My favorite example is the 1857 case, Macready v. City of Alton. Mary Macready, a New York actress, was walking down the street in Alton, Ill., and fell through some sidewalk construction and badly injured her ankle, leg and back. Lincoln demanded $20,000 but was only able to recover $300 at a jury trial.
Imagine that! Not more than four years before he began prosecuting the war to save the Union, the Great Emancipator was prosecuting a simple P.I. case!
But if you know a little bit about Lincoln, and you’re a not a member of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, that shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. Lincoln, a true lover of the American justice system, had great respect for its foundational practice—the trial by jury.
Juries, as Lincoln well knew, are one of the indispensible features of self-government, where we as representatives of our community decide what practices endanger our safety and wellbeing.
Or as Lincoln put it, in his famous Rock Island Bridge case, “What is reasonable skill and care? This is a thing of which the jury is to judge.” And it’s precisely the thing that Texans for Lawsuit Reform don’t want us as jury to judge.