Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So, Sue Me!

Some random, not-very-well-connected thoughts on law suits.

Imagine you are Roy Kronk (above). You are a blue-collar stiff. You have worked hard all your life. No one ever just walked up and gave you a flippen thing. You scrimped and saved for every thing you’ve got. Except for a lifetime of bad hair days and an unfortunate surname that harkens back to the stone age, you’ve gotten along pretty well with your life.  You've avoided most of the land mines of life by toeing the straight and narrow, by paying your bills, by helping others, by doing the little things that make the world go 'round.

Now imagine you are Roy Kronk just sitting down at the breakfast table. For an old guy who looks like Ralph Kramden, you have awakened this fine morning feeling pretty chipper. You pour yourself a cup of coffee, you open your newspaper, you read the comics, you check the names in the obits, you scan the local headlines, you see that the same 85-year-old woman who drove her car through the wall of the local post office last month did so again this month, you buzz over the national headlines, you read that you have been accused of not only murdering someone’s child, but of “inappropriate behavior” with your own kids. . . . Say what? You read it again. It’s true. There it is. Your face! Your name! You have been accused of hideous crimes. My guess is that reading such “news” would not only spoil your cup of coffee, but ruin your morning, your day, your week, your year, your life.

Well, such were the headlines Roy read one day. Roy Kronk was the Florida meter reader who stumbled upon the remains of little Caylee Anthony. Thus was Roy involuntarily dragged into the whole sordid mess that became the Casey Anthony-Circus-Come-To-Town-Midway-Carnival-Geek-And-Freak-Side Show trial. Now, on a world stage, poor Roy Kronk was being dragged back into that morass when he was accused by that scurrilous, sensation-seeking rag, the National Inquirer, of not only murdering Caylee Anthony, but of sexually abusing his own children.

At this point, Roy Kronk could do one of three things: A) He could ignore the baseless charge and try to get along with his life, knowing full well that this meant he would become a marked man for the rest of his existence. B) He could allow his growing rage to run riot by grabbing a shotgun, hunting down the vile creature who would write such things, then terminate his miserable existence in one flash-boom of vengeance. C) He could do the modern, civilized thing (which means, the sissy thing) and file a multimillion dollar law suit.

Roy, of course, is opting for plan C and I do hope this gentleman is awarded a bazillion dollars.

In the old days, back in the Wild West, much such similar slander was dealt with very quickly. Some offensive rascals were called into the street and flogged within an inch of their life by an aggrieved man or woman wielding a cowhide. Some slanderers did not get off that easy and sundown found them fertilizing weeds on Boot Hill. So, perhaps, it is indeed more civilized today--if less satisfying--to sue someone rather than blow their damned heads off at the shoulders or cut them in half with a chain saw.

Law suits. . . . Who of us has not seen those scenes caught on tape of those who try to stage an accident in hopes of wringing money from some store? I recall one overweight woman in a grocery store (where else?) who slyly scoped both sides of the aisle before she deliberately spilled some vegetable oil on the floor.  The "victim" then proceeded to fall ever so slowly and carefully to the ground. Once she was wallowing in her place she really let the thespian out of the bottle; from her screams and groans one might have thought the unfortunate lady would be a cripple for life. Customers ran over to help the poor thing. "And to think," the rescuers thought, "all because of the beastly negligence of the store!" Thank heaven for the video tape. Though I hope the wanna-be thief got nothing for her disgusting efforts, I do hope that she was given a month or more in jail. She deserved it.

Law suits. . . . Unless one counts trying to make a dead-beat renter pay up in court, I have never sued anyone in my sumpin-sumpin years on this blue rock. Certainly, there were multiple ops in my life for such legal monkey business but, no matter how remiss in other capacities I may have been in my past, suing people to get something for nothing is not in my genetic makeup.

Law suits. . . . I personally believe that we are responsible for roughly 99% of all bad things that happen to us. Joining a class-action law suit against big tobacco because they gave you lung cancer? Did they put a gun to your head forcing you to suck that coffin nail when you already damn well knew it was horrible for your health? Suing a hamburger chain because you have grown so large from eating their greasy food that you cannot fit in their seats any more? Poor fellow. Those fat-hating meanies must be compelled to place more distance between their tables and chairs—say three feet more--to make room for that sofa growing from what used to be your lap.

Law suits. . . . If I am sauntering along a sidewalk, gazing up at a flying pig, and I then proceed to tumble head first into a hole, is it the pig’s fault? Is it the sidewalk’s fault? No and No, it is my own fault for not paying attention, regardless of whether the city had “adequate” warning signs there, or any signs at all, for that matter. If a waitress gives me a hot cup of coffee and I mismanage that cup so as to spill what feels like molten mercury on my leg, it’s not the waitresses fault, not the cup’s fault, not the restaurant’s fault--it’s my own damn fault for not being more careful. For the most part, this approach is how I deal with every mishap I encounter in life. And yes, should some old coot proceed to run me over on this narrow island road, in my opinion it is not their fault; I knew the risks of riding on a dangerous, twisty road filled with senile drivers and I willingly accepted those risks. And so on. It goes without saying that the legal profession would shut down overnight were everyone like me.

Is there ever a time to sue? Speaking for myself, perhaps. Speaking for Roy Kronk? You go, Roy!


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