I am beginning to think we live in a nation divided not between liberals and conservatives, or Christians and Atheists, or citizens and non-citizens. No – we live in a nation divided between plaintiffs and defendants. Every time I read the news, there is yet another story about another lawsuit. Mind you, some of those lawsuits are perfectly justified. When one is wronged, one has the right to seek redress. Then again, some lawsuits defy the imagination.
You Snooze, You... Sue?
Consider the case of Ginger McGuire, who nodded off during a flight to Philadelphia. According to an article at the Washington Times website:
A Michigan woman who fell asleep on a United Express flight to Philadelphia says she woke up and was shocked to find she was alone on the plane.
Ginger McGuire said no one had awakened her when the plane landed more than three hours earlier. She said she paced the aisle for about 15 minutes early Tuesday until the locked door opened and police demanded identification.
So, Ms McGuire slept on the plane for 3 hours after it landed, and was then somehow traumatized by being stuck on the plane for the fifteen minutes she was awake.
Now friends, I would heartily agree that someone in the flight crew should have waked her. Let's be honest here: Passengers are freight. When you take a bus, train or plane you are a commodity being transported from Point A to Point B. When I deliver a load of freight (I'm a trucker, for those of you who didn't already know), it's part of my job to check the trailer to be certain it's empty. How hard is it for a flight attendant to just walk down the aisle and make sure no one is happily snoozing away in one of those (ahem) ultra-comfy airline seats?
So yes, this was worthy of a complaint. Apologize, give Ginger a free flight to the destination of her choice and forget about it, right? Wrong. Here's another tidbit from the Times article:
McGuire's attorney, Geoffrey Feiger, said his law firm filed a lawsuit against United and Trans States, alleging negligence, false imprisonment and distress.
"For a crew to leave her there and lock her is beyond a gross abuse," Fieger said.
Negligence? You betcha. I'm good with that. Distress? Maybe. But fifteen minutes out of a lifetime? Gimme a break. False imprisonment? You got to be kidding. Most people would have laughed this whole thing off, been slightly embarrassed for snoozing so long in a parked aircraft, and moved on. But not Ms McGuire. She's decided to make herself a victim.
A Step in the Wrong Direction
Lauren Rosenberg used Google Maps to get walking directions between two points in Park City, UT. Unfortunately those directions led her down highway 224, which does not have pedestrian walkways. Ms Rosenburg was struck by a vehicle and severely injured. Before we go on, note that I do not find this humorous in the slightest. Ms Rosenburg has been badly injured and my heart goes out to her. Okay, moving right along...
Now admittedly I do not have all the details on this incident. Perhaps she had reached a spot where there simply wasn't enough room to walk safely along the roadside. I have encountered pedestrians in some damnably tight quarters and on occasion have actually slowed to a crawl to allow him / her to reach a spot with enough room for me to pass.
Perhaps she was walking with rather than against the flow of traffic, which means she might not have been aware of an approaching vehicle. Maybe the driver was drunk or high or engrossed in sending a text message. The possibilities are endless. Certainly, unless she was actually walking in the roadway and not beside it, she has a legitimate complaint against the driver of the vehicle.
But Ms Rosenburg is not just suing the driver. She's also suing Google for sending her down that road. According to AOL News:
"As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google's careless, reckless and negligent providing of unsafe directions, Plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle, causing her to suffer severe permanent physical, emotional and mental injuries," the complaint reads.
Now please allow me to pose a question here. Let's suppose that it's 1980 instead of 2010. No Internet. No Google. No billboards advertising lawyers with phone numbers like "800 Hurt 911" (no, I didn't make that number up). How might Lauren have mapped her route across Park City? Isn't it entirely possible that she'd have taken that same route? Maybe, maybe not.
But Lauren is an adult and should be able to make a judgment call as to whether she can safely walk along a particular path, Google or no Google. People walk along roads every day that do not have accommodations for pedestrians. The bottom line here is that Google provided a route for her with a service that is still in development, and she evidently depended upon that service instead of her own judgment and instinct.
Sue the driver, Lauren. Google did you no harm.
Enfield Moves to Left Field
For as long as America has existed, communities have used churches as gathering places for events and functions totally unrelated to worship. It's a common practice and churches are generally glad to provide the use of their facilities for various groups.
But recently in Enfield, CT two students and three of their parents sued two of the schools because they had contracted to use a local church for their graduation ceremonies. And a judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. There were no religious overtones. No plans to hold mass or pass out Bibles. Just a simple graduation ceremony.
According to an article at Fox News:
A federal judge has ruled two Connecticut public high schools can't hold their graduations inside a church because that would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall made the ruling Monday in the case of Enfield High School and Enrico Fermi High School, both in Enfield.
Huh? How does a graduation ceremony constitute an endorsement of religion? How is it that in a supposedly free country, two students and their crass, mindless parents can muck up a one-in-a-lifetime experience for all the other kids? And the really sad part is that the other students don't dare haul these two malcontents behind the gym and give'em an old fashioned teenage butt-whupping (remember those golden days?). Nowadays you get sued for "bullying" when you do that.
What a world we live in.
Woman left on plane recounts 'horrifying' experience:
Woman Hit By Car Sues Google Maps Over Directions
Conn. Town Can't Hold Graduations in Church, Judge Rules:
800 Hurt 911 Website: