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A 2nd Tragedy Follows Fatal Stabbing at ATM

August 22, 1993

* The death of Sherri Foreman at a Great Western Bank automated teller machine on March 30 was indeed a tragedy. However, the scenario described in your article of Aug. 5 ("Parents of Slain Woman Praise Wall Removal") outlines a greater societal tragedy.

The article describes how the deceased woman's parents have retained a lawyer who has filed a lawsuit that names at least four defendants, none of whom participated in the stabbing of the victim.

Not only can we assume that the defendants have financial resources, but you can be certain that they are all insured for such events.

Eventually, what we will witness will be these four defendants all paying fees to defense lawyers at something in excess of $100 per hour.

There will be great pressure to reach a settlement for economic reasons, in view of all the expenses facing these companies.

This effort will be aided and abetted by a judge, who will likely put tremendous pressure on all parties to settle, claiming that courtroom space and judge's time are at a premium.

The pity is that California law is fairly clear on what the parents may be entitled to, and judging from the description in your article, the probable exposure these four companies have to the parents is an amount far less than what it will collectively cost everyone to defend the case.

In the end, a settlement will be made, likely for an amount that far exceeds the probable jury award to be hoped for against these defendants. The parents' lawyer will pocket somewhere between one-third and one-half of that money.

Four or five lawyers will line their pockets. Whatever is left for the parents will certainly not bring back their daughter, nor will it punish the responsible party--the guy with the knife.

The next time you wonder about what ails our economy or our society, ponder this.

HOWARD PRINCE

Agoura Hills

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