The Weakest Link (Space Alien Update)
St. Thomas School of Law Stipulation
Rakofsky graciously offered to settle the case with all of the defendants for the "nominal" amount of $5,000. One would have thought that all the defendants laughed. Obviously, not all.
It was silly, an extortion attempt by a child. And they seized it.
What student could possibly go to a school that would pay off Rakofsky rather than tell him to go shit in his hat? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and nothing could be weaker than to succumb to paying off Joseph Rakofsky.
At some point, someone at this school is going to be charged with teaching ethics. How does a school so utterly lacking in principle do this? It can't, but I guess no one thought of that when it approved of its insurance carrier buying its way out.
I'm absolutely disgusted that this is how anyone, but especially a law school and lawprof, would behave. Cowards? Gutless? Morons? Pray they write something mean about you, because you know they'll be happy to fork over five grand for nothing.
Update: In contrast to my rather clear disdain for acquiescing to this absurd bit of childish extortion, some on twitter raised the question of whether this settlement might have been a decision by the law school's insurance carrier to throw $5 grand Rakofsky's way as nuisance value, to rid themselves of this minor annoyance. Not that this isn't exactly what this kid might have wanted, which is precisely why this isn't a wise idea. But insurance companies think in terms of business decisions, not principles.
The point is well taken to the extent that the carrier might have been willing to toss money into the toilet, despite the complete absence of merit or jurisdiction and any potential for loss, thinking that it would cost that much to defend anyway and now it's off the books. But raising this possibility is troubling in a few ways.
But to change the analysis, a confluence of two things must have occurred:
1. The carrier had complete, unfettered determination without St. Thomas Law School's approval, or contrary to its disapproval.
2. The determination of the carrier to settle out from under St. Thomas ws done without its knowledge, such that even if the carrier had the right to settle despite the law schools disapproval, it would have exercised that right in the face of the insured's insistence that it not settle.
Is it possible that these two things occurred? Sure, but it's extremely unlikely. It's also possible that the decision-maker at St. Thomas School of Law is bipolar and agreed to settle in a state of manic delusion, but that's not likely either. And let's not even get into the space alien possibilities. The point is, when you hear the sound of hoofbeats, don't assume it's a zebra.
And even if they did occur, there was nothing to stop St. Thomas Law School or Debby Hackerson from asserting, once this became known, that this settlement was contrary to their wishes, their belief, their principles. No such statement has been made.
All of this makes me wonder why some would make the effort to "explain" (what I would better characterize as "excuse") this act of stupidityu and cowardice. Some innate human desire to be contrarian, perhaps? Some desire to show how smart you are, a rather typical affect of lawyers? No matter, as Occams Razor teaches us that the simplest explanation that accounts for all known facts is usually the correct one. There are always outlier arguments, which provide a convenient excuse.
If my assessment of St. Thomas School of Law is wrong, then I invite them to say that they disavow this settlement and despise that it made them appear to sacrifice principle to buy their way out of this completely frivolous lawsuit.
If not, I side with Mark Bennett who wrote of this monumental collapse of judgment and spine:
Well, St. Thomas? Was is space aliens?
From some individual non-lawyer blogger, afraid of going to court, that might be acceptable, but from a law school it is not. Aspiring lawyers, unless they aspire to learn the art of surrender, should avoid St. Thomas; employers, unless they are in the surrender business (like James J. Toomey of New York, who made the deal for these defendants?) will avoid St. Thomas grads.