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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Turning Lawsuits Into Lottery Tickets!

I am in USA, or is it United States of Attorneys? Statistics show that 70 percent of the world's attorneys are in USA, with only 10 per cent of the world's population. A lawsuit is filed every two seconds. With lawyers eagerly lining up to save the world from injustice, it would not only be demeaning to yourself, but rude to these brave men not to sue. The fact that court shows up half of daytime television’s lineup is proof enough that Americans are fascinated with lawsuits. People here are sue-happy, with 'Sue-me' stickers common on their cars. The second most common sticker seen on cars is 'Hit me, I need money'. The flimsiest excuse is enough for them to file a suit, if it promises plenty of money. And it does not cost them anything to go to courts when the attorneys are ready to fight for you for 'No money now--pay if paid'. Lawsuits such as personal injury and wrongful death are becoming a very lucrative business for Americans and their attorneys. In one year alone, plaintiff winners were awarded an estimated $4 billion in damages in civil trials with 442 awarded $i million or above. People are treating lawsuits like some sort of lottery tickets. Many a millionaire's rags to riches story has started in courts, ending with rich awards in compensation. Suing people is awesome. Spilling hot coffee at McDonald's not only made 81-year-old Stella Leibeck a millionaire overnight, but famous too. Stella Awards are named after her. These are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S.

Here are the Stella's for the past year:

Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.

Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.

Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania , was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight days on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish.

Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.

Third place goes to Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.

Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000 plus dental expenses.

This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home from an OU football game, having driven onto the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich.. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the free way, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

Self-indulgence and greed have swept through the nation at lightning speed over the last few decades, making frivolous lawsuits a part of their growing compensation culture that promotes the idea that individuals deserve outrageously large settlements for sometimes ridiculous injuries inflicted upon them, often times from their own actions. People everywhere are coming out to join in the feeding frenzy of draining corporations and small businesses out of much needed funds, making it more economical for large and small businesses to simply grant out-of-court settlements rather then fight frivolous lawsuits in a long, costly court battle that could take years to solve, and millions of dollars. They also bog down the already-overwhelmed legal system and prevent legitimate cases from being addressed promptly. It would be a nice turn of events to see a nation work things out the old fashioned way, and prevent the sue happy people turning lawsuits into lottery tickets.


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