Our judicial system offers us a way to express grievances and settle disputes in a legal, rational way. This should be a good thing- a means to an end when opposing parties cannot come to a mutual understanding. But have we, as a nation, taken advantage of this system meant to protect us? The answer is glaringly obvious when we look into some of the incredible suits that have been filed.
We all remember the infamous McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit of ’94, where a woman spilled coffee on herself and guess what… It was hot! The jury thought it fair to award the plaintiff nearly $3 million, the judge reduced that sum and the two parties settled on an undisclosed amount. Granted McDonald’s coffee is hot, but if one goes into an establishment to order a straight coffee it’s expected that the beverage will be served hot. It is no fault of McDonald’s that an accident occurred and yet Ms. Liebeck made a nice chunk of change out of the whole ordeal.
In 2006, a man named Allen Heckard filed a suit against Michael Jordan and (Nike founder) Phil Knight for destroying his life by making Michael Jordan so famous. He dropped the $832 million (yes, folks, you read that right: $832,000,000) claim without stating why. Perhaps he realized they didn’t really look so similar at all? The point remains, this man tried to sue another to gain an insane amount of money because he shared a few similar physical characteristics with the NBA all-star.
Then there’s the 2009 case involving a newly-graduated college student. The young woman, Trina Thompson, sued Monroe College because in the three months post graduation she had been unable to find a job with which to put her degree to use. She asked for $72,000 (the cost of tuition and damages from the stress of looking for work). She was awarded nothing. This was obviously a woman looking for a quick pay day. In 2009 the unemployment rate varied from 7.9%-10% an all time high over the last decade. No college or university can guarantee a graduate a job, no matter the amount of resources they offer. With Thompson’s 2.7 GPA, this should have been no surprise to her.
We can’t forget the numerous accounts of burglars suing homeowners for injuries acquired while breaking the law. The fact that these lawsuits are even allowed to take place, let alone some of these cases have actually been won, is an atrocity.
There is an unreal amount of bogus lawsuits out there. Some have been won, some have been lost, some have been dropped when the plaintiff realizes the error of his or her ways. We are becoming a nation refusing to take responsibility, pushing blame onto others and looking to make a quick buck at the same time. It’s time to make some changes so legitimate claims get the attention and fair judgments they deserve.
*Unemployment Statistics courtesy of the Bureau of Unemployment Statistics