-roaring drunk might not notice it? The city evidently has no plans to change the intersection in question. It's safe for sober folks.

I say to hell with a system that makes the wealthiest defendant pay all, no matter how little at fault he or it is. Decide who is most at fault, and that person pays up. If that person is poor, so be it; life ain't always fair.

Fairness certainly doesn't lie in bloodhound lawyers scrambling for "deep pockets." In this case the "deep pocket" was the taxpayer.



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