Michael Sean Quinn*

Often in civil litigation cases a defendant will pay money to the plaintiff for alleged damages. Sometimes this is to keep damages and legal fees down, sometimes not.  Such arrangements often involved the settling defendant asserting, “We do not admit that we are guilty of any wrongdoing.”  Often the paid off plaintiff agrees that the paying defendant has said that. Sometimes the money receiving plaintiff says “and we didn’t arrive at the point when he had proved wrong doing.” It seems to me that something is being left out of this. 

It seems to me that the term “wrong-doing” refers to something someone has done, i.e., an action that is performed and that is illegal, actionable, immoral, or contrary to some sort of significant duty. So what about omissions; they not doings at all.  Omissions, however,  are often just as, if not more, important that actions.  

Therefore, it seems to me that the phrasing, both in relevant settlement agreements and in public discourse (especially the latter), should be variations on “We are not  guilty of any wrongful acts or omissions.”

*Michael Sean Quinn, Ph.D., J.D.

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