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Total assets and potential of being target of civil suit

Discussion in 'GATE Self-Defense Forum' started by jack76590, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. jack76590


    Aug 15, 2004

    A lot of discussion about potential of civil suit after one is cleared of criminal charges in self defense shooting.

    From your experience as expert witness, what is the lowest amount of assets possessed by a person sued for a self defense shooting?

    I realize you may not always have known the assets of the defendant, but a guess would be of interest to me.

    I really can't envision someone with less that $50,000 in total assets being sued. I assume the defendant could use his assets to pay for his defense, so if he lost less than $50,000 available.

    Again I realize this is not something where you can provide an exact dollar figure for all circumstances, but some insight would be appreciated. Thanks. Jack
  2. Mas Ayoob

    Mas Ayoob KoolAidAntidote Moderator

    Nov 6, 2005
    Jack, bereaved survivors of the decedent, if they're motivated by revenge and spite, won't be deterred by a low net worth on the potential defendant's side. If their goal is to ruin you, they achieve that by bankrupting you with legal defense fees as thoroughly as they would by winning a judgment against you. They may also choose to frame your shooting of the burglar, for example, as negligent, so they can go after your homeowner liability insurance.

    I don't keep track of defendants' net worth. None of my business.


  3. jack76590


    Aug 15, 2004

    Thanks for reply. I can understand why you would not have access to the net worth of individuals.

    I can understand revenge and spite, however, even that has a price and I wonder if the survivors would pay say $40,000 in legal fees with the HOPE of ruining a guy with only $20,000 in assets.

    Sure its a free ride for the survivors, when the potential of victory and potential pay out is sufficient to get a lawyer to take the case on contingency. But for that to happen there has to be the bucks there to justify a lawyer taking the case.

    But on GT I read threads by people who I gather are maybe 35 years old or less and have not had a chance to accrue many assets worrying mightly about a civil suit.

    Now as an older person, who has been fortunate enough to accrue a few assets, I believe, the concern over a civil suit is very legitimate.

    Bottom line is, I believe, that while revenge and spite are powerful motivators, they too are limited by monetary considerations. This is especially true when seeking a lawyer to represent you on contingency.

    However, I also believe the highly publicized cases can be judged by a different standard. Specifically, I believe that if George Zimmerman is acquited of criminal charges he will be ruined financially. Al and Jesse will be able to raise enough money to fund a civil suit against Zimmerman even if they have to spend $100 in lawyers fees for every $1 subject to potentially recovery. And many lawyers will view bringing the suit as a way to advertise themselves, so the fees or recovery potential in this instance will not be the major motivation.

    Sorry if I have been a bit long winded, but it is a subject that interests me and I think, while an important subject not enough attention has been given to the financially aspects that drive a civil suit. Jack