The Nine Amendments to the Constitution

Everyone seems to think ten amendments were enacted. That is true, but only nine have survived to this July 4th, 2002. The seventh is no more for a huge number of us. The right to trial by jury to determine liability and damages if the matter in controversy is over $20.00 doesn't apply to all men with inalienable rights. Sure, $20.00 today doesn't buy what it did in 1776, but that is not the issue.

For the past 28 years, since the day after former President Nixon resigned, I have represented literally thousands of U.S. citizens, residents and non-residents, legals and illegals who have been seriously injured and disabled through the negligence of another but who have lost their rights to trial by jury. I am not speaking of felons in prisons. The murderers and terrorists still retain their right to sue their jailers for negligence if it causes them injury and they get a jury trial to assess fault and damages.

I am talking about you. Each and every one of you who works for a living. You Mr. Editor sitting at your desk on that old office chair with three wheels that work because the boss doesn't have the money in this years budget to get you a new chair. You Mr. Police officer driving that unsafe cruiser with the faulty exhaust and you Mr. Fruitpicker exposed to harmful pesticides without proper protection. You don't have the seventh amendment, you have workers' compensation, and we all know what that means.

Mr. Editor, fall off that chair and break your neck. Then, try to get proper and prompt medical care, try to keep your family intact with 2/3 of your salary up to a maximum of under $600.00 per week. Try to understand why your benefits get cut in half at the end of 104 weeks even though you are still undergoing therapy. Try to understand that in 1935 the Florida legislature decreed the seventh amendment doesn't apply to you or your family. And you Mr. Policeman, dead in your car of carbon monoxide poisoning, your widow and children will just have to get along after the $100,000.00 death benefit runs out after just over three years. They can't sue the mechanics and the supervisors who decided that it just didn't pay to fix that old car correctly. And you Mr. Fruitpicker, you will have to find a lawyer who is willing to spend countless hours and thousands of dollars of his own money to get the necessary scientific evidence to prove that the chemicals you literally bathed in and that we all know are dangerous caused your particular form of asthma, or cancer or pulmonary disease, or brain damage, because you can bet your life (and you did when you went to work in Florida) that no compensation insurer will accept your claim before the appellate courts have ruled in your favor, 5 years or more down the road. But don't expect to be compensated for loss of enjoyment of life or pain and suffering. Only a jury can do that for you, but not YOU.

We have only nine amendments left. On this Independence Day make the best of them, they are precious beyond anything you can imagine, unless of course you know the value because you lost the right to the seventh one and were injured on the job.

God Bless America.

Mark Zientz