Hooray for the Canadian SC. Now how about the US?

Although this is an old story (May 22) I say three cheers and a pat on the collective back to the judges in the Supreme Court of Canada who gave another litigious, “whom-do-I-sue” mooch the deep six. You can read about it here .

My question now is how long it will take for the US Courts or legislators to do something about these people who think that the tort laws in our legal system are some kind of cash-for-life lottery.

Briefly, this guy had initially won $341,000 from a bottled water company because he had found a dead fly in one of their bottles. He had NOT consumed the water and therefore was not claiming physical harm, but only psychological damage.

He claimed to have suffered serious psychiatric symptoms after the incident, including sleeplessness and a major depressive disorder. He also claimed his sex life and his business were affected and he developed a phobia of flies. :rolleyes: He also claimed, according to another story on the case, that he was afraid to go into the shower :rolleyes: . (I guess he thought flies were going to come out of the shower head? :stuck_out_tongue: )

It puts me in mind of another case like this in Canada where a woman found a worm in a hamburger at a major fast-food franchise. While she did not have an iota of physical harm, she claimed that she woke up screaming every night and had not been ableto keep down solid food for years! :rolleyes: :dubious:

I forget how her case worked out, but on this bottled water guy, I could not agree more with the SC of Canada.

What they are basically saying is that you are responsible for the harm you could reasonably forsee. You are not responsible for the fact that someone els is a mental case who over-reacts to a minor occurrence.

Lawyers in Canada agree that this decision will have en enormous effect on moochy law-suits claiming unprovable “emotional and psychological damage”.

Now, it is time for the United States to do something about tort abuse. Why do Canadians care, you ask?

Because the national sport of suing people in the US affects the rates for civil liability insurance in Canada. This is because of something called re-insurance. Insurance companies re-insure themselves against having to make huge payments for civil liability. The companies who re-insure them look at the liability stats for all of North America as if Canada did not exist as a separate country (so what else is new :rolleyes: )

There are cases of playgrounds, pools and other facilities all over North America that have had to close or not be built because of the costs of civil liability.

Now, I know that Tomndebb will be just itching to claim that this is not a debate and to send my thread to the Pit so it can turn to a pile of pointless name-calling, but my debating points are these. It is time that tort law be reformed to seriously limit “mooch claims”. What Can the US do? Could the courts do it, or should the lawmakers? What is a “mooch” claim? Are there some forms of “psychological” suffering that should be compensated?

Inasmuch as the Pit is the place for criticizing mods, you might have composed a self-fulfilling proposition.

My comment about him sending my thread to the Pit is only a tiny fraction of a much longer message that proposes a serious debate about tort law. Are you saying, Liberal, that this moderator would seize upon any minor detail as a reason to dump my thread into the Pit?

I agree that there needs to be some reform. There are already ethics review boards for lawyers right? If a lawyer files a frivolous lawsuit then opposing council should be able to put said lawyer up for an ethics review and penalties follow.

The case involving an obese teenager and grandmother suing fast food chains comes to mind. What lawyer thought that was a legitimate case.
It seems to me I remember a case where a judge sentenced the lawyer to take some classes for wasting the courts time with a particular case.

No. He is pointing out that for the first time in the last dozen or so threads you started, this actually is a debate, rather than a whiny rant. So it serems rather piontless to try to deliberately flout the rule that says that complaints about Moderator actions should be posted in a different Forum.

However, since I am a better Moderator than you are a poster, I am quite willing to leave this thread, here. On the other hand, if you use my response, here, as an excuse/opportunity to post more slurs against me (rather than just dropping the matter in this Forum), I will simply close this thread with a Warning that you are out of line.

I think we’ve done tort reform in the US more than a few times. While I haven’t kept up, the response by **Gadarene ** in this thread from a year ago seems like a good, informed opinion.

Not at all. There’s no “minor detail” to it. You went out of your way to make a statement that had nothing to do with your own OP, but was instead about the moderator and what you believed he was “itching” to do. That whole sentence was pointless and gratuitous. It was basically a dare that yanked attention away from everything else you had written.

