View Full Version : "The Label on a Letter Opener says "Safety Goggle Recommended."

01-11-2009, 01:28 AM
Litigation Nation

Called to a Florida school that could not cope, police led the disorderly student away in handcuffs, all 40 pounds of her 5-year-old self.

In a Solomonic compromise, schools in Broward County, Fla., banned running at recess.

Long Beach, N.J., removed signs warning swimmers about riptides, although the oblivious tides continued.

The warning label on a five-inch fishing lure with a three-pronged hook says "Harmful if swallowed";

the label on a letter opener says "Safety goggle recommended."

No official at the Florida school would put a restraining arm around the misbehaving child lest he or she be sued, as a young member of Teach for America was, for $20 million (the school settled for $90,000), because the teacher put a hand on the back of a turbulent seventh-grader to direct him to leave the classroom. Another teacher's career was ruined by accusations arising from her having positioned a child's fingers on a flute. A 2004 survey reported that 78 percent of middle and high school teachers have been subjected to legal threats from students bristling with rights. Students, sensing the anxiety that seizes schools when law intrudes into incidental relations, challenge teachers' authority.

Someone hurt while running at recess might sue the school district for inadequate supervision of the runner, as Broward County knows: It settled 189 playground lawsuits in five years. In Indiana, a boy did what boys do: He went down a slide headfirst -- and broke his femur. The school district was sued for inadequate supervision. Because of fears of such liabilities, playgrounds all over America have been stripped of the equipment that made them fun. So now in front of televisions and computer terminals sit millions of obese children, casualties of what attorney and author Philip Howard calls "a bubble wrap approach to child rearing" produced by the "cult of safety." Long Beach removed the warning signs because it is safer to say nothing: Reckless swimmers injured by the tides might sue, claiming that the signs were not sufficiently large or shrill or numerous, or something. Only a public outcry got the signs restored.

Defensive, and ludicrous, warning labels multiply because aggressiveness proliferates. Lawsuits express the theory that anyone should be able to sue to assert that someone is culpable for even an idiotic action by the plaintiff, such as swallowing a fishing lure.

A predictable byproduct of this theory is brazen cynicism, encouraged by what Howard calls trial lawyers "congregating at the intersection of human tragedy and human greed." So:

A volunteer for a Catholic charity in Milwaukee ran a red light and seriously injured another person. Because the volunteer did not have deep pockets, the injured person sued the archdiocese -- successfully, for $17 million.

The thread connecting such lunacies is a fear permeating American life. It is, alas, a sensible fear arising from America's increasingly perverse legal culture that is the subject of what surely will be 2009's most needed book on public affairs -- Howard's "Life Without Lawyers: Liberating Americans From Too Much Law."

A nation in which the proportion of lawyers in the workforce almost doubled between 1970 and 2000 has become ludicrously dense with laws. Now legal self-consciousness is stifling the exercise of judgment. Today's entitlement culture inculcates the idea that everyone is entitled to a life without danger, disappointment or aggravation. Any disagreement or annoyance can be aggressively "framed in the language of legal deprivation."


01-11-2009, 01:37 AM
THIS CRAP ^^^^ is why I am not teaching.

Fear of law suits is why every school employee must get forms verifying that they have not been convited of child molestation. They say it's to protect the children - but if law makers really want to protect the children they will either execute or give life to all persons convicted of child molestation. All these forms do is inform the school if you have a RECORD of doing it in the past - not if you are - or WILL do it. With these forms the schools can claim - well we screened that person . . . .:rolleyes:

01-11-2009, 03:32 AM
On a similar note...
My mother is a nurse who reviews medical claims for GEICO insurance and almost every time I talk to her, she tells me ridiculous stories about cases she and her review department work on. Of course this is Florida, so I would assume most other states would be better, but here the list of ones I remember which stick out:

- I have heard her mention many times the first case she got...a car bumped into one which bumped into the one in front of it...an elderly woman in her Cadillac. She sued both drivers behind her for something like $100k-200k for neck pain, taxi rides to the hospital while her car was in the shop (for a couple of weeks), emotional stress, and a few other things. She had a couple hundred dollars in damage: the bumper needed to be painted (not replaced) and the light on the license plate needed to be replaced.

