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Stupid Lawsuits

Updated on May 24, 2010

Where is our country going nowadays? I’m not talking about politics, economy or any of the usual “our country is on the wrong track” sort of thing—I’m referring to lawsuits, specifically frivolous lawsuits. Granted, our country allows us the freedom to file lawsuits to allot us some compensation for unethical business decisions, doctor malpractice, negligence of employees, and other sorts of things, and amen to that. But by taking one look at some of the lawsuits people have the nerve to file in the United States of America, one has to wonder just how stupid and greedy some of our fellow Americans are.

Most people are familiar with the story of Stella Liebeck, the elderly 79-year-old woman who spilled McDonald’s coffee on herself and proceeded to sue McDonald’s for $2.9 million in damages in 1992. But Stella’s story doesn’t even begin to take the cake. How about Barbara Connors, an elderly woman who went driving with her 70-year-old son-in-law when they crashed into the Connecticut River? Connors was lucky enough to be promptly saved by some rescue divers, albeit with some brain damage, but she had the nerve to sue the rescue divers who saved her life anyway. Apparently, they didn’t save her fast enough (even though they came within minutes) and therefore the brain damage is their fault… never mind the fact that it was her son-in-law’s own negligent driving that led to her being trapped in a car in a lake in the first place. Consider how ridiculous this woman sounds: get saved but live with brain damage, or die. One would think she’d be grateful that she got saved at all.

One of my personal favorites is the lawsuits in which people sue McDonalds or other fast food places because—unbelievably enough—the restaurant didn’t warn them that the foods would make them fat! Caesar Barber, a morbidly obese, diabetic, heart-disease suffering 54-year-old, ate at fast food restaurants 4 to 5 times a week, and consequently sued McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s and Burger King because they didn’t tell him how unhealthy their foods were. After a judge thankfully threw the case out of court, Barber filed suit again, and the judge threw it out again and barred it from being filed a third time. Tell me, are restaurants supposed to inform their customers on basic common sense now? Did Barber not see himself getting fatter and realize that it might be his eating habits making him this way? Please tell me Barber isn't representative of the general population.

Although the judge in the Caesar Barber case had enough common sense to throw the case out, some judges apparently don’t. Roy L. Pearson, Jr., an administrative law judge, accused a dry-cleaner of losing his pants. Fair enough, that’s pretty irritating. But rather than charging the dry-cleaning service the cost of the lost pants, Pearson decided it’d be more appropriate to sue the dry-cleaning service $65 million. Let’s hope those pants he lost were made of gold. On a different note, how about Rhonda Nichols, who, while standing outside a Lowe’s department store, was “attacked” by a wild bird? She claimed she suffered head injuries from the attack and consequently sued Lowe’s for $100,000 for allowing wild birds to fly freely outside.

Perhaps the most wretched case of all would be this one: a one-year-old child fell into the backyard pool and nearly drowned. His mother found him blue in the face floating in the pool, and of course promptly called 911. The rescue workers sent to resuscitate the child successfully managed to revive him, but the child was left with severe brain damage. During the process of resuscitating the child, one of the workers, Andrea Eichhorn, reportedly slipped on a puddle in the house and broke her knee. The injuries from the fall left her with persistent knee pain, Eichhorn claimed, and she might even develop arthritis! In a scenario like this, what’s the proper moral thing to do? Why, sue the family of the child, because they certainly don’t already have enough problems. And never mind the fact that the child is now in a nursing home with round-the-clock care and can no longer talk, walk, swallow or see—that’s insignificant compared to being unable to work for two months. As the topping on the cake, when the family balked at being sued, Eichhorn’s lawyer accused the family of “playing the victim.”

In examining all of these cases, it becomes painfully clear the rampant abuse of our legal system. Inarguably all of these cases stem from greed and the failure to take responsibility for one’s own actions, but that poses the question: what does behavior like this say about our society? Is it okay to sue businesses the way Caesar Barber did? Surprisingly, more people than one would expect agree—this exact case is quite common, juries inevitably seem to award these sort of cases ludicrous amounts of money, and politicians have passed a medley of laws “protecting” the consumer from these sort of instances. But what are we “protecting” the consumer from? You can’t protect people from their own stupidity.

Moreover, what sort of effect does it have on the sued? Cases like Barbara Connor’s are surprisingly common, and thus people don’t want to stop to help those in need anymore because of the liability of being sued. Ironically, as the renowned comedian George Carlin pointed out, people are now so reluctant to lend a hand in dire situations, lawmakers are actually considering passing laws requiring people to stop and help.

But most importantly, what does it say about our morals in the United States? Our society’s avarice, increasing tendency to blame our misfortunes on others and resistance towards taking responsibility for our actions is highlighted in frivolous lawsuits. People have gained the mentality that no matter what happens—whether it be pure bad luck or their own poor choices—it’s not their fault, and businesses and the government will clean up after them. Because of our avarice and inability to take responsibility, we’ve become a frivolous-law-suit-happy society. Although hearing about stupid lawsuits is amusing, at the same time it concerns me greatly. Stella Liebeck and her follows offer an important question: if this is how our society acts now, where are we headed?


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      jeff 5 years ago

      The McDonald's coffee law suit!? Sorry, but you don't know the facts. That particular McDonald's location had over a dozen previous complaints about the temperature of the coffee (well over 200 deg. Near boiling!). They did nothing about it. Then, this woman was handed a coffee without the lid securely attached and it spilled on her leg. The burn was so severe that the woman suffered 3rd degree Burns and had to under go 4, that's 4!!! Skin graphs in order to get it to heal!! After all that she was only actually awarded less than $300,000. These are the facts. What if that was your mother or grandmother!

    • barranca profile image

      barranca 6 years ago

      You might be interested in this like about the "infamous" MacDonalds coffee lawsuit:

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      Firebird 6 years ago

      Its time to end these idiotic lawsuits we can no longer allow our courts to be tied up with such frivolous lawsuits just to line the pockets of a bunch of greedy trial lawyers