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What Could You Have Sued Over? (a darkly amusing post)

This post is inspired by BeThisWay of Just Shoot Me Now’s post about when and why you should consider an umbrella insurance policy. I’d recommend that post for a serious treatment of the subject. What I’m doing here is more about humor…

After reading the piece, I realized that there’s at least on occasion where I could have sued a major company and won. At least, if juries are screwed up enough that they’ll award money to a woman bitten in the park across from an apartment complex who was suing the complex…these would be a cinch.

The first is a skiing accident I mentioned earlier. My mom reminded me that my linguistic neural processors have never been the same. Before the accident, I was spelling bee material. Afterwards, I was competent but not noteworthy. I suffer from some dyslexia and letter confusion. Right after, I had a really tough time reading and writing, but that got much better.

However I bet I could make a decent case for brain damage. Maybe I could even get compensation for not having won the national spelling bee. I never entered before or after, but why not try for that too?

The other time I could have sued (maybe) was around the same time when I was rehearsing for the Nutcracker with an old parasol the studio provided (Chinese variation in the 2nd act). They didn’t want us hurting the nice newer ones, but the old ones didn’t always want to stay up.

It collapsed and cut me about 1/32nd of an inch from the left tear duct. I still remember it vividly—blood filled my eye and I ran to the lobby (I don’t know why, maybe me dad was there?) and one of the moms was a nurse and helped me. Dad was livid. If it had actually cut the tear duct or the eye, I think he might have sued….or at that moment he would have wanted to. Faulty equipment, potentially permanent damage, crying 13-year-old.

However in the first case we didn’t even think of suing. As I mentioned on BeThisWay’s post, I was skiing after all. Snow, ice, fast speeds, I knew what I was getting into. In the second my dad mentioned something about it, but even then since there was no permanent damage/medical bills/etc, we didn’t consider it.

So now it’s your turn, those of you who are amused/shocked/offended by crazy lawsuits. I’m curious: What could you have sued over? Do you have a story which you think could have made a ridiculous lawsuit? Maybe you could sue your daughter’s classmate for not inviting you to her party? Sue a store for your child falling…because his brother tripped him?
What can you come up with?

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The Penny Saved Personal Finance Site » Blog Archive » Site Fixed and my favorite articles of the week
February 23, 2008 at 1:28 pm
The Penny Saved Personal Finance Site » Blog Archive » Site Fixed and my favorite articles of the week
February 23, 2008 at 1:28 pm
Feeling the Link Love, and More Carnival Fun « Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You?
February 25, 2008 at 10:05 pm


Lynnae @ Being February 18, 2008 at 9:11 pm

I could sue my accountant for giving me bad tax advice!

BeThisWay February 18, 2008 at 9:24 pm

I’d like to sue G-d for not giving me better metabolism.

SJean February 18, 2008 at 9:33 pm

I wonder if ski places make you sign wavers. I vaugely remember that.

I can’t think of anything! Booo.

mrsmicah February 18, 2008 at 9:49 pm

SJean, I’m sure I signed a waiver. However people periodically sue even after signing a waiver. And win.

Ron@TheWisdomJournal February 18, 2008 at 10:51 pm

The state laws in most skiing states prevent anyone from suing another skier except for gross negligence, and I’m pretty certain you would find it next to impossible to sue the resort itself. Those resorts are cash cows and the legislatures make sure they’re protected.

Ryan [email protected] February 18, 2008 at 11:34 pm

A lot of times I think I can sue my employer for mental anguish…

Looby February 19, 2008 at 1:05 am

Ooh, I could be rich by now! I broke my thumb on my neighbour’s slide (to be fair I was babysitting and probably shouldn’t have been playing!), I broke my other thumb playing hockey at school and was made to keep playing for another 10 minutes until I gave up and walked off crying (a bit of mental anguish in there I’d say!) I also broke my nose tripping in my parent’s driveway, but they would probably have cut back on the Christmas and birthday presents if I had sued! This is amusing but the “be this way” post really annoyed me, people are getting far too litigious.

Funny about Money February 19, 2008 at 1:31 am

The trouble is, the story you get from the press isn’t the whole story. Juries and judges don’t make awards for the fun of it, as anyone who has been called for jury duty knows. In general, suits that are obviously frivolous get thrown out long before they go to trial.

The infamous hot-coffee-in-the-lap story entailed a liquid that was extremely hot — much hotter than is allowed in restaurant practice — and when the coffee spilled over the person’s genitals, it caused severe burns and permanent damage. The lawsuit was not frivolous and the person was well justified in suing.

