Skip to content

i’m doing my “duty”

October 20, 2008

i get to serve my county this week. i’ve been called to jury duty, again! 😕

six years ago i was selected for a medical malpractice case. it was the hardest 3 weeks of my life. a young woman was mis-diagnosed and ended up having inflammatory breast cancer. by the time her case got to us, she had only 2 years left to live.

our job, after unanimously deciding there was, indeed, medical malpractice, was to “award” her soon to be widow money.

part of that process was estimating the amount of years this young lady, age 32 at the time, would have lived…then putting together costs of her services to her marriage. cleaning, laundry, cooking, child-rearing and raising, just to name a few. i know it sounds impersonal and tactless, but that’s what we were instructed to do.

all 12 of us sat there and wept. it was extremely heart wrenching to look at her as an “invoice”.

this was NO easy task! how do you put a dollar amount on someones life? who were we to decide her worth?

who are we to decide anyone’s worth?

26 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2008 9:47 am

    Did you have a formula to follow? That does sound quite heartless. I can’t imagine how all the cooking, cleaning and child raising in the world can be costed to replace the loss of a mother and loved one. How difficult it must have been.

    I’ve been called to jury service three times but I’ve got out of it each time at the last minute. I’m starting to think that they don’t really want me. Maybe they know how awkward I can be and don’t want to go through the hassle of swearing me in.

  2. October 20, 2008 10:09 am

    Hover – it did feel heartless. it was a big struggle for all of us. there was a max limit we could give, so we made sure that we factored in every single little detail of what she might have done in her natural life span, and we eventually came up with the full amount in dollars as the settlement. it was the “least” we could do, yet it still felt so impersonal and yes, heartless.

    ive thought about about acting like i have turrets syndrome, the swearing kind. i think it would be SO funny for them to ask me my name then me go off on them 😯

    ok. maybe not.

  3. October 20, 2008 10:55 am

    oh that sounds horrible. 😦 I can’t even imagine. My chest hurts just thinking about it.

  4. October 20, 2008 11:07 am


    I’m sorry… for what I’m about to share: We watched “Nacho Libre” this weekend, and one of the most quotable moments of the movie was his decision to get “new duties”… “Soup duties” “dead man duties” “I need new duties”… So, if Sarah Markley wanders over here today, know you made her laugh as well. 😉

    (I think I’m officially stalking your blog today. sorry…)

  5. October 20, 2008 11:10 am

    It sucks, but what can you do? It’s ultimately a product of a litigious society, but then should the medical organization not be punished for their malpractice? I don’t have an answer to your question, but at some point ‘society’ is going to draw a line and the process of ‘judging’ someone’s monetary worth becomes clinical.

    I’m interested, out of of morbid curiosity though,…what number did you the jury arrive at?

  6. October 20, 2008 11:13 am

    mandy – noted. im on guard.

    james – it is sad. the max amt we could give (so it STILL was out of our control) was 6.4 million. thats what her widow received a year and a half later.

  7. October 20, 2008 11:22 am

    heart.breaking.stuff. Putting life into dollars and cents is something that is so against nature that you would think the only way to get through it is to separate your heart from your mind. But when you realize that is against nature as well, you are left with doing exactly what you did… calculate her worth and weep for her family. Wow.

    I was called to jury duty for the first time last month. Since I can’t get to my patio without medical intervention, it was pretty easy for me to get out of. I am so relieved because I would make the worst juror ever. The responsibility of sending someone to jail about makes me sweat just thinking about it… making life-changing decisions is not exactly my strong suit. 🙂

  8. October 20, 2008 12:37 pm


    Sorry. I think I’m addicted to your blog today. Can I get an intravenous drip of your rss feed??

  9. October 20, 2008 12:49 pm

    Mandy, no. But can I poke you with a needle just for fun?

  10. October 20, 2008 2:11 pm

    your conversation about needles is gross.

  11. October 20, 2008 2:16 pm



  12. October 20, 2008 3:57 pm

    I think Mandy is full of doodie today. The fact that Mandy is even talking about doodie makes me laugh so hard I might make doodie.

    All that doodie just for Mandy.

  13. October 20, 2008 4:03 pm

    I have thought about this most of the afternoon – a life is priceless – yet Christ gave his life for us – but the legal value of a life? I don’t know Tam – friends of ours lost an infant child because of serious obvious hospital neglect a simple but major incident. They got mucho dinaro – but still – the life is gone. papa will pray that God will give you good judgment & discernment .

  14. October 20, 2008 5:33 pm

    Praying for you Tam. God’s wisdom is infinte and beyond sufficient. He willl reveal it to you when you seek Him for it. Love you.

  15. October 20, 2008 6:18 pm

    Tam, being in invloved in that kind of case must have been very depressing experience. Just having to listening to both sides argue the point is depressing.

    You had no choice but to try and come up with an answer that no one has, what is a life worth?

    You did the best you could.

    I have been on jury duty about 5 or 6 times. I was assigned to two cases but both were settled out of court. I hope this time you will get lucky.

  16. October 20, 2008 7:13 pm

    ANYTHING to get to hug you again, Tammy Jo. A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
    …wait. How many needles are we talkin’ here?

    BWAN: I’m full of Nacho Libre quotes right now. Duties pron “doodies” HAHAHA. 🙂

  17. October 20, 2008 7:16 pm

    i would spend 1,000 bucks on a ticket to boston to hug you right now! seriously.

    and what the heck is up with my two different avatars?!! as if the multiple voices in my head arent enough!

  18. October 20, 2008 7:16 pm

    but not a $1,018.00. thats just pushin’ it.

  19. October 20, 2008 8:16 pm

    I think you’re having an identity crisis. The avatars prove it…
    I bet you can get tix cheaper than $1,000…. just sayin.

  20. October 20, 2008 10:10 pm

    I’ve never been on jury duty. I don’t want to be but yet I’m 24 and I’m sure there is plenty of time for me to be on a jury. I think that it will be alot harder to do for me than I truly think.

  21. October 20, 2008 10:22 pm

    amy – its an interesting thing to be a part of. some people enjoy it. my first experience wasnt so pleasant, obviously. it confuses me that people get called multiple times when others have never been called on once. maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones 😉

  22. October 21, 2008 4:12 am

    No worries.

  23. October 21, 2008 4:13 am

    whoa. 4:12 AM? Makes me look like an early riser. I’m in Missouri. Which means it’s 6:13 now. I’m no early riser. No sir-ee. Not volitionally anyway.

  24. October 23, 2008 10:27 am

    I absolutely love your website. I looked at it because I received a google alert about inflammatory breast cancer. I am on the Board of Directors of the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I was diagnosed with stage 4 ibc in the year 2000 and strongly believe that God answered my prayers and gave me back my life. IBC is so easily misdiagnosed because the symptoms are identical to a breast infection. I’m sure that came out in the trial. We do not encourage women with ibc to sue anyone for their delay in diagnosis. The tragedy is that it strikes women at such a young age. I would like to encourage all your readers to visit our website at to get more information on this terrible disease. God bless and thanks. Gayla Little, IBC Research Foundation

  25. October 23, 2008 10:39 am

    gayla – youre right. it does mirror a breast infection. problem is, this “breast infection” went on for nearly 2 years. it was, unfortunately, a clear misdiagnosis.

    but i am SO very thrilled to see you that you are doing well!

    thank you so much for leaving this info. here. i really appreciate it. and breast cancer is something we all should take very seriously!

  26. November 3, 2008 11:52 am

    how much did you award her?

    and i’ve always wanted to be on jury duty, mostly because i picture it as a scene from a john grisham book/movie… i’m sure it’s not nearly that exciting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: