Thursday, August 22, 2002

trillion dollar lawsuits

I'm not certain I can even imagine that much money. The Christian Science Monitor says that the "amount of damages sought by victims of 9/11 attacks is unprecedented." The amount, which by clerical error was originally reported as 100 trillion dollars, is an effort by family members of victims to strike back economically at those they perceive as the sources of terrorism:
US law allows victims of terror attacks to recover from assets held in the US by foreign sponsors of terrorism identified by the State Department. Mr. Gerson says the trillion-dollar figure comes from multiplying the 3,000 victims in the Sept. 11 attacks by the average of $30 million recovered in such suits and then multiplying it by three as allowed under US law that provides for triple damages for terror victims.
That amount didn't remain unprecedented for long. On its heels comes another suit requesting almost twice as much, from a very different source. This action was filed by a California business man, and may achieve class action status:
In suits filed today in state and federal courts, software company owner Steve Kirsch and another plaintiff seek the damages provided by law, $500 for each unsolicited commercial fax over the last four years. If a judge certifies either suit as a nationwide class action on behalf of all recipients, the figure can be multiplied by 3 million, the number of faxes that the company boasts it sends each day, Kirsch said.

That comes to $2.2 trillion, even without invoking another section of the law that allows judges to triple damages for willful violations, Kirsch said.
When the damages are presented that way, it almost sounds reasonable. Counting the number of zeros in the equation's total brings it an almost surreal quality.

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