The old adage"actions speak louder than words" has many applications in the realm of civil litigation, but it comes to the fore quite a bit when the parties get down to "brass tacks" to see what the case is really worth.

Many of my colleagues and I get asked all the time, "So, how much are you suing for?" The truth is, however, that in the negligence context it doesn't generally matter one iota how much you are suing for, and there are a number of reasons for this; rather, the primary issue is how much monetary damages you can prove.

All of which brings me to the next point.

In a story that was reported on earlier today, an Oregonian middle school student apparently settled his federal bullying claim against his school district for a total of $5,000. To be sure, I don't know the details of the case. But I do know this: $5,000 is typically considered what is called in the legal industry, a "nuisance value" settlement, which means that the defendant throws that money at you to simply avoid the cost it would incur to pay a lawyer to try to have the case dismissed. In other words, it signals that both sides acknowledge that the case was very weak.

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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