A ostrich of outrageous lawsuits displayed the need for tort reform?

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Claim: 6 outrageous-but-real lawsuits showcase the require for tort reform.

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Status: False.


This is what’s wrong v the world:

1. January 2000: kathleen Robertson of Austin Texas to be awarded $780,000.00 through a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was to run amuck within a furniture store. The owners of the keep were easy to understand surprised in ~ the verdict, considering the misbehaving tyke to be Ms. Robertson’s son.

2. June 1998: A 19 year old Carl Truman of Los Angeles winner $74,000.00 and medical prices when his neighborhood ran his hand over with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn’t notice someone to be at the wheel that the auto whose hubcap he to be trying to steal.

3. October 1998: A Terrence Dickson the Bristol Pennsylvania was exiting a home he perfect robbing by means of the garage. That was not able to acquire the garage door to walk up, since the automatic door opener to be malfunctioning. He can not re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and also garage locked once he pulled it shut. The family members was ~ above vacation, for this reason Mr. Dickson discovered himself locked in the garage because that eight days. He subsisted ~ above a case of Pepsi the found, and a huge bag of dry dog food. This upset Mr. Dickson, so he sued the homeowner’s insurance explain the situation caused the undue mental anguish. The jury agreed come the tune of half a million dollars and change.

4. October 1999: Jerry Williams of small Rock Arkansas to be awarded $14,500.00 and medical costs after being bitten top top the buttocks by his next door neighbor’s beagle. The beagle was on a chain in the owner’s fenced-in yard, as was Mr. Williams. The award was much less than search after due to the fact that the jury feeling the dog may have actually been provoked by Mr. Williams who, in ~ the time, was shooting it repetitively with a pellet gun.

5. Might 2000: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500.00 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and also broke she coccyx. The beverage to be on the floor since Ms. Carson threw it in ~ her friend 30 secs earlier during an argument.

6. December 1997: Kara Walton that Claymont, Delaware effectively sued the owner the a night society in a neighboring city when she dropped from the bathroom home window to the floor and knocked the end her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton to be trying to sneak v the home window in the ladies room to protect against paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000.00 and also dental expenses.

Origins: This “and girlfriend wonder what’s wrong with the civilization today?” whinge appeared on the internet in might 2001. All of the entries in the list space fabrications: a find for news stories around each that these cases failed to revolve up anything, as did a find for each legislation case.

There is no legislation firm that Hogelmen, Hogelmen, and Thomas in Dayton, Ohio, as a contact to directory assistance easily confirmed. This detail was included to give the mailing credibility in the eyes of those who received it: if a regulation firm had pulled this list with each other to build grassroots assistance for its tort reform program, then it go without speak a fill of lawyers had properly researched every item and were guaranteeing the details provided. Yet of course this information was together false as everything else in the e-mail.

Speaking around implied credibility, we keep in mind that the “outrageous lawsuits” list has actually made it right into the papers at times, which just works to include to the late

that the information given in that is reliable. In June 2002, the new York day-to-day News gift it specifically as an e-mail it had received, do no statements as to its likeliness to be real or detailing any kind of attempts that publication could have made come verify any kind of of the entries. (Had together attempts been made, the daily News would have actually quickly discovered the article you’re currently reading, i m sorry originally appeared on this website a complete ten months prior to the day-to-day News piece.)

Fake or not, a list of outrageous awards bestowed ~ above those whose actions — nay, misbehaviors — had brought them come grief would autumn upon really receptive ears due to the fact that current emotion is very much against big jury awards because that frivolous claims. This e-mail preaches come the choir in the it “confirms” what is currently deeply believed.

Numerous states have actually enacted procedures to reform their civil regulation systems in response to the difficulty of frivolous lawsuits and also runaway jury awards. Tort reform usually amounts to place a cap on punitive damages awards, do the state’s joint-and-several legal responsibility law an ext equitable, and limiting judge and also court purchase (which means cases room tried in front of whomever they’ve to be assigned to rather than the judge the plaintiff numbers will be most sympathetic).

Though the instances described in the e-mail room fake, genuine lawsuits of equal silliness have the right to be discovered in abundance. An equally impressive list can easily have been compiled by anyone with access to a news database and a couple of moments come spare. For instance:

In in march 1995, a san Diego man unsuccessfully attempted come sue the city and Jack Murphy stadion for $5.4 million end something that deserve to only be described as a wee problem: Robert Glaser declared the stadium’s unisex bathroom policy at a Billy Joel and Elton john concert brought about him embarrassment and also emotional distress thanks to the sight of a woman making use of a urinal in prior of him. He subsequently tried “six or seven” various other bathrooms in the stadium just to find women in all of them. He asserted he “had to hold it in for four hours” since he was as well embarrassed to share the public bathrooms with women.

A san Carlos, California, guy sued the Escondido public Library for $1.5 million. His dog, a 50-pound Labrador mix, was struck November 2000 through the library’s 12-pound feline mascot, L.C., (also recognized as Library Cat). The situation was heard in January 2004, v the jury finding because that the defendant. In a further instance which was solved in July 2004, the plaintiff in the previous fit was bespeak to salary the city $29,362.50, which price to 75% of its legal fees linked with the case.

In 1994, a college student at the college of Idaho unsuccessfully sue that school over his loss from a third-floor dorm window. He’d to be mooning various other students as soon as the home window gave way. It was completed the university failed to carry out a safe atmosphere for college student or to effectively warn them of the threats inherent come upper-story windows.

