Mad Lawsuits (Split From Sci-Fi Thread)...

KB, Northern lights is already a trademarked, copywriten, blah blah blah name here.

And yes, Americans are that stupid as a general rule. I know. I am one. I was just threatened with a law suite when someone hurt themselves BREAKING INTO my wife’s business. As in the person illegally taking our stuff, AKA the thief, threatened to sue because he fell. While I managed to bully my way out if the suite by threatening to press additional this type of stupidity is common. We are the people who put warning labels like Warning -- Avoid death on a tractor. Hell put that one on the mirror, it is good advice.

PJS - yes, I’m interested to see what will happen there, too. I’m pretty sure they are planning on making the whole trilogy (it will be interesting to see who they get to play Will). But they have a tough choice with the others, especially the Amber Spyglass: either they completely butcher the book or they end up provoking the extreme Christian right into all-out war (which might be quite apt, come to think of it… :slight_smile: ). It’s not as big a problem here as it is in the US, but even here we have those who hate Pullman for corrupting young minds with his atheist ideas.

Jaysen - I didn’t realise about the copyright thing (although other films and books and TV series get released with the same names). My rant still stands, though. :slight_smile: And crikey - are you serious about the lawsuit? I heard about a similar lawsuit some time ago, but thought it was just an urban myth. That’s insane. Though to be honest, I think things aren’t going the same here, too. When I was in the US ten years ago, I watched the ambulance-chaser adverts with bewilderment, using the popular exclamation (which is not used much any more, for obvious reasons): “Only in America!” Within five years, we had the same adverts. Everywhere. And recently, someone I know was telling me that her friend had been on holiday, chased her toddler along a pebble drive, slipped on the pebbles and broken her ankle. She’s now suing the owners of the rented cottage in which they were staying for an unsafe drive. They were pebbles and you slipped for flippin’eck’s sake! Should I be suing London Buses because I was drunk and stupid enough to walk into the side of a moving one a few years ago, leaving me with a permanent Harry Potter scar on my forehead? I mean, okay, it was large, red and it was me who stepped off the kerb into the side of it, but hey, having big moving things in areas that are in use by people is, y’know, dangerous… Grrr.

See, I really do want to go on Grumpy Old Men after all.


Not a good idea. We “right wingers” still control many things. While I disagree with the conclusions Pullman draws it is his right and the right of every person to have opinions.

Regrettably not all my peers are sane. They will put us back in the dark ages quicker than a politician will lie about taxes.

Yes. The judge was very apologetic and indicated that had the plaintiff not withdrawn I would have needed legal representation and probably would have lost. NY has upheld the rights of criminals more than the rights of law abiding citizens. God bless America!

Yes, and you would win. My wife and I have contemplated leaving the country. At least then we could look at the stupidity around us and claim that were were aliens.

Maybe vic-k should try that too. The 2 of us might convince the rest of the world that there is life on other planets. Heck no one on earth seems to wants to claim responsibility for us. It would work as long as we leave don’t make claims of intelligence.

That… is… beyond words. Beyond insanity. So, to get this right: you should ensure that there is nothing that could possibly cause distress or damage to a person illegally entering your property? You should make sure there is nothing they can trip over in the dark? Or, to take it a step further, maybe you should get rid of the windows in case their breakage causes the burglars any harm - glass is pointy when broken (perhaps if you put a sticker on the glass saying that, you would be less likely to lose such a case?). What I don’t get… If some completely evil a*hole (which anybody who breaks in somewhere and then files a lawsuit must be by definition) brings such a lawsuit, surely they have a) admitted to breaking into a property and thus breaking the law and b) given their name and address to the authorities. I take it this person is in jail, otherwise he or she would not have been stupid enough to give such details to the authorities, right?


This, along with what Wock says (I liked Leon, too, Wock - it was indeed Leon here), brings us sort of full-circle, back to my love for the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I am reminded (again) of Wonko the Sane from So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, who, upon finding that toothpicks came with instructions (“Hold stick near centre of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.”), turned his house inside out and declared that everything outside his house was “the asylum” and only by going into his house could you get outside of the asylum. Quite.


There are actually dinner restaurants revoking their liquor licences where I live, because the state recently passed a law making it so this chain of events are now possible:

I can be walking home in the night, get hit by a drunk driver bad enough to be seriously injured, and then turn around and sue the restaurant that served him or her alcohol that night! And I would win—a lot of money depending on how severe the accident was. The establishment serving alcohol is responsible for the idiots that drive tanked at the end of the night.

Consequently, the insurance companies have put the cost of owning a liquor licence through the roof, and many small restaurants can no longer to afford to sell a glass of wine with their pasta.

