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The amount of the settlements also indicates that there’s not much here. Cain says that one of the women was paid about three or four months salary, or $13,000, to go away – she sued, Cain says, after she was fired for incompetence. Generally, a settlement amount can tell us a lot about the viability of the case itself. When Paula Jones sued Bill Clinton, he ended up paying her some $850,000.
The small settlement amount in the Cain case is explicable by a common legal strategy on the part of the plaintiff. When a plaintiff wants to hit a deep pocket up for some money, they take a shaky case to a lawyer. The lawyer evaluates the case and sees if it has any merit at all. If it’s not a violation of bar rules, the lawyer then takes on the case and approaches opposing counsel. Here’s the case the lawyer makes to the defense counsel: “Sir, it costs me only a few hundred dollars to file a complaint with the relevant court. If I do, it will cost you probably $600 per hour for your high-priced lawyers to respond. At the very least, it will take 100 hours to defend any decent claim. So, you can either spend $60,000 on lawyers, or you can spend $15,000 to send me and my client on our merry ways.”
The settlement in Cain’s case, if he is telling the truth as to amount, looks very much like the typical threaten-and-settle. The danger of Politico’s charge is that those who don’t understand how legal maneuvering works take such charges seriously and wonder why Cain doesn’t speak out. His silence is seen as tacit admission of his guilt, when the truth could be precisely the opposite.
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