This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
anguish, pain and suffering, blah-blah, to a typical American. This thought occurred to me, as I was reading a rather silly news report about a man in Connecticut, who bought a south-western whopper sandwich from a Burger King and found an unwrapped condom inside. So naturally, he is suing Burger King for ‘emotional distress, pain and suffering and medical expenses’. I am sure the claim will run to a few hundred thousand dollars. I concede that it must have been an icky feeling to bite into a condom; but emotional distress? Give me a break! The guy bit into a rubber condom for, like, two seconds – and it’s not as if he was some senior citizen with false teeth. He’s a strapping 24, who probably has no problem with beef jerky; and it’s a safe bet that his mouth and teeth have voluntarily ventured into more exotic territory – if you get my drift. And what medical expenses? Is he going to require a root canal because of this? You may recall a celebrated case, about a year ago, where a woman at a McDonald’s drive-in spilt hot coffee on her lap; and was awarded an exorbitant amount in damages. She probably spilt the coffee because she was juggling with it, a double bacon cheese burger and large fries all at the same time. And she sues McDonald’s and wins big. Go figure. And isn’t coffee supposed to be hot anyway? I’m sure she would have complained just as vociferously if the beverage had been lukewarm. On the one hand, Americans pride themselves on being tough and resilient – remember their ongoing love affair with guns? Yet the most trivial of accidents apparently inflict pain and suffering and mental trauma that can only be compensated by a million dollars or so. I suppose, you can’t blame them for trying, but what surprises me is that many juries are eager to hand out damages that are totally disproportionate to the accident. I wonder why that is. Is it the ingrained desire of the small man to stick it to large corporations every chance they get? No wonder lawyering is such a lucrative profession in the US. It may surprise some Americans to learn that, in most other countries of the world, very few individuals have their personal lawyers. I don’t for example – and I don’t intend to look for one until the need arises. And isn’t it shameful that, in an already overburdened legal system, so many judges waste so much time presiding over these absurdities. Sure, it provides great drama on Boston Public and The Practice, but television is where it belongs; and that is where it should stay.