I’m sure there are two words that are relevant here: Personal ru… No, Personal re… res… respon… respindibitly? No, it’s gone. Probably overrated, anyway…

Let’s not go overboard on the frivolous lawsuits thing. Yes, there have been a few nutty cases, but these are vastly outnumbered by the ones that are immediately dismissed (with court costs often borne by those bringing such cases) or otherwise found legally insufficient. Anyone can file a lawsuit, but few of these actually win or even make it to trial. (And when they do, there often turn out to be circumstances not revealed in the short press accounts.)

Remember, in the US, lawyers who take these cases only get paid if they win, so there’s every incentive to avoid bringing unwarranted cases. However, big business types and their acolytes, in order to undermine the small-firm lawyers who are often the only ones standing between legitimately injured victims of corporate malfeasance (e.g. products that the manufacturers know are dangerous yet put out anyway, figuring the costs of lawsuits and settlements will be cheaper), love to pull out a few of these anecdotes and contrive a crisis that doesn’t exist. They learned the Reagan/Limbaugh/Fox News trick of blowing up a few anecdotes into a fake trend that can then be widely distributed by the big corporations that control most of our media outlets, then be righteously denounced by pandering politicos, or used to persuade legislatures and juries to deny legitimate access to the courts from people who really deserve it.

In America, we do have trial by jury in many of these cases, and juries, being made up of people, can make mistakes, but I’d still rather take my chances in front of my peers rather than having corporate-dominated government decide who gets to go to court every time.

It’s always easy to find a few bad examples, and definitely some abuses exist, but please don’t think the entire American judicial system is plagued with such incidents that actually result in damages paid or big settlements, because when you look at the numbers, it just ain’t so. Plenty of wealthy interests are happy to do everything they can to make us think so, however.

There is one quote I find makes me ponder the judicial system sometimes.

“We are judged by our peers (jury). Fifteen people too stupid to get out of Jury duty.”

Here is some humorous attempts at suing for the stupid. My favorite is the one guy who sued himself and the whiplash event at the strip club


[code]In September 1988, two Akron, Ohio-based carpet layers named Gordon Falker and Gregory Roach were severely burned when a three and a half gallon container of carpet adhesive ignited when the hot water heater it was sitting next to kicked on. Both men felt the warning label on the back of the can was insufficient. Words like “flammableâ€

Hey! I did jury service last year! (In all fairness I put it off a year but had to do it last year otherwise you get fined…) And it was bloody horrible, too. They could at least have given me the Old Bailey, but, oh no, I get Croydon bloody County Court - two weeks sitting in a new-build with no windows. Thank you very much.

I clipped most of it out to make it shorter. In NY these cases are civil. A civil case is simple majority. As in 7 out of 12. The criminal neatly always wins if it goes to trial.

In my case a guy climbs a storage bin in a fenced area to climb through a closed window. Halfway in the bin collapses and the window falls on his back. Disc problems ensue. The guy is a hard case, kids, no work, etc. We had fed him for free a few times (business is an outside restaurant). the damage to our place (he trashed it) is about $5.5K. Because of his circumstances and the fact that insurance covered most of this we did not want to file felony “grand larceny” charges opting for a “creating a disturbance” misdemeanor. We were never called to court and he pleads guilty.

4 months later he is in trouble because of his back. Tells folks a window fell at a business and he told to contact a lawyer. Lawyer is informed of the whole thing and OK’s the suite. We filled for dismissal (he already acknowledged that he was breaking and entering). I contact lawyer and DA to find out that I am liable to loose (the plaintiff lawyer apparently does this often and folks just settle). DA indicates that I can still file those felony charges as there was not plea deal and the charges are completely different. I contact plaintiff and let them know what my options are and he sees the light of day since he is trying to get a commercial drivers license (felony would be a problem not to mention the time in jail).

Now common sense would say that this is a joke. It isn’t. I got lucky that this guy backed down. Regretfully this type of thing is a bit more common in NY than other areas of the nation. I have to assume that most settle, but the judge indicated that I got lucky.

Whoa! How did we digress from sticking up for sci fi as a wholly legitimate art form to bashing “frivolous” lawsuits? Oh, yes, I forgot: The uncommon nature of common sense.

Actually, the survival of common sense or even intelligence (they aren’t synonymous) makes for an interesting sci fi theme. Some of the studies being reported about literacy and brain development, for example, could easily be mined for golden material.

