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Titanic Jury Damages

     With 100 years passing since the sinking of the Titanic, it has caused some to look back at the lives of those that survived, and those that perished on that doomed voyage.

     Time Magazine acknowledged Isidor Straus in this look back. German-born American Isidor Straus was one of the most privileged passengers on board. He was the co-founder with his brother Nathan, of R.H Macy Department Store. He had also served as a member of the US House of Representatives.

     He and his wife Ida were parents of seven children.  Their children reported that any time that they were apart, they would write to each other every day. 

     During the shipwreck and as people were scrambling about to board available life boats; 67-year-old Straus refused to board a life boat to safety. Instead, he insisted that his wife’s maid go with Ida. The officer of the life boat told him that he should board with his wife. Isidor felt that it would be wrong to board to safety, while younger men and women had to wait.

His wife then refused to board the half-boat. Instead, she turned and said, “I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so we will die together.”

     Isidor and Ida were last seen on deck, sitting in deck chairs, holding hands. A memorial plaque to both of their memories can now be seen on the main floor of Macy’s Department Store in Manhattan.

     Today, if an insurance company were to contact their children in an attempt to resolve a pending wrongful death claim; the adjuster would probably try to focus attention on what their life expectancy should have been or what their earning capacity represented. They were a team. No computer can measure such emotion.

     Their grandson, Stuart, was also supposed to have been with them for the trip, but had caught a cold and stayed behind because of it. He later married actress Geraldine Fitzgerald.  

     It is uncontradicted that greed and arrogance of the business owners and the planners of this great ship, were the cause of this horrific loss of life. Choices were made that were reckless. More passengers were lodged on the ship at the expense of the appropriate number of life saving boats.

     If Virginia was the venue where lawsuits would be brought today, then business owners of this ilk would know that Virginia has a limit on punishing corporation greed. Politicians like to term it that such caps means that Virginia is great for business. Punitive damages are limited to an amount of 350 thousand dollars.

     If a company knows that it can make choices that will lead to greater profits greater than a resulting punishment of $350,000, would it surprise you to think that such consideration can go into the equation of the bottom line of a business?

     Every now and then, you will hear about a verdict where the regular damages are significant. Corporations quickly try to call large verdicts “Runaway Juries”. Politicians say that such verdicts are bad for business.

     Maybe, it’s a jury that understands that true loss is more than some number that can be plugged into a computer. Politicians should be required to make hard choices and not welcome a business that ignores the value of life. Maybe, true loss is measured in the connection between each other. Instead of allowing some Spin Doctor for some corporation to heap shame on a jury, for doing its job in trial; The jurors should be thanked for making hard decisions and holding wrongdoers accountable.

     And for pic o’ day, I thought this would just be a bit of real life (or maybe posed real life)


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