Saturday, January 26, 2008

Amateur Con Artists Filing Clownish Law Suits?

--Frivolous and near-frivolous law suits abound--often referred to as Looney Tunes litigation.

Magalia, California--On today's American court room stage, what is it? Is it spillover from the tax-cheat syndrome, too much studying-up on the exploits of con artists, so-called ambulance-chasing lawyers, or a generally get-rich-quick obsession that simply cannot be denied? Whatever the cause, court dockets are exploding with law suits that many, even a good chunk of the legal community, call frivolous. Here's a cross-section:

The state of California, claiming dry cleaners have polluted the water supply, sues operators retired 30 years or more, and property owners who once, long ago, had a dry cleaning establishment in their buildings.

Obese woman, with a history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, sues her doctor for $1,000,000 because he didn't force her to change her cigarette-smoking habit.

Man sues because of heart attack and diabetes he said he got from eating at McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC. He claims they failed to tell him he shouldn't eat their food several times a week.

Man is hit by lightning in a parking lot. Whose fault? The amusement park, who "should have told people not to go to their cars," according to his lawyer.

A multiple pierced woman is told by her employer she cannot wear her eyebrow rings, lip rings, and other body adornments when she works with the public. She claims religious discrimination and sues for $2,000,000, on the grounds she is a member of the "Church of Body Modification," and is guaranteed "religious rights."

Toy company sues movie studio which exhibits film showing its toy used by adults when only children are supposed to play with this product

Inmate sues prison system for not letting him practice his religion. He claims his religion is that of "Druid Vampire," and he therefore must be allowed sexual access to a "Vampress."

Legal thriller author, Jack Payne, asks,
"Whatever happened to the days of such sensible court actions as charging Al Capone with tax evasion? Today the skilled liability lawyer's arsenal is not only loaded with the old tools--demonstrative pretense of being for motherhood, apple pie and American baseball--but he sprouts many new, magical capabilities as well. With compelling persuasiveness in addressing juries, the trial lawyer is now performing more like the court jester. And these juries, and judges, are buying these ludicrous arguments.

"Indeed, one can only conclude that many of these current-day jury awards, springing from con-artist-like tactics, mimic a stuck ATM pouring out cash."

16 comments:

W. Rashow said...

Woops, got my comment on the wrong page.

Biggest fear I have is, how do I protect myself from such phony, made-up lawsuits?

McAlee said...

I can only conclude that I missed my calling. I should have gone to law school.

Warmer said...

I think the question of primary importance is what do we do to stop this deluge of nonsense law suits? Do the citizens of all democracies of the world have to put up with this crap in their legal systems?

Jack Payne said...

There are things that a civilized nation can do to sharply curtail frivolous law suits, Warmer. One simple step is to do as the U.K. has done, adopt "Loser Pays." Under this rule, the loser must pay the defendant's attorney's fees and court courts for all lost cases, as well as his own. This severely stunts the filing of these jokester suits because of the risk of getting stuck with substantial, extra legal bills.

Don't hold your breath, waiting for this to happen in the good old U.S. of A. though. The Trial Lawyers lobby is so deeply entrenched in the Democratic Party that they have been able to thwart all efforts to make this a part of tort reform here in America over the past 30 years. They will probably be able to continue doing this long into the future.

kab625 said...

Arggh! I guess it went out with the milkman then. I don't know if this was just urban legend, but I remember something about a law suit involving a person who didn't tie their shoelaces then sued because there were no instructions or cautions with the shoes. How sad. Attorneys, at one time, were respectable and didn't ever have to advertise their services, except for a phone book listing.

Jack Payne said...

Kathleen, I think you are right about the phone book listing era. This goes back some 40 years or so when the Supreme Court held that lawyers had every legal right to advertise. It seems that everything has gone downhill, ethics-wise, from this point on.

Kevin Goodman said...

There is something very sad in all this. It only shows that our judicial system is flawed - and how flawed. Jurisprudence, like so many ethics seems to be an idea that is nice to talk about but inapplicable.

sharyn said...

it's the someone has to protect from myself thought. during a recent snow event in my area the bridge was closed with folks putting on their chains, a few days later the town put up a sign saying may be ice. duh. we need to pay attention and focus, then we won't need clownish law suits. be responsible for ourselfs.

McAlee said...

And people wonder, why all the lawyer jokes? If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts, isn't it something like this thinking among lawyers that spawn all the jokes. It's got to be something like this that leads to all these crazy law suits.

Jack Payne said...

The lawyer jokes are getting quite mean-spirited too. This one tells a story about lawyers' standing with the public--no doubt, at least partly as a result of this plethora of frivolous law suits. Question: How do you keep a lawyer from drowning? Answer: Shoot him.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Jack,
I wish we could laugh of these stupid lawsuits, but as you know, they cost all of us. -Mike.

Cyberpunk said...

I lose faith in humanity every time I read something like this. Recently there was a judge who sued a laundry shop for millions because the shop lost the judge's pants. A judge!

Jack Payne said...

Yeah, C.P., the famous case of the judge, his lost pants, and the $50,000,000 law suit. He lost the suit, but succeeded in putting the hard-working immigrant couple who owned the laundry out of business. The staggering legal fees and court costs, needed to defend themselves, were just too much for them.

If we'd had a "Losers pay" law, like in Great Britain, chances are great this zany law suit would never have been filed.

Sue said...

Great articles, great site! I was once told, "why would these type of cases be thrown out?" Baliff's get paid, judges get paid, court officials, lawyers..anyone there, is collecting a check - so why stop the maddness!

I loved the one that a neighbor got sued, because they would not allow their other neighbor to swim in their private pool! Come on!

Tamera said...

Absolutely outrageous. Incredible. I'm speechless.

Marly said...

Great work.