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The Jury System Works

June 30, 1985

When I read "Liability Insurers Are Fleeing Field in Wake of Big Damage Awards" (June 17), I was disheartened.

It appeared as if the reporter had spoken only with insurance industry special interests.

The civil justice system is not "running amok." Awards are rendered by juries, which are composed of ordinary citizens who represent the community.

The jury is the people and the people--not the judge, not the plaintiff's lawyer and not the insurance companies--render the verdict.

Awards are based on proven facts presented in public before fair-minded people. A plaintiff has difficult burdens in proving both the liability and damage aspects of the case, and juries make plaintiffs meet those burdens. If the plaintiff cannot meet the burdens, the plaintiff loses.

You never hear about plaintiffs who lose because they are generally injured and poor.

You do hear about defendants who lose because the insurance industry pays the bill, and they have the power to sway public opinion.

An example of misinformation is the article's reference to punitive damages. They are awarded when the jury finds that the defendant acted with malice or intent.

It is against the law to insure against an award of punitive damages. The defendant--and the defendant only--pays for his malicious acts.

Our jury system is a bastion against tyranny. It is the best device known to free men to render justice and keep our society in the hands of the people.

The system is not perfect, but consider the alternative.

DANIEL P. POWELL

Los Angeles

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