Plaintiffs claim discrimination, injury or other injustices. But in some ridiculous cases, their claims seem comic either because of how trivial they are or because of the price they ask in compensation. Has America, as a society, become too finicky?
Yes. Or so I believe.
In one instance, 32-year old Tova Gerson sued Century 21 for depriving her of 80 cents. She used a coupon for her purchase of $106.82. Nine days later she returned a $17.97 children’s outfit and was not reimbursed for the 80 cents she saved by using the coupon. Clearly, the only logical course of action was for her to then sue Century 21 for 5 million dollars. Eighty cents lost, five million gained. Reasonable.
Or perhaps relatively reasonable in comparison to others. Martin Stoner, a 60 year old violinist, for example, sued the Young Artist Competition for age discrimination. Wait a second then—I have an objection as well! I think high schools should end their bigoted favoritism and start admitting elders. Honestly, the injustice…
Gotta love the opportunists. Or, you can not, as I do not. Is it opportunism, then? Greed? Or do most of these people truly believe their actions are justified—that their complaints are significant enough to be necessary?
I do not claim to know enough about our legal system to truly censure its processes, nor do I think there is something inherently wrong with it. I do believe that our obsession with pursuing justice so fully erupts—every now and then—into something else entirely. I am only concerned such frivolity will detract from our credibility when the complaints need to be heard—when there is real inequality to be examined.
Eric Bennett Rasmusen and J. Mark Ramseyer, from Indiana University and Harvard Law, respectively, addressed this topic in a 2010 paper titled “Are Americans more Litigious? Some Quantitative Evidence.” They say, “American notoriety stems instead from what we might call ‘second-order law’: coffee spills, ADA suits, and tobacco settlements. These cases generate controversy, make a few trial lawyers rich, and provoke relentless calls for reform.”
Is that what this is? A call for reform? Nah, I’m just complaining.
So. I think all persons involved should just decide to stop with the futile lawsuits, the exaggerated responses to trivial matters, and the rest. Those in favor of the motion, say aye.
Featured Image: Building in Downtown Los Angeles. Photographer: Gaia Richardson ’15