The really nice thing about this decision by the SC of Canada is that civil law, icluding civil liability, is the responsibility of the Provinces in Canada, and you would have to reform tort law one province at a time. But since this is a decision of the Supreme Court, it basically tells all free-lunch mooches that they can forget their ridiculous claims that a company owes them big bucks because of alleged “psychological suffering” from some minor bit of inconvenience.

Who makes tort law in the US?

Here is another idea: We all know that a huge proportion of medical costs is liability insurance for doctors. I am not saying that a doctor who operates drunk, for example, and turns a simple operation into a life-long sourc of suffering for his patient should not be sued (and prosecuted criminally).

But there are SOOOOO many cases where people have no business suing the doctor. Shit happens. Medicine is not perfect. One of the highest insurance costs is for plastic surgeons. Why? Because they take someone who had their face burned off and looks like a living nightmare, and turns them into someonewith a slightly deformed face. The work is a triumph, medically speaking. But the patient sues them because they were not made “beautiful” again.

How about this idea? Setting up a “Patients’ Compensation” system along the same lines as the “Workers’ Compensation”. In most countries, the workers’ comp scheme works like this. Employers pay into a fund that is used to give injured worker lifetime pensions if they are injured. But employees give up the right to sue (and the need to sue) their employer. It does not prevent a negligent employer from being prosecuted in a criminal court, though.

How about a system in which all doctors pay into a fund to compensate patients who suffer damages directly related to medical intervention? It could even cover mistakes made at pharmacies, with pharmacists contributing to the fund.

I realize this idea is still very half-baked, but what about it?

Am i the only one who thinks finding a fly in your bottled drink is valid grounds for suing? Not to the tune of 300k but certainly not frivolous enough to have to pay their legal fees.

It might be, but a more reasonable response could be to just return the bottle to the store of purchase and get a new one, which is what I guess I’d do in those circumstances.

As far as I am concerned, reasonable compensation would be an apology and a free case of their bottled water (carefully checked for flies).

Right! Write a letter of complaint to the company. Maybe they’ll send you a case as compensation. Unless you ate the fly and got very sick, I think a lawsuit for just finding it is just a money grab.

The mentality that bothers me is the “OOOO somebody made a mistake, let’s cash in” If someone suffered severe mental anguish from finding a fly in a bottle of water then let them see a counselor and have the company pay the bill. I’m thinking the idea of no incoming cash would heal their wounded psyche quick.

Please explain what damages you suffer as a result of finding a fly in your bottled drink, that would be sufficient to merit suing.

What we have here isn’t damages, but merely a defective product.

I can’t summon much interest in having them apologize, and I have to weigh how much trouble I’d have to go to over bottled water, of all things. Getting a replacement bottle or a refund will be fine.

from http://www.dbjlaw.net/article.jsp?practArea=20&articleIndex=1


I learned all that on the court shows. Marilyn Milian is hot. :smiley:

From what I can see in the decision (and if we’re going to examine a Supreme Court of Canada decision, perhaps we should look at the decision itself), the Court didn’t really do anything new or groundbreaking. It merely stated the requirements for negligence in actions such as this (paragraph 3), and measures those requirements against the facts of the case, citing existing precedent as necessary. The decision, it seems to me, is both reasoned and reasonable–it is hardly a “let’s kill cash-for life liability suits” response.

Just so everyone is on the same page, this was in a HUGE bottle of water, the kind you put on a home/business dispenser. Not an individual bottle you bought at the gas station.

You may or may not be right, Spoons, but some legal experts interviewed at the time of the decision were quoted as saying that it would basically put a chill on this type of moochy lawsuit.

Or if I may quote the precedent of Homer Simpson vs. the insurance Co., MGC (Matt Groening Cartoons) 1996, p. 27, “We only insure real losses Mr. Simpson, not imaginary ones.”

In other words, the court is politely saying that it is not the fault of the person you are suing if you are a mental case. Because if the sight of a worm in a hamburger or a fly in water ruins your life for years and years, either you are making this up to get money or you are a mental case.

Its not so much the finding of the fly thats the problem but the idea that you’ve been drinking an unsanitary product all along. Its not just one defective product, the fly water comes from the exact same place as all their other water.