Settling a case is not easy. The hardest part is simply looking at your own case objectively and trying to put a number to its value. When we sell cars, there are sources of valuation of cars. But, valuation of lawsuits is generally based on results from other similar cases. But, the thing is no two cases are truly alike. There are innumerable variations from one lawsuit to another. So, perhaps, it is not too surprising what happened in one case involving Target in South Carolina.

A customer’s daughter found a hypodermic needle in the parking lot. She picked it up. Her mother reached to swat it away and stuck herself. She sued Target. She had to take medication for possible HIV infection. Her husband had to take some time off from work. The medication made her ill. This is not the sort of lawsuit with thousands and thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Just before trial, the plaintiff offered to settle the case for $12,000. Target responded with an offer of $750. The case did not settle. The jury awarded the plaintiff $4.6 million. Oops. That $12,000 offer is looking pretty good, now. There is a cap on punitive damages. So, the award will be reduced somewhat. But, Target is surely now wishing it could go back in time. See ABA Bar Journal report.