Overlawyered: Fearing lawsuits over injuries, a West Virginia county is removing swing sets from elementary schools. A minor, local issue? No. America’s litigious society has changed the way kids play.
Roughly a year after a child broke his arm jumping off a swing like Superman and his parents are settling a lawsuit for $20,000, Cabell County, W.V., schools are yanking swing sets from school playgrounds. The lawsuit was one of two filed in the last year against Cabell County schools over swing set injuries, the West Virginia Record reported Thursday. School safety manager Tim Stewart, who is overseeing the removal, said he sees “a high potential when it comes to swings and lawsuits.”
What’s happening in Cabell County is not an isolated case. Local governments, fearful of lawsuits, have been for years closing pools, stripping playgrounds of equipment and banning outdoor games.
A Massachusetts elementary school has told students they can’t play tag. One Boston school forbids handstands while another in Needham, Mass., doesn’t allow students to hang upside down from the monkey bars. A pool in Hazleton, Pa., closed some years ago after a swimmer sued for $100,000 because he cut his foot running and jumping into the pool, though he’d been warned not to.
“There is nothing left in playgrounds that would attract the interest of a child over the age of four,” Philip K. Howard, lawyer and author, wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2008.
“Exercise in schools is carefully programmed, when it exists at all. … Broward County, Fla., banned running at recess. .. . Little Leagues forbid sliding into base. Some towns ban sledding. High diving boards are history, and it’s only a matter of time before all diving boards disappear.”
Olga Jarrett, a Georgia State University professor who prepares students to teach, told the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: “Many schools don’t have playgrounds at all, they don’t have recess. They’ve been built without playgrounds with the idea that this is not something we do at school.”
She blames “a fear of lawsuits that makes some school systems and cities design playgrounds that are completely uninteresting to kids.”
Howard, who wrote “The Death Of Common Sense” and “Life Without Lawyers,” has been warning the country for years that our fear of litigation is changing American culture.
He has preached the importance of placing reasonable limits on lawsuits and restoring reliability and justice to our legal system.
While we’ve seen enough progress to be hopeful, we don’t expect civil law reform to move as fast as it should as long as so many of our policymakers are owned by the plaintiffs’ attorneys lobby.(IBD)
Then consider all the Lawyer adds on TV. You can’t have a commercial break without one…or two…or three…
Or the whacko who sued McDonalds because her hot coffee was too hot!
Or the fact that Tort Reform (aka Trial Lawyers) were explicitly ignored by ObamaCare. Why, Trial Lawyers are one of the Democrats main source of cash!!
You have 43 warnings on a Step ladder, like do not stand on top of this ladder!
For example, does a Superman costume really need a warning label to tell people that it doesn’t cause super-strength or the ability to fly?
Really? No Kidding. Does that mean I sell my kryptonite on E-Bay then? 🙂
A teenage boy was hit by a runaway bat . His family sued the maker of the bat and got $850,000 in a products liability suit because the company failed to adequately warn about the dangers that the product can pose.
So now, baseball bats are required to post warning labels? What should the labels say?
“Caution: Getting hit in the head by this product might cause death.” (findlaw.com)
The family of Brandon Patch argued that aluminum baseball bats are dangerous because they cause the baseball to travel at a greater speed. They contended that their 18-year-old son did not have enough time to react to the ball being struck before it hit him in the head while he was pitching in an American Legion baseball game in Helena in 2003. (USA Today)
There was a mother who wants to sue Sea World because her precious 10 year old was at the performance where the whale drowned the trainer. That was Sea World’s fault! And she wants the cash!!
I see one more “Mesothelioma” ad I think I will chuck something at my TV!!
And the Congress is made up predominately of Lawyers. The President is a Lawyer.
I want also shed some light on the state of California’s up-to-$4,000-a-violation bounty system for freelancers who identify ADA violations in Main Street businesses, and the case for at least requiring complainants to give business owners notice and an opportunity to fix an ADA violation before suing. (The disabled-rights lobby has managed to stifle that proposal in Congress for years.)
