Is Borat Bad for Lawyers?

Borat made more legal news this week, first as a court denied the request for an injunction by the two South Carolina fraternity brother plaintiffs. No great surprise there, given the waivers and the free speech defense. Meanwhile, earlier today, another South Carolina man sued over a scene that did not make the final cut of the film but was floating around the internet, and which I include here. The plaintiff claims that he was humiliated both by the original encounter and by the publicity it subsequently received. (He is not identifiable in the version I've posted, although for all I know, even this version may soon be scrubbed from Google Videos.)

In following the lawsuits and the public reaction to them, I can't help but think that Borat is likely to reinforce negative views about plaintiffs, lawyers and our civil justice system. The overwhelming reaction of the public goes something like this: "Oh, come on. Lighten up. Borat didn't make you say or do anything that didn't come from you. And you signed the waiver."

That may well be a sensible reaction with respect to the Borat suits--although whether or not it is would depend on the facts of each case--but it reinforces a generally negative stereotype of civil plaintiffs, who, many people think, should just tough it out like the rest of us. Interestingly, this corporate-defendant-friendly view is generally NOT the view of most Americans when they actually sit as jurors, but in thinking about the civil justice system in general terms, people tend not to be very sympathetic to plaintiffs and are especially unsympathetic to the plaintiffs' bar