The Fear of Legal Action


The Fear of Legal Action

Let me say on the outset I know nothing about the niceties of the law. I do know that most of it is straightforward, based in common law. We know what is wrong and if you do wrong, you should be punished. What’s mine is mine and if you steal it, you should go to jail. All that is fair enough.

But lawyers don’t become zillionaires because the law is straightforward or simple. They seem to relish in complicating it to the point that only they can understand their language and the rest of us mere mortals are left gasping in incomprehension when they talk. This mystery begets fear.

And it’s the worst kind of fear, fear of the unknown. We know we did nothing wrong, but when we receive a summons, we panic, we tremble, we see thousands going to lawyers, only to prove that we are right.

(I happen to be born on the same day as a fellow in Los Angeles with the same name. He doesn’t pay his child support and has other warrants out against him. I went to Canada a couple of years ago and was stopped at the border on that warrant. I had to prove I wasn’t him. The only thing that did it was a smart border agent and my blue eyes. But the fear of suddenly facing the “system” and looking at those folks who are trained not to believe you is palpable.)

The mere threat of a lawsuit can change your life. You open your mail one day and find a letter from a law firm with 50 names down the side and engraved email addresses that says that you have done something to harm their client and unless you send money, sign documents, and whatever, you will be sued to an inch of your life and will lose your business, home, and family.

The problem is that you have never heard of the company you harmed, much less have heard of what you were supposed to have done. But folks with letters after their name are in your face and you don’t know what to do.

Maybe you own a parking facility, or provide parking services, or maybe you are a manufacturer of parking equipment. Suddenly your world is turned on its ear. What should you do?

I know that many companies simply pay, because it’s much less expensive than fighting. I really don’t know. What I do know is that often the fear is worse than meeting the challenge head on. A friend of mine says that if one is right, they should fight to the last dime. Of course he does tend to like windmills.

But what if he is right?


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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