- About a month ago, eight latinos sued for nearly $1m in medical costs and emotional damages. However, they were all from different cities (quite far apart). Well, when my mom was going over the official police report, she noted that it listed no passengers. Indeed, her department called the police officer who wrote the report and had him testify that there were no passengers. Threatening them with perjury, they settled for $10k.

- A common scam, especially in S.Florida, is for latinos (and I'm not trying to be racist here) to stand on the curb in front of stores and wait for drivers who are looking down the aisles, walk (or even run) in front of the car, fall over, and sue the maximum of the policy for being hit. One in particular recently tried suing a driver for $100k (the driver's full policy). Since the police report had no witnesses, they got the surveillance camera footage which showed the man loitering in front of a Publix for about 20 minutes, his head was turned looking at the car, and then suddenly he ran (not walked) into the road. He actually ran into front side of the car (not hit by the front), then fell landing on his ass. However, he was suing that he had fractures in his arm, pain in his back, etc. When they showed the footage in court, the story changed that his foot was run over by the front tire ("the translator mistranslated" of course)...of course he was walking around fine after the accident, through the police report, and refused treatment saying he was fine.

-Another instance was when a 19 year old was hit and killed and her parents were suing for $1m (you know, emotional distress and all). Their precious daughter had no job, was pregnant and had a 2 yo, was planning on getting her GED soon, and wanted to become a veterinarian...are you feeling sad yet? Turns out she dropped out of high school (in like 9 or 10th grade), and the autopsy showed her BAC was about .30 (isn't that almost lethal in itself?) and she had a modest amount of heroine in her system. But still, didn't the driver see her? Well it was just over the hump of a bridge in the early morning and she was one of those goth-type (in the XL black hoodie and jeans). The police reenacted the scene and took all the jury members in the police car to see what the driver saw. Apparently the driver could only see the girl for a couple of seconds before the accident and was acquitted by all the jury.

I could continue with many, many more...but the above are all the ones I could remember much of the details for. But thats not the important part, the important thing you should be aware of is the impact all these frivolous lawsuits have on your insurance premiums. GEICO employs numerous full-time lawyers to work on such cases in addition to hundreds of people, like my mother. In the Florida office (excluding S.FL, which recently got its own office), these employees save the company $10-15 million per month. Furthermore, they will often go into arbitration to avoid lengthy and costly legal battles...which is giving up and paying anyways. In these tough economic times, the number of such cases has skyrocketed.

It's not just insurance premiums which take a hit, but also society as a whole as those who lose their court battles often resort to bankruptcy. Why? Well... "vicitim" sees ad on tv for "1-800-ask-XXXX" (Gary, Joey, etc), victim calls purported "accident help line", victim is referred to lawyer, victim sees lawyer who tells them they are "entitled" to $XXX thousand dollars (neglecting to mention they will receive 40-50% of it) and that they know a wonderful doctor/chiropractor who they can see (who happens to be their friend and they receive a big referral reward), victim visits said doctor/chiropractor, victim is told they need a certain surgery which is not covered by insurance which is usually a $80-100k procedure approved by the FDA but experimental (as in the medical community is not convinced of its benefits), victim has said procedure performed surgery center (unlicensed and therefore unable to give IV antibiotics or anesthesis) on the 2nd floor of a strip mall (!), victim leaves 2 hours later feeling better but high on over-the-counter pain relievers, victim includes the outrageous (and insanely unsafe) surgery in their claims (along w/emotional stress and likewise), victim loses lawsuit, victim is forced to pay for the grossly overpriced surgery, victim goes bankrupt. Fortunately, the FL Bar Assn. has cracked down (http://www.jameshartlaw.com/blog/personal-injury-lawyer-referral-service-found-unethical-florida-consumers-beware.cfm) on lawyers involved in such ads.

Yes, it's not just schools and towns that are suffering from frivolous lawsuits, we are all feeling the effects on our wallets when we pay our insurance premiums (as I imagine other insurers are facing the same thing)!!

Constitutionally Speaking
01-11-2009, 10:20 AM
All of this puts a drain on our economy and costs us jobs. Not just in the insurance industry - ALL industries.

It is one of the top 10 reasons our jobs are relocating overseas.