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New Years resolution: No more nutty lawsuits

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Bill Summers

President

Rio Grande Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

The holiday season and the New Year bring out the best of intentions: promises of good behavior, commitments to kick nasty habits and pledges to be more nice than naughty.

As we ready our lists and resolutions, a peek into our nation’s courtrooms can serve as a guide for how not to behave.

The folks described here have turned finger pointing, foot stomping and fraud into an art form with some earning big points for civil justice creativity.

Topping our list of laughable lawsuits is a story of shampoo shenanigans.

A Connecticut woman sued L’Oreal Inc., alleging the company ruined her social life when she accidentally dyed her blonde locks brunette with one of its products.

The woman said she can never return to her natural color, which has left her so traumatized she needed anti-depressants, had to stay home and wear hats most of the time.

The list continues with a tale of a thong gone wrong.

A California woman is suing Victoria’s Secret after a piece of her rhinestone-decorated undergarment, described as "slingshot-like," was launched into her eye.

(We don’t even want to know how that happened.)

Despite having only received minimal medical attention the morning after the incident, the plaintiff insisted on airing her "saucy" laundry in court.

Turning our attention from underwear to outerwear, a sitting judge in Washington, DC sued his dry cleaners for $54 million over a lost pair of pants, alleging their "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign was a fraud.

After two years of battle, the owners of the dry cleaning business won the case.

But sadly, the financial and emotional cost of the lawsuit forced the family to close one of their stores. With his pants still in a knot, the judge is appealing the verdict.

Fifty-four million was the magic number in another lawsuit that even the plaintiff says is unreasonable.

After a Best Buy store purportedly lost a Washington, D.C. woman’s laptop, she lost her mind and demanded 54 million bucks.

Apparently the retailer’s apology, reimbursement for the cost of the computer and a $900 gift card wasn’t enough. The woman figured suing Best Buy was her best bet.

Speaking of betting, a Texas businessman took a gamble by allegedly practicing law without a license.

This naughty non-lawyer ended up with a handful of lawsuits against him and a grand jury indictment on felony charges of perjury, theft, falsely holding himself out as a lawyer and impersonating a public servant.

He’s also been sued by a committee of the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Attorney General.

Apparently, the house always wins…in this case, it may be the Big House.

Proving that some people will go to great lengths to avoid personal responsibility, our next two wacky litigants take the prize for finger pointing.

After deciding to entertain fellow bar flies by dancing on the bar, a Chicago woman took a spill and sued the bar for failing to warn patrons about the slippery surfaces or provide handrails, "cushioned flooring" or "safety nets."

Next thing you know, our brews will be served with pretzels, peanuts…and helmets.

In more "protect me from myself" news, a Kentucky woman died after a venomous rattlesnake bit her on the cheek while she was handling it at her church. Even though snake handling is illegal in Kentucky, her family says it’s the local hospital’s fault she died. Who knew venomous rattlesnakes were deadly?

While we may shake our collective head at these ridiculous cases, there’s nothing funny about the cost lawsuit abuse.

The U.S. tort system cost Americans $252 billion in 2007 or the equivalent of $835 for every man, woman and child in our country.

In fact, lawsuit abuse drives up consumer prices, hurts businesses and costs jobs – a reality we can hardly afford these days.

Ridiculous lawsuits clog up the already overloaded court dockets across the country and delay or dilute justice for the truly injured.

Consider how many truly injured citizens saw their day in court put off while judges were forced to contend with foolish cases.

This holiday we should make a wish that lawsuit happy people will turn over a new leaf in the New Year.

Maybe they’ll realize every dilemma or personal disappointment is not fodder for a lawsuit and does not warrant a treasure trove of cash.

That’s a New Year’s resolution worth making.

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse is a nonprofit, grassroots movement dedicated to making the public better aware of the cost and consequences of lawsuit abuse. With local chapters across the state, CALA counts count more than 25,000 supporters among its ranks.


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