So Sue Me! Our Ridiculous, Litigious Society
Did you hear the one about the recent college graduate who’s suing her alma mater, Monroe College in New York, for $72,000 (the full cost of her tuition)? No, she wasn’t injured on campus or a victim of gross negligence. The graduate is suing because, in her words, the college’s "Office of Career Advancement did not help me with a full-time job placement. I am also suing them because of the stress I have been going through."
Yes, you read that correctly. So now, according to this young lady, a college is not only responsible for providing you with an education, it’s also responsible for getting you a job--oh, and maintaining your stress levels at an acceptable level.
If that doesn’t get your blood boiling a bit, here’s another. A woman is suing a dolphin for $50,000 (no need to rub your eyes, that's not a typo) at the Brookfield Zoo because she slipped on water that the dolphins splashed nearby. This kookoo-for-cocoa-puffs claims the zoo “recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged the dolphins to throw water at the spectators in the stands making the floor wet and slippery,” “failed to provide warnings of the slippery floor” and “failed to provide mats … when the staff knew the floor would get wet and slippery,” among other negligent acts. Other negligent acts?? Did the dolphin commit dolphin rage and body slam her UFC-style against the glass partition? Egregiously bounce a rubber ball on her head causing thousands of dollars of injury? Eat her last, best tuna fish sandwich?? (dolphin-free of course.) Doesn't this woman have at least two brain cells of common-sense to intuit that standing near a dolphin pen might, uh, get her wet?
In fact, we should consider a “common-sense litigation” law. Lawsuits could only be filed when they passed some sort of common-sense test. The test would be performed at the cost of the claimant (never the taxpayers), and would include a panel of “experts” that might include—not judges, lawyers or politicians--but farmers, grandparents, a firefighter, maybe even an intelligent, thoughtful child. Just regular everyday common-sense folk. Certainly these individuals could effectively decide whether a particular lawsuit would even be worthy of consideration. Fees from lawsuits thrown out would go straight to the taxpayers in the form of tax rebates or to pay off the national debt. Based on the number of frivolous lawsuits filed annually, the national debt could conceivably be paid off within a year or two.
There is such a thing called personal responsibility. Regrettably, these litigators, as well as thousands of others filing such opprobrious lawsuits every day, have a iniquitous view of entitlement. They believe that they are completely free and clear of personal responsibility, yet everyone else owes them. Forget working hard, accepting blame or even sharing blame; it’s everyone else’s fault. They see lawsuits as their way of bucking the system, regardless of who they hurt or how much taxpayer money they spend (not to mention clogging the court system). It’s not just a shame, it’s an outrage.
Okay, I’ll give you one more. Two sweet teenage girls from Durango, Colorado, decided to bake cookies for the neighbors. The cookie plates consisted of half a dozen chocolate-chip and sugar cookies accompanied by “big hearts cut out of red or pink construction paper with the message: Have a great night. Love, The T and L Club," code for Taylor and Lindsey. A 49-year-old woman became so upset over the knock on her door that she called the police, and she ended up visiting the emergency room for “suffering a severe anxiety attack she thought might be a heart attack” from the door knock (the girls knocked on the doors so that the recipients would get the cookies and not neighborhood animals). Subsequently, the woman sued the poor teens and a judge awarded $930 to recoup her medical bills. She received nothing for pain and suffering. "The victory wasn't sweet," the woman said. "I'm not gloating about it. I just hope the girls learned a lesson."
Yes, girls, learn your lesson. Don’t bake cookies and perform thoughtful acts, heaven forbid. You might get sued for it.
You know, then again, maybe these folks have something. Why, just yesterday I was I driving past my neighbor’s house and noticed his lawn was much greener than mine. Never mind that he spent the past few weeks working on it while I was . . . well . . . not . The point being, his beautiful lawn makes mine look much worse than if he wasn’t living next to me, rudely taking the time to care for his lawn. Hmmmm. I bet I could sue him for “Defamation of Lawn Character” or “Instigating Weed Dissention and Turf Wars Among Neighborly Ranks”. Or, maybe I’ll file a lawsuit against Angelina Jolie for "Failure to Share Lip Property and Dimension", since her lips are prettier and fuller than mine and it’s just not fair. After all, I deserve to have lips like Angelina Jolie; she can afford the payout and somebody needs to pay for her having better lips than I do. Or I might sue Mother Nature for "Reckless and Inconsiderate Weather Assignment and Distribution", since it rained yesterday while I had planned to attend a parade and thus, could not attend, and how dare it rain on my parade.
As crazy as this sounds, it’s not half as crazy as some of these lawsuits. All kidding aside, let's seriously consider a new statute: for every frivolous lawsuit that gets thrown out, the crazy claimant has to do 800 hours of community service as well as fork over $1,000 dollars. Now, finally, something that makes sense.
Updates: Denver radio station KOA raised more than $1,900 from listeners to pay the court fine levied against the two girls who handed out cookies. The remainder of the money will go to a charity dedicated to victims of the Columbine High School shootings. (TheDenverChannel.com)
There is no update on the dolphin’s status, although some reports surfaced claiming it has offered a job to the Monroe College graduate as a full-time Sardine Feeder. The alumna turned down the job, claiming, “Something just smells fishy to me”. Oh, how we agree.
Sharon Cece © December 2009