Shakespeare wrote about killing all the lawyers as the first order of business. Their clients are sometimes just as worthy candidates.
David Doar, for instance. He is demanding – through his lawyers – that Volkswagen pay him $725,000 plus pay his legal bills on account of the 2016 Jetta TDI he bought for $23,700 having been one of those which “cheated” the government’s exhaust emissions tests.
VW had offered to buy the car back at full value – the same offer it made to every other owner of one of the “affected” cars. The vast majority of the approximately 500,000 owners of the “affected” vehicles accepted VW’s offer. Doar and about 2,000 others did not.
He – and they – no doubt heard opportunity knocking. And called Saul.
But how does $23,700 in damages become $725,000 – plus the tab for the shyster to collect it?
This is roughly 30 times the full value of Doar’s Jetta – a car which did not harm him or even threaten to. It did not stall in intersections or suddenly and unintentionally accelerate. It did not catch fire. Or explode. All it did do was emit an infinitesimally higher percentage of an exhaust byproduct which the EPA regulates. The amount at issue is so small no one would ever have known had not a Pecksniffian pedant re-rerun the tests and discovered the slight – the fractional – difference in emissions.
Not one victim – in the normal (and formerly legal) sense – has been produced, i.e., a human individual who can prove that he has been harmed by the car in some way. The case is in fact about Uncle – the government – having been affronted. That is VW’s real crime – and it is the real reason for the bellowing outrage emanating from the various ministries. These include the propaganda ministries – i.e., the media, including the car press – which have egregiously failed to explain and parse the nature of the “cheating,” how minuscule the difference in emissions, “cheating” car vs. non-cheating car, actually were.
Who have allowed to pass – and even egged on – the idea that VW was doing a Deepwater Horizon or Exxon Valdez, except on wheels. It’s a grotesque – and despicable – dereliction of journalistic duty.
And it aids and abets cashers-in such as this Doar character – whose ambulance chasing amounts to a second assault on the Western legal tradition (the first being the quaint idea that a tort action requires an actual victim to establish that a crime has been committed):
Leaving aside the matter of Doar’s nonexistent victimhood, he is at most entitled to compensation for the value of the car, plus reasonable expenses. Three quarters of a million dollars is the apotheosis of unreasonable. It is slip and fall-ism extrapolated and with gasoline poured on top. Add matches.
And if he succeeds, actual victims will be created.
It will not be something called “VW” which pays. It will be real people associated with VW – employees who will be fired in order to cut costs. Or VW’s customers, who will pay more for their cars, to make up or VW’s losses. None of these people victimized Doar or anyone else.
This is one of the moral (and legal) problems with corporations, leaving aside for the moment the question of VW’s “cheating” – which amounts to a scaled up version of a motorist using a radar detector to “cheat” a speed trap.
Liability is limited. It says so, right there in the acronym (LLC, which stands for limited liability corporation). The whole idea is to punt liability onto those not liable – in the moral sense; i.e., those who didn’t do anything wrong.
But the people who did – for the sake of discussion – haven’t got pockets as deep as the corporation does. This is why the corporation becomes the piggy bank via the courts for people like Doar. And not just Doar, either. If he is successful in his shakedown, probably others will be as well. And there are many candidates. About 2,000 of them. These are the people who refused to accept VW’s reasonable buy-back offer.
Times that times $750,000 – plus lawyer bills.
All of this is in addition to the billions in “criminal” penalties imposed by the government.
Update: Doar has reportedly “settled” with VW – behind closed doors – no doubt for a sum as obnoxiously high as the emissions of his Jetta were low. Disproportionality being the new basis for juridical proceedings in Red Giant Stage America.
People who actually do harm others – armed government workers, for example – are treated gently by the system, if they are treated by the system at all. They routinely get away with literal murder. But if you “cheat” a speed trap – or a government emissions test – may god have mercy on your soul.
. . .
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