The legal website Above the Law can make lawyers laugh about their stories or cry if they’re in there when they get bad coverage. The site got my attention when I saw “Red Bull Gives You…Cardiac Arrest?” because of the title and what appeared to be an absurd lawsuit. A man drank a Red Bull then died of a heart attack while playing basketball, and his family is suing for $85 million. It seems like a frivolous lawsuit, and they’re asking for what seems like an outrageous amount of money, but in every cloud there’s a silver lining.
In a case like this, there’s a potential liability both legally and from a PR point of view. There’s the risk of losing the case, and the attorney representing the plaintiff could say something that supports the apparent absurdity of the law suit. Also, third-party attorneys commenting on the case could also negatively affect their reputations if they make comments that are “laughably” too serious or poke fun where a death is involved.
That’s where the silver lining comes in: in cases like this where it’s tempting to say something dismissive or too critical, it’s important to balance it out with a comment that offers a fresh view of the situation. For instance, an attorney can do research to see if there’s validity to the lawsuit by citing precedents. Elie Mystal, who wrote that post at Above the Law, mentions side effects of the drink that could give the lawsuit validity. That’s an example of showing credible opinions in a peculiar legal matter.
So if you’re asked to comment on a case that seems silly and wasteful, share your opinions when you can offer comments that add value. Or just stay away from anything that’s “bull.”