The thing about the law in the United States is that it is fluid and always changes. This keeps things interesting. However, even though the law changes, it seems that some things about it never change. Rest assured that we will always have the strange and bizarre in the law. Take laws and statutes for instance, sometimes these laws are well conceived efforts to address specific and definite problems; however, for some reason, the cure is sometimes worse than the problem. Other times, the weird and bizarre come about when people apparently sit down and ask the question, “What is the most bizarre and strange thing I could do and then how could I make that even stranger?” I frequently wonder in amazement at the quandaries that people are able to create, not only for others, but for themselves as well.
This week I am going to look at some bizarre lawsuits and odd laws from around the .
One of the cornerstones of our democracy is that our courts are open to anyone for anything. Any person can walk into a courthouse, without an attorney, and file a lawsuit against anyone for anything. Now, there are rules that limit suits against certain entities, individuals and organizations, but even with these rules, there are ways to file lawsuits. Now these lawsuits may ultimately be dismissed soon into the case, but many result in settlements or verdicts for the plaintiff or plaintiffs. And when one bizarre lawsuit settles or returns a verdict for a plaintiff, the floodgates are opened to even more creative plaintiffs who think their case is even better or worth even more. Remember when a hot cup of coffee cost McDonald’s millions? So without further adieu!
A man in Oregon has sued the. This alone is hardly fodder for weird news, but as with any case of the bizarre, we need to read a bit deeper. It seems that this individual likes to camp, in short he has an affinity for the outdoors. On a recent trip to Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest, while camping, this 23 year old man fell into a creek bed and was injured. Well, you say, nothing weird about that. However, buried in his lawsuit against the the man goes on to say, “While finding a place to relieve himself, plaintiff walked off the unguarded and unprotected cliff falling approximately 20 to 30 feet to the creek bed below.” Turns out the man got up in the middle of the night and wandered off to, well, be one with nature, and in the dark he walked off a cliff. He claims that the government should have realized the inherent danger of this situation and should have placed signage and warnings. He is seeking damage for his injuries and the “mental anguish” he suffered as a result of the fall. I agree with him, he should be compensated. In fact, I think the government should buy him a personal self contained illumination system as part of the settlement. You can find them at the local camping supply store. I call them flashlights – batteries included.
As a tribute to Stella Liebeck, the woman who spilled the coffee I mentioned above, annual awards are given to the most outlandish lawsuits in the country. Some of the winners deserve mentioning – just because they really defy comment.
A 19 year old Los Angles man was hurt when his hand was run over by a Honda Accord driven by his neighbor. A jury awarded the man $74,000 plus legal expenses for the accident. After all, if one gets one’s hand caught under a car tire, especially when it is attached to car, it will hurt. However, I’m curious if the jury knew that the reason the man’s hand was under the tire of the car was because he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps? Wonder how much he would have received by the jury had he been trying to steal the engine?
An Oklahoma man decided he had to have a brand new 32 foot RV. He went out and purchased a Winnebago and hit the great American highways. On his first trip he drove onto a highway, set the cruise control at 70 miles per hour and went in the back of the RV to make himself a cup of coffee. Much to his surprise the RV ran off of the road and both he and the RV suffered more than minor damage. A jury awarded him 1.75 million dollars. It seems that the owner’s manual for the RV didn’t specifically say that you couldn’t leave the wheel to make coffee. The RV manufacturer changed this after the verdict just in case any other thirsty morons decided to buy a Winnebago. Good thing they did as the jury in the case also awarded the driver a new RV. Maybe if Starbucks had an RV drive through…..
Generally when laws are passed some thought is put into their application, how they will be received and how they will be viewed, but from some of the laws out there, it’s hard to be sure that perhaps some other solution wasn’t possible.
For example, some Alabama politician, albeit more than a century ago, apparently looked upon incestuous marriage with some degree of compassion. It seems that in Alabama that while you can have an incestuous marriage annulled, you can still have an incestuous marriage should you so desire. The law in Alabama says that the issue of incestuous marriage, unless annulled, is not illegitimate. This means that if you have to marry a relative for whatever reason, head on down to
Alabama and have at it. From the looks of the law’s history, while it was first addressed in the 1850’s and as recently as the 1940’s the state legislature has reviewed the law. I really wasn’t aware that this was such the issue in Alabama. See Code of Alabama 30-1-3. Rocks in Colorado have rights!! According to Colorado Statute 25-13-105, you cannot injure or mutilate a rock in a Colorado state park. I simply wasn’t aware that rock bashing was such a problem in Colorado. Here on the East Coast we generally leave our rocks alone and they do the same to us.
Every so often you stumble across a law that just makes you wonder what the problem was that made someone decide to regulate it. For example, in Connecticut there was apparently a problem with either sympathetic or lazy jailers sometime back. The jailers seemed to have a problem with giving alcohol or liquor to the prisoners. Perhaps the jailers felt bad that the prisoners had to endure their time in the pokey or maybe drunk prisoners were easier to handle. Whatever the reason, the powers that be in Connecticut decided it was enough of a problem that they had to pass a law prohibiting it. However, as with any law, there is a loophole. It seems that if the alcohol is medicinal in nature, it is okay. I can hear the prison guard now – “Well, he said he wasn’t feeling good, so I gave him some Jack Daniels for his sore throat.” See the Connecticut Liquor Control Act – 30-98.