In 1993, McDonald’s to be unsuccessfully sue over a car accident in brand-new Jersey. If driving, a male who had placed a milkshake between his legs, leaned over to reach right into his bag of food and also squeezed the milkshake container in the process. When the lid popped off and spilled fifty percent the drink in his lap, this driver became distracted and also ran into another man’s car. That man consequently tried come sue McDonald’s for leading to the accident, saying the restaurant should have cautioned the male who had hit him against eating while driving.

Although the situations cited above were all ultimately dismissed, lock still regulated to work their method at the very least partway v our court system. Once we hear together stories, it’s difficult not to it is in rabidly in donate of tort revolutionary — these type of situations make it show up that the idiots have taken over the asylum and only the quick institution of some rules is going to bring things back into a sembleance of sanity. However this systems is no all skittles and also beer; numerous see such alters as perhaps denying those in need of legit remedy their day in court and refusing them their right to be heard. The cap on jury awards is likewise viewed by part as unfair come the serious injured, who may well call for a huge sum to afford the expense of living v whatever disability someone else’s negligence or recklessness left them with. Capped awards are additionally scant deterrent to big corporations who can easily afford the judgments against them and therefore have small reason to mend their ways. Big Business is poised to advantage under tort reform in that it will certainly no longer need to are afraid the courts.

It can likewise be said that the need for tort reform is overblown. Just rarely do ridiculous lawsuits result in windfalls for the plaintiff; these instances are nearly always either thrown the end or the judgment goes because that the defendant. Some celebrated “outrageous” suits wherein judgment went for the plaintiff prove upon closer check to be much less “outrageous” than initially presented in the media. (For example, the “woman scalded by hot coffee” suit, i beg your pardon at first blush looked like the height of frivolity proved to it is in a perfectly legitimate action taken against a corporation the knew, many thanks to a string of similar scaldings it had quietly been paying off, the its coffee to be not simply hot, but dangerously hot. The customer Attorneys the California gives a good description that this case).

Tort revolutionary thus has both the advocates and its adversaries. ~ above the one hand, we bridle in ~ the assumed of the terminally clueless gift rewarded for your folly — the strikes us as just plain wrong. We also fear for the continued wellbeing that the small- come mid-sized business which have the right to ill afford come fend turn off one frivolous sue after another and thus was standing in peril of gift litigated come death. Also, also when litigants do not prevail, costs connected with your suits rain down onto the mean citizen through his count (some of which underwrite the righteousness system) and through raised prices for goods created by this firm who had actually to mount legal defenses. Yet on the various other hand, we don’t desire to see those who have actually legitimate reason denied their appropriate to sue (or in the situation of the seriously injured, their right to sue because that an appropriate amount). We likewise don’t want to view corporations operation unchecked, totally free to turn out every little thing dangerous product castle like due to the fact that the mix of capped awards and their deep pockets render them bulletproof.

It’s a complex issue, one no made any kind of easier to make sense of by list of fake instances of horrendous miscarriages of justice. One has to wonder why someone is so busy trying to stir increase outrage and also who or what the outrage would eventually benefit.

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Barbara “herded through the grapevine” Mikkelson

Additional information: George W. Bush’s an initial act upon coming to be the governor of Texas was to reform that state’s polite justice system. In January 1995, just after being sworn in, the convened a session of the legislative to handle tort reform. In ~ weeks the signed bills to limit punitive loss to $750,000, cut down ~ above “venue shopping” because that favorable judges and also juries, and made it simpler for judges to impose sanctions on plaintiffs who record frivolous suits.

Sightings: The “woman in a keep trips end a toddler, then sues the store” fiction was incorporated into an illustration of the tv drama Boston legit (“Tabloid Nation,” original air date 8 April 2008).

Last updated: 11 April 2008


Sources: linked Press. “Men’s Room invasion Prompts Suit.” The Fresno Bee. 1 April 1995 (p. F8).

Coile, Zachary. “Bush’s Formula to win Over Business.” The san Francisco Examiner. 2 October 2000 (p. A1).

Elias, Paul. “So what’s a small Litigation in between Friends?” The Recorder. 14 December 1999 (Court Watch; p. 4).

Heller, Jonathan. “Man seeks $1.5 Million native City; claims Library Cat struck His Dog.” The mountain Diego Union-Tribune. 5 might 2001 (p. B2).

Littlefield, Dana. “Suit over Library Cat’s assault Bites earlier at disabled Dog Owner.” The mountain Diego Union-Tribune. 31 July 2004 (p. NC3).

Perkins, Joseph. “We all Pay once Others document Frivolous Lawsuits.” The san Diego Union-Tribune. 18 may 2001 (p. B7).

Perry, Tony. “A One-Man project for more Women’s Restrooms.” Los Angeles Times. 18 august 1995 (p. A3).

Riffel, James. “Jury Rejects cases of Disabled Man versus City because that Cat Attack.” City News Service. 30 January 2004.

Vogt, Andrea. “Ludicrous Lawsuit against University of Idaho Rears the Ugly Head.” Lewiston Morning Tribune. 2 respectable 1994 (p. A1).

brand-new Jersey Lawyer. “Moral of a burger Suit: nothing Eat and also Drive.” 15 November 1993 (p. 3).