Looby February 19, 2008 at 2:02 am

@ funny about money- I’m not sure I agree- looking briefly into that case, it is noted that even if the coffee had been cooler it would still have caused the burns. A similar case was rejected in the UK, where, in general, people are less receptive to suing over these sort of things. An old teacher of mine had nearly boiling water poured in her lap on an airplane, she spent 3 months in hospital and didn’t consider suing- because it was an accident.

her every cent counts February 19, 2008 at 2:26 am

My parents did sue… when I broke my arm at my 6th grade gymnastics birthday party. And we won. Did I deserve to win? Maybe. I’m not sure. But now I’m $15,000 richer because of it.

frugal zeitgeist February 19, 2008 at 7:46 am

An untreated bladder infection that developed into a kidney infection. The doctor worked one day a week at that office. He refused to prescribe any medication until my test results came back and he saw me in person, and the office wouldn’t book an appointment with anyone else in his practice. I ended up on Cipro (nasty stuff) for a month.

When I found a new doctor, the office refused to release my records without a signed waiver stating that I wouldn’t sue them. I refused to sign and never got my my records.

Becky@FamilyandFinances February 19, 2008 at 10:20 am

I hurt my back once while playing on my parents’ trampoline as an adult. I wouldn’t be surprised if I could have tried to sue my parents. I had my own health insurance and the insurance company sent me a form asking about the accident. I told them it was my trampoline so that they wouldn’t have anybody to try to go after for the chiropractor bills.

Jesse February 19, 2008 at 1:55 pm

I have a really good one. I was playing football with some guys (I knew 1 or 2 of them) and one of them became very frustrated and blindsided me with a knee. It turns out it injured me pretty seriously (I went into shock)…I had to go to the hospital, have ultrasounds, visit a specialist….and I couldnt get off the couch for 2 weeks. Plus there might still be long term damage (it doesnt affect every day life currently). I also at that point had no health insurance. Ouch. I probably should have sued…but never did.

Mercedes February 19, 2008 at 3:41 pm

My father in law is a lawyer so not having umbrella policy was never an option for my husband. Especially in our old house where we had a pool. But even now without the pool we still have it. Even though with the way people sue this day it wouldn’t be enough anyways.

Aryn February 19, 2008 at 4:36 pm

When my sister was little, she fell off a jungle gym and spent several weeks in the hospital. She fell in a friend’s backyard and we had very good insurance, so her total surgeries and hospital stay cost us around $20. Because she was so young, she regained full use of her arm. They actually saved her hand.

Nevertheless, a lawyer suggested we sue our friends because it happened in their yard. He tried to convince my parents that our friends’ homeowners policy would cover it. We definitely didn’t sue for that.

Mark @ TheLocoMono February 19, 2008 at 9:45 pm

I used to work at a ski resort in Utah and to the best of my recollection the ticket booth people told me that when you purchase a ski ticket, you literally are signing a waiver for any injury that could have been prevented under reasonable circumstances. I don’t remember what these circumstances are but you are basically stating that you can ski at your own risk within the boundaries of the ski resort, doesn’t matter if you are a beginner on a double black diamond or an expert on a bunny slope.

As for yours truly, on a Saturday afternoon, while my brother was helping put away the gymnastic mats and my dad was talking to the coach, I had the greatest thrill of walking around without supervision at 5 years old and decided I could reach for the lower bar on the double vaults.

Sadly I missed and cracked my skull on the metal supports on the floor that supports the double vaults just right after they happened to put the mats away.

Should I have sued my dad for letting me loose or my brother for putting the mats away or the coach for not telling my dad to watch me or the school for having such a program in place without supervision or the town for having such a school with such a program?

Ahh, who cares. I got a cool scar to tell about now. Makes me look like a movie star and that is priceless.

Funny about Money February 21, 2008 at 12:12 am

@ Looby– Yes, it does seem to be true that Americans are more sue-happy than people in many other countries. We also seem to be lots more scared of the bogey-man and of other people’s stupidity.

Last time I was in Canada — admittedly, a few years back — I was delighted to discover that food and drink containers were not double- and triple-sealed with layers of plastic made to deflect deranged poisoners, and OTC meds, cleansers, and whatnot were not tightly capped with adult-proof lids. Canadians consumers evidently are assumed have enough sense to take care of themselves…or if they don’t, they deserve what they get, I guess. A lot of the over-packaging we deal with is stuff designed to protect us from ourselves, on the assumption that if our self-destructive impulses aren’t curbed, we’ll sue. 🙂

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