The Seventh Circuit today tossed a $6.3 million verdict and judgment against Underwriters Laboratories for its incompetent testing of a successful European chimney-lining product for use in the United States.  The court held that no reasonable set of jurors could find harm to the manufacturer from UL’s stringing it along until the American market soured on the product.  Their Honors even went on to order entry of judgment for UL.  Kikson v. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., No. 06-3766 (7th Cir. June 28, 2007).

By the way, Blawgletter makes no comment on the relative intelligence of judges and jurors.  That would miss the point.  The seventh amendment guarantees trial of the facts by a jury.  It does so not because jury trial renders perfect outcomes — although it does every bit as well, in our view, as bench trials and arbitrations do and probably better.  No, we love it also because it empowers ordinary citizens and therefore adds a vital democratic element to the system of justice.  Reversing and rendering should happen rarely — and with regret/  That didn’t happen in Mr. Kikson’s case.

Barry Barnett

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