Friday, August 19, 2005

Litigation Excess

The civil court system is designed to redress disputes of various sorts. It is supposed that these cases will be legitimate claims of damages or other similar grievances.

A lot of people think our society is plagued by too many people suing other people and businesses for little or no reason. I am one of them.

One result of this excessive litigation is a plethora of stupid warning labels, utilized in an attempt to thwart opportunistic consumers' efforts to get a lot of money for being stupid.

Here is one example:

  • A snowblower warns: “Do not use snowthrower on roof.”
Here is a column listing some truly absurd warnings. They would be funny, if it wasn't such a sad thing for our society that such idiocy is required for honest businesses to protect themselves.


Unknown said...

“DO NOT use massage chair without clothing... and, Never force any body part into the backrest area while the rollers are moving.”


Most of the lawsuits I see make me sick. And, really, it's not even actual litigation as much as threats of litigation. I have found that 100% of the threats I see are usually centered around a person's laziness, incompetence or greed (wanting to accomplish attaining money without working or acquiring education/working in different positions.

My philosophy now, with most of them, is... get you some.

Anonymous said...

The funniest thing is, most of those labels probably came about b/c of some idiots experience. Seriously, you can't make stuff like that up.

James Shott said...

One of the more notorious of these is the lady who spilled McDonald's coffee in her lap, then sued McDonalds.

Now there's this award in the Vioxx case. The jury awarded $253 million, $24 million to the widow, and $229 million in punitive damages. Merck might just decide not to produce any more new drugs, or they may take even more time to go to market, trying to be sure no one can get hurt. That will raise the price of new drugs substantially, I believe.

Unknown said...

I tend to think pretty high of myself, but I do not see my current worth as 250 Million Bucks...

James Shott said...

What frustrates me so much about these cases is that this guy was sick, and Merck made a product to address his illness. The company was trying to help people like him. Any time you take a drug, you are not guaranteed a perfect outcome, you are not guaranteed there will be no side effects, and you aren't guaranteed that some weird set of circumstances won't combine to result in harming you.

Yet, when the outcome isn't perfect, or if some actual harm comes to a consumer, it seems an automatic response to blame someone else (the drug company, the doctor, the hospital, et al) and try to get money.

Short of actual negligence or lack of competence, these cases ought to be dismissed.

At some point healthcare providers and drug companies may insist on a signed release from liability before you can get treatment or a prescription. Won't that be a wonderful development?