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David W. Eckman, Christian Attorney
Justice scales

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You Have Been Hurt, But Should You Sue?

Copyright 1999-2010 by David W. Eckman

eckman-law.com

For someone living according to the world's standards, deciding whether to sue is often simply a question of how much the person can get or of "protecting" the person's rights. But for someone consecrated to YHWH (Yahweh), the heavenly Father revealed in Jesus Christ by his Holy Spirit, someone who has accepted YHWH as king, that decision is not and should not be a simple one. Here are a few considerations that I think are relevant:

Preliminary Considerations

Whether Christian or not, there are several things anyone will want to consider before deciding to sue:

  1. Damages: have you been damaged monetarily? That is, have you lost money or been forced to spend money? Or have you suffered damages that will require money to set right? If not, what do you want? Is there another way to reach the same result?

  2. Cause: Did the other person act intentionally or recklessly? Or did the other person merely make a mistake?

  3. Cost: Even if a lawyer takes a case on a contingent fee basis (the lawyer's fee comes out of the judgment or settlement), the lawyer has to charge you for expenses (such as filing fees, other court costs and depositions). And the lawyer's fee reduces the amount you will receive if you succeed in getting a settlement or judgment.

  4. Attorney fee taxed to you: The U.S. Supreme Court decided a few years ago that the contingent fee paid to an attorney out of the amount collected by a claimant is income taxable to the claimant. In fact, even if you pay the attorney's fee out of pocket, any attorney's fee awarded to you by a court or agreed to in a settlement may be taxed to you to the extent the fee is paid. Of course, you may be able to deduct what you paid, but you would have to confirm that with a tax lawyer or CPA.

  5. Time: Lawsuits take time. Most lawsuits require you to invest a lot of your own time, and that may include time lost from work on a day and at a time someone else chooses. People have lost jobs for this reason.

  6. Emotional strain: Lawsuits can and typically do create major stress, not merely the financial and time stresses just mentioned, but also emotional and mental stress. Litigants lose sleep, gain and lose weight (depending on your tendency), become irritable, worry more, and often experience family and marital problems.

  7. Countersuits: Sometimes a person who is sued will countersue. If that person wins and you don't, you will owe that person. And if yours was a contingent fee case, your attorney may withdraw and you might find yourself having to pay your next attorney out of your pocket.

  8. Owing other party's attorney's fees: Even if your case has some merit, the way in which it has been handled can result in a judge's ordering you and your attorney to pay the opposing party's attorney's fees. And if the judge thinks your case was without merit, that is a very likely outcome of your lawsuit. Even your attorney's opinion on the merits of your case may not help you.

  9. Collecting: Even if you win, can you collect the judgment? Many defendants are so burdened by other debts that they have few, if any, assets to pay a judgment, and they often take bankruptcy to avoid all of them. Some judgments cannot be avoided by bankruptcy, but the process of the bankruptcy can consume assets of the debtor that might have paid you.

  10. Effect on other party: Will a judgment destroy another person financially, or will insurance pay the judgment? Or is the defendant a large, solvent corporation that can easily afford to pay a judgment?

Biblical Considerations

For Christians, there is more: Without quoting them, here are just a few of the Biblical references (with shorthand references) that a Christian will want to consider:

Matt. 5:25-26, Luke 12:58-59 (settle quickly with your adversary); 1 Cor. 6:1-11 (taking another to court instead of before the saints); James 2:6 (rich drag poor into court); Matt. 7:1, Luke 6:37-38 (judge not); John 8:1-11 (neither do I condemn you).

Matt. 18:21-35, Mark 11:25-26, Luke 17:3-4, Col. 3:13 (forgive to be forgiven, forgive 70x7); Luke 6:41-42 (removing a speck from a neighbor's eye); Lev. 19:18, Matt. 22:39-40, Mark 12:31-34, Rom. 13:9-10, James 2:8 (love your neighbor); Luke 10:29-37 (who is my neighbor); Luke 23:34 (Father, forgive them); John 20:23 (forgiving and retaining sins: consider who retains the sins not forgiven); Rom. 15:2-4 (build up our neighbor); Matt. 5:43-44, Rom. 12:19-21 (love enemies, never take revenge, do good); Luke 9:54-55 (you know not what spirit you are of [KJV]).

