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14 Law Notes (Edward Thompson Co.) 1 (1910-1911)

handle is hein.journals/lawnotes14 and id is 1 raw text is: APRIL, 1910.]                              LAW     NOTES.

APRIL, 1910.
JAMES COCKOROFT, President. W. M. MCKINNEY, Vice-President.
D. S. GARLAND, Secretary.  J. W. HILTMAN, Treaturer.

Personal Injury Cases and
Contingent Fees . . .   1
Ambulance Chasers and De-
fendant Corporations .   1
 The American System of
Employers' Liability
Stands Condemned   .   2
Proposed  Restoration  of
Death Penalty . . .     2
Proposed Abolition of Death
Penalty  ......         2
Punishment by Life Im-
prisonment Less Severe
than Death, .. ..... 8
.Expense of Necessary Law
Libraries ...  ...... 8
Reason of the Law  . . .  3
Safety Appliance Act of Con-
gress Profitable to Rail-
roads ...    ....... 4
Legal indulgence to Human
Credulity ...  ...... 4
England's   Unsatisfactory
Divorce Law... .   .... 5

A Divorce Problem for Vir-
ginia Legislators       5
The New Federal Judicial
Code       5.......5
The Whole Story in the
Courts ...   ....... 6
.Origin and Development of
Expert Testimony . . .  8
An Epic of the Dallas Ly.,.-
ing ....    ........ 9
Judicial non-Juridical eis-
dorn and Sentiment  . . 10
The Work of the Trial Law-
yer  .  . . .   .  .  .  13
The German Civil Code . . 14
The Power to IYx Railroad
Rates ..  ....... ..15
EiiG SH NOTES    . .     . 16
OBITER  DICTA   .....     18

Personal Injury Cases and Contingent Fees.
A CTIONS to recover damages for personal injuries con-
sume more space in the current reports than any
other class of cases, and various text-books have been
written on personal injury topics that are merely subdi-
visions of  Negligence,  Master and Servant, Rail-
roads, or  Common Carriers. A legislative commis-
sion in Massachusetts reports that accident claims against
street railways consume three-quarters of the time given
to jury trials in Suffolk county. Some of the legislatures
are turning their attention to this class of cases to see if
the volume of this species of litigation can be judiciously
reduced by regulation of lawyers' charges and practices.
A bill pending in the New Jersey legislature makesin-
valid any agreement between lawyer and client with re-
spect to fees in any action for damages where the re-
muneration is to exceed twenty per cent. of the amount
of the verdict; nor is any advance agreement binding un-
less made in writing and filed before the trial of the case
in the county clerk's office. If, however, upon such trial,
a Supreme Court justice believes the lawyer's services
warrant more than twenty per cent. of the sum recovered,
he may authorize the payment of such fee as he deems
justly remunerative. The New York State Bar Associa-
tion is to make another effort to secure an amendment to
the Code of Civil Procedure to eliminate the practice
among certain lawyers of taking negligence cases on con-

tingent fees. An amendment which was presented to the
legislature last year did not secure approval, but it is
thought there is a favorable prospect for enactment of
such a measure at the present session.
Ambulance Chasers and Defendant Corporations.
LEGISLATIO.N of the foregoing character is designed
especially to hinder the activities of a class of law-
yers familiarly known as  ambulance chasers. But the
conduct of corporations (or their agents) interested in
promoting such enactments is often open to severe animad-
version. In Zdancewicz v. Burlington County Traction
Co., (N. J.) 71 Atl. Rep. 123, the plaintiff, an ignorant
foreigner, was injured while upon one of defendant's cars,
whether as a passenger or a servant does not appear.
Immediately after the accident he was taken to a hospital,
where his right arm was amputated. With the stump of
his arm bandaged up, he was there interviewed by the
attorney for the defendant in the presence of the hospital
surgeon. The conversation between them is set forth in
the report, and the attorney has good reason to feel proud
that his humanity, candor, and professional honor in a
delicate situation appear so conclusively on the printed
page. For $100 in cash the unfortunate plaintiff, after
due caution by the attorney, signed a release of all claim
to damages for his terrible loss; and upon proof thereof
in his action subsequently brought a verdict was directed
for the defendant and judgment thereon was sustained.
Reading between the lines of the opinion, it is pretty clear
that the careful attorney for the defendant accepted the
release because he was convinced that the plaintiff had
no legal claim to damages. But there are a great many
cases in the reports where releases for a ridiculous consid-
eration were secured under such circumstances that juries
refused to countenance the transaction; and in some other
cases where a release was successfully pleaded, the facts
stated in the opinion suggest to the reader that an  am-
bulance chasing and a get there  lawyer would have
been a welcome agent of justice in thwarting the defend-
ant's emissary. We observe, too, that in a good many
personal injury cases against corporations, some one in
behalf of the defendant obtained, as quickly as possible
after an accident, affidavits of persons who witnessed it.
Why was this extrajudicial and legally valueless oath
administered ? Why wouldn't a signed written statement
be satisfactory without verification? And do corporations
customarily have a notary public or other officer author-
ized to administer oaths on their private staff of  pre-
parers ? Although in some cases affidavits are procured
from praiseworthy motives and to forestall evil influences,
there is great danger that a species of moral intimidation
will be practiced on the affiant, and that his testimony will
not be given with the deliberation and candor which courts
have a right to expect. If there should be good reason to
suspect that this was the purpose and effect of securing an
affidavit, the defendant's entire case ought to be regarded
with suspicion, pursuant to the rule which obtains where
a party has expressly threatened a witness with disagree-
able consequences if he testifies; for, indeed, a man of or-
dinary sensibilities would not find it agreeable to declare
in court that an affidavit verified by him contained erro-
neous statements.

APRIL, 1910.]


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