So it’s the adult version of I-Spy, only you get $4,000 for hunting them down and killing them. Sounds more lucative than my day job.
Become a Professional ADA Violation Spotter and become rich! 😦
You own a business, maybe a restaurant. You’ve got a lot to worry about. You have to make sure the food is safe and tastes good, that the place is clean and appealing, that workers are friendly and paid according to a hundred Labor Department and IRS rules. (and soon ObamaCare, Cap & Trade,and Tax Increases!)
On top of that, there are rules you might have no idea about.
The bathroom sinks must be a specified height. So must the doorknobs and mirrors. You must have rails. And if these things aren’t right — say, if your mirror is just one inch too high — you could be sued for thousands of dollars.
And be careful. If you fail to let a customer bring a large snake, which he calls his “service animal,” into your restaurant, you could be in trouble.
The ADA was supposed to help more disabled people find jobs. But did it?
Strangely, no. An MIT study found that employment of disabled men ages 21 to 58 declined after the ADA went into effect. Same for women ages 21 to 39.
How could employment among the disabled have declined?
Because the law turns “protected” people into potential lawsuits. Most ADA litigation occurs when an employee is fired, so the safest way to avoid those costs is not to hire the disabled in the first place.
Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of the blog, Overlawyered.com, says that the law was unnecessary. Many “hire the handicapped” programs existed before the ADA passed. Sadly, now most have been quietly discontinued, probably because of the threat of legal consequences if an employee doesn’t work out.
Under the ADA, Olson notes, fairness does not mean treating disabled people the same as non-disabled people. Rather it means accommodating them. In other words, the law requires that people be treated unequally.
The law has also unleashed a landslide of lawsuits by “professional litigants” who file a hundred suits at a time. Disabled people visit businesses to look for violations, but instead of simply asking that a violation be corrected, they partner with lawyers who (legally) extort settlement money from the businesses.
Some disabled people have benefited from changes effected by the ADA, but the costs are rarely accounted for. If a small business has to lay off an employee to afford the added expense of accommodating the disabled, is that a good thing — especially if, say, customers in wheelchairs are rare? Extra-wide bathroom stalls that reduce the overall number of toilets are only some of the unaccounted-for costs of the ADA. And since ADA modification requirements are triggered by renovation, the law could actually discourage businesses from making needed renovations as a way of avoiding the expense.
A few disabled people speak up against the law. Greg Perry, author of “Disabling America: The Unintended Consequences of the Government’s Protection of the Handicapped,” says that because the disabled now represent an added expense to businesses, many resent them.
Finally, the ADA has led to some truly bizarre results. Exxon gave ship captain Joseph Hazelwood a job after he completed alcohol rehab.
Hazelwood then drank too much and let the Exxon Valdez run aground in Alaska. Exxon was sued for allowing it to happen. So Exxon prohibited employees who have had a drug or drinking problem from holding safety-sensitive jobs. The result? You guessed it — employees with a history of alcohol abuse sued under the ADA, demanding their “right” to those jobs. The federal government (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) supported the employees. Courts are still trying to sort it out.
More money for the parasites. (John Stossel)
Lawyers do have their place, but how much of this is too much and how much of this is the cart before the horse (trough)??
Lawsuits Make Us Less Safe
By John Stossel
Imagine if an evil business routinely deprived us of products that would help us live longer with less pain and more comfort. We’d be outraged, and lawyers would line up to sue. Yet something similar happens today, thanks to lawsuit abuse. Makers of all kinds of products are afraid to sell them to us because one lawsuit could ruin them.
Personal-injury lawyers claim they make America safer, but that’s a myth. It’s easy to see who benefits from those big damage awards we read about. Less obvious — but just as real — are the things we’d all like to have but never will get because of this climate of fear. Here are a few examples.
Monsanto once developed a substitute for asbestos — a new fire-resistant form of insulation that might save thousands of lives. But Monsanto decided not to sell it for fear of liability. Richard F. Mahoney, the CEO at the time, said, “There may well have been a safe, effective asbestos replacement on the market, and now there isn’t.”