Matt. 6:25-34 (seek first YHWH's kingdom and what pleases him); James 4:11-12 (one lawgiver and judge); Matt. 16:26-27 (no profit in gaining world and losing soul); Matt. 20:25-28, 23:11-12, John 12:26 (servant of Jesus, servant of all); 2 Tim. 2:24-3:5 (how YHWH's servant behaves); Isa. 45:5-12 (I am YHWH . . . creating calamity [NASB]); Rom. 12:28 (God works all for good); Eph. 5:21, Prov. 15:22, 21:30, 24:6, 1 Cor. 12:12-14 (submit to one another, the counsel of the body, many counselors).

Spiritual Considerations

Love of Jesus makes Christians consider whom they serve, and why, and what their first duty is. I encourage you to seek YHWH's will: in prayer, in scripture and in the counsel of mature and prayerful Christians.

As you listen for YHWH's answer, ask if a lawsuit is likely to please YHWH. Ask if Jesus will be glorified. Seek Godly counsel, not that of the world. The world may regard you as a fool for not going to court, but the foolishness of God is wiser than all the "wisdom" of this world. When tempted to assert your "rights", examine the rights the Bible gives you as a servant of YHWH. Which of those are you taking to Court?

In considering what to do, beware of thinking that you are an instrument of YHWH's vengeance. If you look carefully at the Bible, you will find that the people YHWH typically used for his vengeance were not his children. For example, he used the Assyrians to destroy Israel, the Babylonians to destroy Judah and the self-righteous to scatter the early church. Remember who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." (Rom. 12:19)

This article does not attempt to address additional considerations involved in deciding whether to file divorce and other family court cases (which are lawsuits, but with very different purposes and outcomes), although some of the considerations above apply even to family law cases. In addition, this article does not apply to probate matters, which are also lawsuits, unless they involve contests. And if a contest is being considered, then many of the comments above will apply.

Conclusion

A Christian has more to consider (and overcome) before deciding to sue than someone outside the body of Jesus Christ: Sometimes a lawsuit may be appropriate, but often it's not. And sometimes there are other legal solutions. As a Christian lawyer, I urge you to remember that in all legal matters, though it is wise and proper to seek Godly counsel, nevertheless YHWH must be in charge. Our first duty is to serve him, to fulfill his commission to us, to be transformed from within by the work of the Holy Spirit so that our lives and our words reflect the life of Jesus Christ at work in us, even if imperfectly. Meditate on what pleases him.

If you place your basic trust or faith in the ability of any lawyer, it is misplaced; if you put your trust or faith in YHWH, you can do no better. In all things, remember that Jesus Christ really is LORD.

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*YHWH or YHVH is the English representation of the four Hebrew letters that spell the name of the God of the Bible, the one true, living God worshipped by Jews and Christians. YHWH was the name by which he identified himself to Moses in Ex. 3:14. According to references that I've read, the exact pronunciation of YHWH's name was lost in antiquity. I prefer to pronounce the name "Yah-o-wah" (the "h" being aspirated as in "hay"), but the generally accepted pronounciation in common English is "Yah-weh" or "Yah-way". Some translations of the Bible, such as the KJV and NASB, substitute "the LORD" for his name, following a practice begun before Jesus' birth.

YHWH revealed himself in various ways to the children of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament. He also revealed himself in and through his son Jesus Christ and acts, among other ways, in and through Christians by the Holy Spirit. Because the word "God" is being used today to designate all kinds of human inventions, although accepted for centuries in English as a name for YHWH, I prefer to use the name that YHWH chose for himself rather than "God" or "the LORD" as I did in early versions of my writings. Please read The Name of the One True, Living God for a fuller discussion.

Remember who He is and whose you are

4.Mar.02, rev 20.May.10