by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As Appearing in the Daily Sentinel
A woman in Austin, Texas tripped over a toddler running inside a store, and broke her ankle. She sued the store owners, claiming they maintained an unsafe environment. The store had to pay $80,000 in damages. Everyone watching the case was shocked by the outcome, because the toddler was her own son!
A Philadelphia woman, arguing with her boyfriend in a restaurant, got so angry she threw a drink at him. She stormed away, slipping on the wet floor and breaking her tailbone. Never mind that the floor was wet because of the drink she herself had thrown; she was so angry she sued — not the boyfriend, but the restaurant, for having a wet floor. The owner ended up paying her $113,000.
Common sense notwithstanding, judges and juries in those cases couldn’t see who was at fault. In one recent forestry case, a federal judge pointed the finger at the U.S. Forest Service when the blame actually belonged to the judge himself.