Frivolous lawsuits have long been to blame for everything from rising healthcare costs to increased lawyer greediness (as if it were possible). Everyone knows about the spilled coffee cases and million-dollar malpractice settlements, but even the smaller, low-profile cases seem to get healthy payouts.
Take, for instance, the Seattle ruling a few months ago in which an elderly woman was awarded $45,000 because her 12-year-old cat got out and was mauled by a neighbor’s dog. She claimed the tragedy made her start smoking cigarettes uncontrollably, so naturally the neighbor’s bank account was emptied to heal her woes.
Almost every other week, I read about a real long-shot lawsuit settled for big bucks. And it’s not just in America. A couple of days ago, an Australian doughnut factory was ordered to pay a woman $360,000 (U.S.) because she cut her pinky trying to assemble a machine without using the instructions. This immediately got me thinking: I could really go for a glazed doughnut right now. No, seriously, it made me determined to jump on the lawsuit bandwagon and sue any person or company that may have inconvenienced me. It helps that I’m a huge klutz. Recently, I fell down a two-step drop while talking on a cell phone, zipping up my backpack and carrying a guitar out of a classroom building. The guitar and phone went flying as I sprawled out on the sidewalk. My face broke my fall in front of roughly 50 people.
Alas, that event became my 64th most embarrassing moment, but it creates a lot of lawsuit possibilities. Should I sue the University, for not posting a big “Watch your step, doofus!” sign? What about filing a public embarrassment claim against the girl who, from 20 feet away, shrieked “Is he all right?!?!” in a piercing, nasally voice. Maybe I should go after the person who helped me off the concrete, because, you know, I was much more comfortable down there and they forced me up (which could have crumpled my spine or something).
This all seems too easy. When I put my mind to it, I can think of limitless lawsuit ideas. I’m guaranteed to win at least one, right?
What about the time I slipped a disc in my back while making my bed? Those lofted bed manufacturers have no idea how hard it is to tuck in sheets to the corners. A few hundred million might shut me up (hint). Then we have the case of me breaking my collarbone while playing Frisbee in front of Coffman Union. That grass is too hard! Plus, the Frisbee company must have made a dud, because I swear that thing should have curved right instead of lofting over my head (forcing me to jump off-balance). The pain and suffering I endured forced me to skip classes, ignore homework and blow all my spending money on ice cream and candy. The horror!
After I jot down the remaining hundred-or-so injury stories, I plan to get myself the most tasteless lawyer in town and go for the gold. Ever hear of those “If we don’t win, you pay nothing” attorneys? I’ve got nothing to lose! So until next time, I’ll be out planting gross things in restaurant chili and falling down wheelchair ramps (staircases might actually hurt). And please be sure to support me in my lawsuit insurrection – otherwise, I might find something you do or say to be lawsuit-worthy.
Ow, my hand! The Daily has my column quota too high Ö I think I got carpal tunnel Ö
Mat Koehler welcomes comments at [email protected]