October 31, 2009

Oh, the OTHER Pepsi challenge!

As a real-live attorney, I really resent it when people start spouting off about what a screwed up legal system we have, based on whatever outrageous thirdhand horseshit they've heard or read in the Corporate Media. Trust me, whatever reported kangaroo court injustice it is that has your Hanes all hinky, you probably haven't heard the half of it unless your ass was actually planted in that jury box all week. In which case, the story would probably make a hell of a lot more sense.

That said, I do admit there are times when my job feels a tad bit like Professional Wrasslin'. And on occasion, the potential for gamesmanship in our civil court system does come to the forefront. Like when a low-level paper shuffler fucks up and it costs PepsiCo $1.26 BILLION SMACKAROOS!! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
(oh my, look who just got a woody typing that out!)

If this case were on an episode of Arrested Development, the one-armed man would step forward right about now and say "And THAT, kids, is why you ALWAYS file a timely answer when you're sued." And you know what? The one-armed man would be right. Ignoring lawsuits when you're served with one is just not a good idea.

Now in Pepsi's case, I'd be shocked if the court left this decision completely undisturbed. The fact is most courts don't like deciding the merits of a case because someone didn't jump when Simon Said. But how would you like to be in PepsiCo's position right now? As a defendant, the burden of proof WAS on the other side....but now the burden is on Pepsi to prove they deserve a second chance just to defend themselves.

Now if this happened in Judge Balczak's court, I can't tell you exactly what I'd do. My own sense of jurisprudence says blown deadlines and bureaucratic bungles should not decide serious disputes. But geez, people, we have a system for a reason. And the reality is that despite being PERSONALLY DELIVERED a citation by a really official cop-looking guy that says words and phrases like "YOU HAVE BEEN SUED" and "IF YOU DO NOT RESPOND A JUDGMENT MAY BE ENTERED AGAINST YOU," some people out there just can't be bothered to play the game. In those instances, they deserve what they get.

And what they get can feel quite proctological if there's an aggressive collection attorney working the file. Ever been ordered by a court to sit down and tell an adverse lawyer all the details about your finances? Ever had a bass boat taken away from you or a rental property sold from underneath you? Ever had a court order you to turn over stocks or equipment owned by your corporation? You might be thinking you're a turnip they can't bleed but guess what: judgments stay in effect for ten years and can be renewed for even longer. And then, of course, there's what it does to your credit. So you're pretty much betting against your own prospects of ever doing better by taking that attitude.

But back to Judge Balczak's court in Lucky SOB vs. PepsiCo. We could really have fun with this, couldn't we? I've always hated Pepsi. I hate its taste, I have always hated its brand/marketing strategy, I have hated its commercials, and I REALLY REALLY REALLY hate Pepsi when it's products are used to soil a perfectly good bourbon on the rocks that I paid top dollar for by some "bartender" who presumes to mix it with Sierra Mist thinking I won't know it isn't Ginger Ale. Yeah. Fuck it. Default Judgment is hereby affirmed in the full amount awarded, and this Court orders that asshole at the Long Center to pay punitive damages of $1M and enjoins said asshole from ever serving drinks there at intermission again!!! Next case.....

Posted by hbalczak at October 31, 2009 12:27 PM

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