But I am sorry to hear of the problems in New York. Move to Ohio - our legislature and courts have been so heavily influenced by big business interests of late that someone can be catastrophically injured by a horrifically dangerous product made by a company that knew of its dangers, didn’t care, and sold it anyway, and the plaintiff won’t be able to recover anything for their pain & suffering. Forget about the burglar injured in the burglary - in Ohio, he’s told to be glad he’s alive!

Cut the “coffee lady” a little slack, though: 1) the elderly woman involved knew that the coffee was hot, but didn’t expect it to be hot enough to cause instantaneous third-degree burns; 2) the coffee was served to her in a “cold cup” designed to hold cold liquid, not hot liquid; 3) the company’s coffee makers were set to dispense coffee at a temperature that will cause instant second- or third-degree burns on contact (depending upon the age of the victim), chain-wide; 4) the company had already received hundreds of claims for second- and third-degree burns from their coffee, chain-wide; 5) the coffee served to this particular lady was so hot that it caused her polyester sweatpants to melt and adhere to her skin, requiring surgery; 6) because elderly people’s skin is more susceptible to burns than that of younger people, the woman suffered third-degree burns to her legs, upper thighs, crotch and genitalia, requiring surgery and skin grafts; 7) all the woman really wanted was for her medical bills to be paid, and she only sued after the restaurant chain refused to even talk to her about it; 8) after the jurors - thoroughly disgusted by the callous attitude the restaurant displayed to its customers and this injured woman - whacked the company with what are called punitive damages to punish the company, the judge reduced the amount to (guess what?) the woman’s medical bills.

I thought the case was stupid, too, until I found out that stuff. Now, I feel pretty patronized by the restaurant every time I see “Caution: Hot” on the side of their coffee cups.

sorry about the smiley - that was supposed to be a number 8.

Um, do you have a reference for that particular detail? The melting point of polyester fiber is about 250C, more than double the boiling point of water. You can make steam that hot under pressure, but then you would have steam, not a condensed fluid. Moreover, liquid that hot served in a cold cup (a) would have melted the cup first (if plastic), and (b) would have been impossible for restaurant staff to handle without protective gloves or third-degree burns of their own.

I also question whether you could even achieve such high temperatures with the equipment in most restaurants. The maximum steam temperature for most espresso machines is about 125C. Ovens and fryers get hotter, but aren’t really convenient for making coffee.


Funny, I was just reading a review of Michael Moore’s film (out on DVD), Sicko. It hadn’t occurred to me, but it makes sense now that you mention about the medical bills, that there is probably a very significant correlation between the fact that you don’t have free medical care in the US and the number of lawsuits filed for injuries in cases where it is obviously the person’s own fault. If I had had to pay to have my forehead and face stitched back together and for a night in hospital after I walked into a bus, then I might have tried to sue and claim that the bus wasn’t obvious enough or something equally as ludicrous.

Hmm, you are right that this topic has gone waaay off track! Perhaps we should indeed return to the sci-fi theme…


In The Future, Everyone Will Sue.

:laughing: :laughing:

I got the information second-hand, but part of the evidence that came out in her case was that her sweatpants melted to her skin. Whether they were really polyester is a different question; I assumed they were because they were of a synthetic fiber. The medical testimony was that the stuff had to be surgically excised, she suffered third-degree burns that were worsened because the sweatpants held the hot liquid to her skin longer than if her legs had been bare, and she had to have skin grafts. The waxy “cold cup” collapsing was part of the reason the coffee spilled in the first place, and there was testimony that the restaurant chain routinely served the coffee at a temperature close to the boiling point, a temp. known to cause burns. The reason was that if the coffee was served that hot, it would taste better when it cooled to the point where it could be safely consumed.

I’m sorry I brought it up - this should be an entirely different thread.

I’ve split the SF thread into several different threads seeing as it was getting long and very eclectic. I hope no one takes offence at this - the thread was interesting and I went just as off-topic as everyone else (hmm, I may have even started the off-topicness :blush: ) so please don’t take this as over-zealous moderating. I’m just trying to tidy it up so that newcomers can find relevant information in the appropriate forums, and also make it so that we can all continue the various strands of discussion without having to worry about going off-topic.

If you feel I’ve placed any of your posts in the wrong topic (it was difficult deciding what should go where so I just went for a best-fit), let me know and I’ll move it to where you think it belongs.

All the best,

Thanks! It’s an appropriate move!

BTW, here’s some interesting facts about the alleged frivolous lawsuit “problem” in the US - it’s mostly businesses that are the culprits, according to Public Citizen:

The smart lawyers avoid this stuff like the plague. I can’t tell you how many idiots I turn away on a regular basis! At least I get to escape into whatever I’m writing or reading when I leave the office.