Friday, January 07, 2005

Another Case for Tort Reform

The great thing about the TV is that when something on the screen offends, annoys, or just plain sucks, you can either change the channel or turn the blasted thing off.

If you are especially put off by the program, you can write the network and express your displeasure.

Unfortunately, you can also sue the network and the producer of the show. This is what one Austin Aitkin of Cleveland is doing in response to an episode of Fear Factor. Apparently, the contestants on the show were expected to consume a drink of rat juice from the blender. Per the AP:
Aitken, 49, said he wants to send a message to NBC and other networks with the lawsuit. He said he isn't concerned with winning a cash judgment in court.

"I just put any figure. You really think I expect to get 2.5 million?" he said.

Actually, my bet is not so much with expecting to get that money, but with hoping to get it.

I'd like to send a message to those who would place frivolous lawsuits on the docket: knock it off. The kind of reform that is needed would cause for litigants to pay a large docket fee, say $10,000 in cash, that would be returned to them with interest by the defendant in the event the plaintiff won the case. This large docket fee would require the would-be litigant to think twice before filing, considering whether or not the case had real merit.
Aitken's handwritten lawsuit contends the rat-eating made his blood
pressure rise, making him dizzy and lightheaded.

"I didn't see the doorway on route to my room," his lawsuit reads.
"I ran into it causing suffering, injury and great pain."

This is why I say the suit is unfortunate. People experience real pain that is caused by others. These victims should be able to sue those who brought them real pain. Didn't see the doorway? This makes one a moron, not a victim.
Asked why he didn't shut off his television before the rat-eating
segment, Aitken said he couldn't do it quick enough.

NBC responded with a brief statement: "We believe that the claim is
completely without merit."

Amen, NBC. Let's hope that the judge who gets this case dismisses it summarily. Another way to reform the system is for judges to find those who bring frivolous lawsuits in contempt and to fine them. Either way works for me.

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