Why do we have to worry about shortages of flu vaccine? Because only a handful of companies still make it. And why is that? Because when you vaccinate millions of people, some get sick and sue. Between 1980 and 1986, personal-injury lawyers demanded billions of dollars from vaccine manufacturers. That scared many American drug companies out of the business.
In 1986, Congress stepped in. To help curb the lawsuits that discouraged vaccine production, the government established a fund called the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It would pay victims’ families directly so they wouldn’t have to hire lawyers and suffer the delays of litigation. This was supposed to entice vaccine makers back into production, but drug companies were still leery, fearing that plaintiffs’ lawyers would sue them anyway.
They were right to worry. Eli Lilly developed a mercury-based preservative called Thimerosal that was used in many children’s vaccines. Plaintiffs’ lawyers jumped on scaremongers’ claims that mercury causes autism in children. Although a government-issued review found no such link, more than 100 autism lawsuits have been filed against vaccine makers since the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act passed. No wonder most drug manufacturers still steer clear of vaccine research.
Even when new vaccines are discovered, drug companies are sometimes afraid to sell them. The FDA has approved a vaccine against Lyme disease. Want some? Forget about it. No company wants to take the risk.
Fear of being sued reduced the number of American companies researching contraceptives from 13 to two.
After scientifically groundless lawsuits against breast-implant makers bankrupted Dow Corning, Japanese silicone makers stopped producing a pain-reducing silicone coating for hypodermic needles. A company director said, “We’re sure our product is safe, but we don’t want to risk a lawsuit.”
Union Carbide has invented a small portable kidney dialysis machine. It would make life much easier for people with kidney disease, but Union Carbide won’t sell it. With legal sharks circling, the risk of expensive lawsuits outweighs the possible profit.
Are you pregnant and nauseous? Bendectin would probably cure your morning sickness. For 27 years doctors prescribed the drug to 33 million women because it was so good at stopping nausea and vomiting. But you can’t buy Bendectin today because lawyers kept suing the manufacturer, Merrell Dow, claiming the drug caused birth defects.
Studies did not show that Bendectin caused birth defects, and Merrell Dow won most of the lawsuits. But after spending $100 million in legal fees and awards, the company gave up selling the drug. Bendectin has never been effectively replaced, and morning sickness is now a major contributor to dehydration during pregnancy.
Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, says, “Within two years of discontinuing Bendectin, the incidence of hospitalization for dehydration during early pregnancy doubled; the incidence of birth defects was unchanged.”
Those are just some of the life-enhancing products we know we must do without because America’s peculiar legal system makes it profitable for trial lawyers to pursue extortion — like litigation. What wonderful products will we never even hear about because the lawyers have created a climate of fear?
You can’t even look cross-eyed at a kid if you’re a teacher and you can never ever be alone with one under any circumstance whatsoever.
Because if you are, you could be on the sex-offender registry and working at McDonald’s being sued for your coffee being to hot in a nanosecond.
Thanks to Lawyers and the Lawsuit Lottery.
This lottery is similar to the regular one, you gamble that your ticket (the lawsuit) will pay you mega-millions and set you up for life. And the nice Lawyer who gets as much as 40% of it is right there to cheer you on. For there own benefit, of course.
Everyone wins, Everybody else loses. 😦
The author of the above book: “Predatory lawyers know they can file ridiculous lawsuits against innocent product makers and blackmail them into cash settlements — even in cases in which a user has ignored common sense,” said Dorigo Jones. “The real issue is not the obvious warning labels, but the billions of dollars in litigation costs passed on to consumers — a kind of a “lawsuit tax” we all pay. That is why M-LAW (http://www.mlaw.org/index.html) urges judges and policy makers to support civil justice reform.”
But don’t you feel better. You’ve taken responsibilities for the risks of being alive secure in the knowledge that if you do something stupid there’s always a lawyer there to make you the potential millionaire “victim”. Meanwhile, actual cases that are very legitimate could be overlooked because there isn’t enough will or money for anyone to care.
AP/Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch
Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite! 🙂
And if they do, I’m sure we can find someone to sue! 🙂