A Culture Named Sue

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Here’s a quiz:

Which one of these two individuals has a legitimate grievance for which to bring a lawsuit: a woman who claims Starbucks puts too much ice in its iced drinks, thereby cheating her of her rightful amount of latte; or a man who spent 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit?

I sincerely hope you picked the latter.

Frivolous lawsuits give conservatives conniptions and make justified suits harder to obtain. When a society is constantly suing for the smallest slight, legislatures start passing “tort reform” laws to limit how much companies and institutions can be sued for.

Stacey Pinkus is suing the ubiquitous coffee chain for $5 million, alleging that there are only 14 ounces of drinkable liquid in a 20-ounce beverage. (nj.com, May 3, 2016) Really, Stacey? Couldn’t you just have asked for less ice and more beverage? Couldn’t you have spoken to a manager? Couldn’t you have come up with my 14-year-old daughter’s solution of ordering the drink with no ice and asking for a cup of ice? (Yes, I’m raising that smart cookie!)

If you think these lawsuits are uncommon, think again. In 2003, a man sued Kraft Foods for putting trans fat in Oreo cookies. Another man sued Anheiser- Busch because his use of their beer did not result in any luck with women, something he claimed was promised in their advertising. Yet another sued a strip club for whiplash when a stripper’s fake breasts hit him. Finally, and I am not making this up, a prison inmate sued himself for getting himself drunk and committing crimes. Since he had no money and was incarcerated, he expected the state to pay him. (Source: “Top Ten Frivolous Lawsuits,” legalzoom.com, Oct, 2009)

These frivolous lawsuits anger me because there are many legitimate grievances out there. People should have a right to sue for wrongful death, fraud, medical malpractice, and other serious breaches of trust. But when people with too much time on their hands who are looking to make a quick buck (or million) bring these kinds of suits to court, it trivializes the process and causes a backlash. And the costs of these lawsuits is ultimately paid by the general public, whether in the form of higher prices or higher taxes.

So let’s take a breath and start finding other ways to handle our minor grievances. And let’s face it. Anyone who is willing to pay 4 bucks for a cup of coffee, iced or otherwise, deserves what she gets.

 

 

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