Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Christopher K. Gridley v. State Farm: Unfair Titling Practices (2004)

August 16, 2009

The case stemmed from Gridley’s purchase of a four-door, 1998 Volvo S70, with a clean title, at an auction in November 1999. Five months after the sale, a mechanic discovered that the Volvo had been seriously damaged in a major accident prior to Gridley’s purchase, and stated the auto had been “improperly rebuilt”.

Christopher K. Gridley of Denham Springs, Louisiana, filed suit against State Farm in June, 2000. According to the lawsuit, State Farm declared the car totaled a month prior to Gridley’s purchase, but the company failed to obtain a salvage title.

According to information gathered, Gridley’s Louisiana Counsel discovered that similar claims against State Farm and other insurers had been filed elsewhere, forming the basis of a potential class action. The St. Louis firm of Korein & Tillery were brought in as part of Gridley’s Counsel, and the case was filed in Madison County Illinois’ Third Circuit District Court. (Korein & Tillery are among the most infamous class action plaintiff firms, having won the $10.1 billion dollar judgment against Philip Morris in Illinois. Madison County, Illinois consistently ranks at the top of the American Tort Reform Association’s annual “Judicial Hellhole” list for the size of judgments rendered and, in some cases, the apparent lack of forum connection to Madison County.)

The Gridley suit became significant for reasons other than State Farm’s titling practices. National backers of tort reform have consistently attacked Illinois Courts for their outrageous Plaintiff awards. The Plaintiff’s Bar has developed a huge industry of bringing Class Action suits to these courts, and are widely accused of court “venue shopping”. Gridley, a citizen of Louisiana, attempted to demonstrate that State Farm’s significant presence in Illinois supported his choice of geographic venue. The Illinois case went back and forth through the appellate process, with one court supporting Gridley’s choice of venue, another denying the Illinois forum.

The insurance industry, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tort reform lobbyists, and corporations previously hit by Illinois judgments have jumped in to the fray in support of State Farm. Numerous, extensive amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) briefs were filed for Gridley  when it reached the Illinois Supreme Court, harshly criticizing the case as representative of national tort abuse. “The watchers of the case and the filers of the briefs hope that the court in the course of ruling affirmatively on the change of venue will formulate rules that “will put the brakes on” what they call Madison County’s ‘litigation industry’”.

The Gridley case is on the Illinois Supreme Court’s “Advisement Docket” for their January Term, 2005. It is unknown when this case will be heard again.

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Logic and Critical Thinking

August 16, 2009

Logic is a necessary part of the critical thinking process. Although our natural sense of perception sensually guides us towards rational thought, critical thinking is not met until the complex tools of logic are utilized.

Perception is the natural mechanism within our thought making process that is influenced by both sensory and emotional stimuli. We are born with the innate ability to perceive.  As young children, our perceptions are evidenced by simple determinations made. We smell a fresh daisy, and somewhere, deep within the chasms of our brain, our thought is that the incredible odor signifies that the flower is beautiful.

Later, our perceptions become more complex, and influenced largely by environmental influences and societal beliefs. For example, an adult may be emotionally repulsed or angered by a woman who undergoes an abortion. This reviled woman is the symptom of that adults’ perception, as that adult may have been largely influenced by religious doctrine or the influence of his parents’ taught morals. This type of perception is still largely emotional, and has not undergone the full circle of critical thinking.

Logic is the tool that helps drive perception towards deeper critical thinking. Through the use of logic, we are able to study arguments and persuasions on the most analytical level, and eliminate undue emotion or bias from our thought process.

My own perceptual process has often been led by extreme swings of emotion. I have discovered that my own initial perceptions prove very wrong under critical analysis. When I rely solely on my emotional perceptual process, I do not believe that I can later embark on the path of good decision making.

For example, some young adults are often entwined deeply in love affairs that have very little to do with logic. One person can perceive another on an extreme emotional level. Pheromones, the ultimate biological sensory tool, may play a large role in driving the base emotion of lust. One may make you laugh, creating an emotion of excitement and titillation, eventually leading to flirtation. These basic emotional determinations are often made on an almost subconscious level. Because young people are often unable to direct their thought processes, they find themselves locked within a web of dysfunction, the all too commonplace teenage love affair.

As adults, we can choose our romantic partners with more direction through logic. Although a suitor may make us laugh, and may strike us as attractive, we are able to determine that person is not a suitable partner. Critically, we can analyze past behaviors, and determine that the suitor has not demonstrated signs of trustworthiness. We can reflect upon that person’s verbal communication, and determine that their ideas and opinions are subtly foreign from our own. As adults, we are more capable of making rational choices because we have learned of the bitter fruits of emotional decision making. We are now capable of making choices that involve logical thought processes in coalition with our innate sense of perception.

When tools of logic are used in conjunction with our ability to perceive, we can drive our thought processes towards critical thinking. Ultimately relying upon our emotional perceptions in the beginning, critical thinking can only describe our use of logic as a refining analytical tool to help us focus on the fallacies in our thought processes.