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Learning The Lessons Of Hewlett-Packard

Harvey L. Pitt | October 31, 2006

Movie fans surely will recall Paul Newman’s stellar performance as Frank Galvin, a down-on-his-luck, often inebriated, ambulance-chasing, trial lawyer, in the 1982 film, “The Verdict.” What may not be recalled is that the movie provides an interesting backdrop for current considerations of the Hewlett-Packard Saga.

To refresh our collective recollections, Galvin is given a chance to represent Sally and Kevin Doneghy, a poor couple whose relative (Sally’s sister) was left a human vegetable because she received the wrong anesthetic before she went into labor. In theory, all Galvin need do is settle the case, give his clients 2/3 of the proposed recovery ($140,000), and pocket the rest ($70,000) for himself, without lifting a finger. Of course, movies are never that simple.

Instead, Galvin grows a conscience, rejects a promising, but probably inadequate, settlement offer — much to the chagrin of his clients (with whom he didn’t consult...

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