Are American’s Sue Happy?

Best warning label ever.

Best warning label ever. (Photo credit: schwa23)

America, the land of opportunity and frivolous lawsuits, right?  It sure does seem that way sometimes.  I know every time I look at a Dunkin Donuts coffee cup and see the “Caution contents may be hot” warning it kind of gives me a chuckle.  Partially because it reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer sues because his coffee was too hot and partially because I know people have sued because they have been burned by their coffee.

It’s things like that where I say yes that’s a little frivolous.  I mean okay you got burned by your coffee, but really unless you had ordered ice coffee don’t you expect it to be hot?  The steam coming from the cup wasn’t a warning for you?  And honestly who amongst us hasn’t burned their tongue on a hot beverage?  I don’t even drink coffee, but I have burnt my mouth before on hot chocolate.  It’s a nuisance, but really it’s no ones fault, but my own for being too anxious to get that warm goodness inside of me.

And it’s not just coffee or hot beverages.  There seem to be common sense warnings on just about everything.  Which leads me to believe either someone was stupid enough to try blow drying their hair while standing in a tub full of water or some legal team was just trying to come up with every possible warning to protect a company against a lawsuit.  It really can get kind of ridiculous.

And last week when a lawsuit was filed on behalf of one of the Sandy Hook survivors there was a lot of anger being thrown around towards the parents.  The thing is, I don’t think we can say this is frivolous and we really should expect more lawsuits.

Sandy Hook Lawsuits

While this particular lawsuit which was filed on behalf of a little girl who attended Sandy Hook Elementary school was filed against the state of CT and has since been withdrawn I can see why it was done.  I don’t entirely understand why against the state of CT and the amount of $100 million sure does seem to be pulled out of left field and far too soon to even access damages, but I get the idea behind the lawsuit.

I’m sure the distraught parents went to a personal injury attorney who saw a chance to make a name for himself in this high profile case and thought to act big and act fast and didn’t think the whole thing through.  Maybe it seemed like the state was the best chance of getting such a large sum of money.  The attorney thought better of it though.  Will he file again?  Who knows.  I think it’s very possible and I think there will be more and I think it’s perfectly understandable.

There Were Extensive Damages Which Came Out Of This

Every single person in that school on that day has the potential to have some serious trauma stemming from this.  Even the parents do.  Not just the families who actually lost someone.  While I’m sure these parents are grateful to have their child alive I can only imagine the state of mind that child and all of those children are left with.

Think about it people.  Those of us who were left to watch all of this unfold have all had some form of fear which has stemmed from this.  I kept my children home from school the Monday after December 14, 2012.  Of course I had every intention of sending them until the night before when I found out a threat was made against one of our schools.  That just did not sit well with me.  When I did send them back to school there was a moment just before my son got on the school bus where he waved and said, “I love you Mom!” that I almost grabbed him and his sister and kept them home another day.  Because something like this I never could have dreamed would have happened, but it did and what if it happened again?  What if it happened to MY children?

If I was feeling that kind of nervousness can you imagine the parents who were sending their kids back to school after living through that?  Could you imagine living through that?  So ummm yes, there are damages.  And people deserve to be made whole.  There will be counseling expenses which arise out of all of this.  Parents could end up with lost wages because their child is too fearful to leave their side.

All 400+ students and faculty plus the 1st responders to that school and the families of these people have the potential to experience some sort of PTSD from this whole ordeal.  And they shouldn’t have to bear that burden alone.

Lawsuits Do Have Their Place

When we get into a car accident we expect the party who was in the wrong to pay for it.  Sometimes it’s very cut and dry who’s at fault, sometimes not so much.  And sometimes the person at fault ends up dying.  But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some sort of payout.  Of course it’s usually dealt with by an insurance company.  Assuming the person at fault was insured.

But what do you do when there’s no insurance or the insurance is dragging their feet?  Well, you get a lawyer.  It’s not always about getting rich.  Because really no one gets rich from lawsuits.  There are always more expenses than what the lawsuit actually covers.  Therapy lasts longer than expected.  You can’t be put back to the same as you were before with that money, but it sure goes a long way to helping you get back to a normal life.

So in the case of the families of Sandy Hook I am not at all surprised that there would be lawsuits.  It’s going to be a matter of finding the right party to sue.  The Lanza family?  The state of CT?  The town of Newtown?  The press?  It’s hard to say.  All might have some form of culpability in this case.  Some might have the protection of the law.

Looking back at some of the most recent and notable massacres in our history, the movie theater this summer and Columbine almost 14 years ago there have all been lawsuits filed in those cases.  No one was shocked or dismayed when those lawsuits were filed.  Perhaps it is because we are only 3 weeks out of the incident.  It’s far too soon to assess damages.  Perhaps it’s because of the size of the lawsuit which was filed.  Or maybe it was because of the far stretch that was made in the lawsuit that the state of CT could have prevented this in someway.  Whatever the case may be the families of the surviving children do have a legitimate reason to seek some compensation in this.  Whether it’s from the state of CT for 100 million dollars or not, the filing of these lawsuits is to be expected and not the frivolousness of say a lawsuit being brought against a coffee shop for selling hot coffee.

There are real damages here and there was an expectation of safety.  Part of the reason so many are mortified by this is none of us expect to send our children off to school, in an elementary school none the less, and have them get shot or shot at.

This is far from your typical American frivolous lawsuit.

What are your thoughts on a family from the Sandy Hook massacre filing a lawsuit?

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  1. I think there is a lot of entitlement to the parents of Sandy Hook, for sure. The loss they’ve experienced is greater than most of us will ever know.

    I have to say that I loved this line: “I mean okay you got burned by your coffee, but really unless you had ordered ice coffee don’t you expect it to be hot?”
    It truly made me LOL!!

    Stopping by from SITS! Have a great day!

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