Say what you will about Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, there is one unintended consequence of this imbroglio: citizens are getting basic lessons in the law. Finally, lay individuals can understand the significance of arbitration versus trial and the implications of that speedier and private hearing. They have now heard the term “removal” and understand it may not be about splinters; now they learn it may be better to be in federal court than state court, especially when it comes to enforcing arbitration agreements. Citizens have learned of a retired judge—without a robe and a gavel, but as an arbitrator—sign an ex parte order to desist and not give notice to the person who is affected. TV viewers learn about liquidated damages versus unenforceable penalties. Terms like “reformation of a contract” and “rescission of a contract” are tossed around like new entries in the Urban Dictionary. And for those who did not sign a contract, but they could have/should have, there is the wonderful turn of phrase, “third party beneficiary”!
Constant tutorials abound on defamation of a public figure versus not a public figure, and the implications for liability of a group epithet versus an individual epithet. “Unconscionability” is now a word tossed about at the water cooler. Every viewer of cable news has learned about the implications of non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s). The TV legal pundits explain, sometimes correctly and sometimes incorrectly, what is discovery and what discovery may be available. The deposition of D.D., President Trump’s alias in the Stormy Daniels controversy, is the most coveted for opponents of the president and the most dreaded by his supporters. The predictions of legal “talking heads” on the outcomes of summary judgment motions are deliberately ambiguous and noncommittal.
Where will it end? There are many possibilities, again educational: dismissal without prejudice; dismissal with prejudice; no cause of action; judgment notwithstanding the verdict; and judgment proof. Can remittitur or additur be far behind as new concepts for citizens?