The colossal Colossus travesty

The SE Texas Record Mar. 28, 2009, 2:53am

Some rich and powerful lawyers soon will get $28 million in fees.

Their clients, allegedly wronged by auto insurance claim adjustments, will get nothing.

It's the latest outrage in the infamous Colossus lawsuit, one of the most outrageous class actions this nation has suffered through, now winding down just up the highway in Texarkana, Ark.

As reported this week by Michelle Massey, the 580th Colossus defendant (out of 581) agreed to settle this week, admitting no guilt but agreeing to pay a ring of roving plaintiff's lawyers, led by Texarkana heavies John Goodson and Matt Keil, millions of dollars to leave them alone.

Virginia-based Computer Science Corp. (CSC), a leading maker of software used by insurance adjusters and the central defendant in Colossus, knows it did nothing wrong. It believes its legal assailants-- lawyers who move in the same circles with presiding Judge Kirk Johnson--cannot win on the evidence.

But it also had to consider the sad reality that their legal struggle is brought in a courtroom where they believe the odds, unfortunately, are stacked against them.

Goodson and Keil have proved their home court advantage many times over, dragging out the seemingly baseless case four long years and costing CSC millions in legal fees. The daunting expense of an actual trial was to come next, coupled with the risks of putting their company's fate in the hands of a judge whose pro-plaintiff rulings speak volumes. Then there is the hometown jury to consider.

Provided Judge Johnson approves the settlement at an August hearing, a handful of Arkansas lawyers will receive $28 million from CSC. Most of the group already are very rich. Now some of them will have generational wealth. They can buy more vacation homes, yachts, and country club memberships. Their clients will not share a penny.

And if they're Goodson or Keil, they can continue to pour tens of thousands into political funds to buy power and influence; to elect politicians who seem willing to support laws promoting class action lawsuits where the victims are victimized. Not surprisingly, both men count themselves among the largest campaign contributors in their state.

Meanwhile, along with the rest of the defendants in this case, CSC will have less money to grow its business and it will have less money to invest and hire people.

And all this for what? For absolutely nothing, we now know.

One must conclude that Colossus wasn't about justice for consumers. It wasn't about colluding insurance companies or evil software. It was a careful legal action by slick, trial lawyers to use our court system to make themselves filthier rich.

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