MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

September 18, 2008

Suing: The New Great American Sport!

Everybody loves to sue anyone these days! Law suits have probably surpassed baseball as the #1 great American past time.

I'm not joking (much).

It seems everyone sues or at least threatens to sue as casually as flipping a light switch. I'm not just referring to the ridiculous cases that are in the news (like hot coffee or cats in the microwave). But it seems everything and anything is fair game. There use to be a time when you handled your disputes yourself. Maybe yelled, maybe threatened but you did it yourself. Now you sic your lawyer on someone.

Some examples:

There is a certain local self-proclaimed 'leader' of the paranormal community. He is very well known for threatening law suits on other paranormal investigators and groups if you disagree with the "evidence" he puts forth. If you tell him the picture is a camera flare or dust orb he immediately says you're bashing him. If you say that someone who purports to an experienced investigator with 10+ years experience under his belt should know the difference between a dust orb and a possible ghost he threatens to sue you for slandering him (by the way, the word is "liable" when it's written, "slander" is when it's spoken). I don't know of anyone he has actually sued but just making the constant threat is telling.

In another situation, earlier this year (end of February to be exact) on a message board about jobs and employment a person posted they had not yet received their 2007 W-2 from their employer. This person wanted to know if they can sue the employer. What the hell for?! Fortunately many members of the forum jumped in and said the same thing – why do you need to sue?! Just tell your employer you didn't get your W-2 and they'll print you a new one. But no, he wanted to sue! Not sure what kind of damages he could claim since it was still a month and a half before taxes were due. But still, just the concept that he didn't get an important document and, rather than call his HR department, he'd rather call a lawyer!

Recently on my e-commerce website a person placed an order for a product that was out of stock. I sent them an email stating the item was out of stock but was on order from my supplier (which was true) and expected it in soon. That was on a Thursday. The following Tuesday – a mere 3 business days later – I get an irate phone call from the customer yelling "Where is my order?!". The customer denied every getting the email, which to be reasonable I suppose is possible in that if may have gone to his junk/spam folder. Nevertheless, he's calling irate after only 3 business days? Even if the item was in stock and it was shipped the same day he ordered it, Tuesday would have been the earliest he could have received it anyway. First this guy demanded I forward him the email that was previously sent as proof we did try to contact him. Then – here's the really good part! – he said he was going to sue me for fraud! Why? Because my website didn't say it was out of stock at the time he ordered it. That he claims is fraud. I asked him what kind of damages did he incur, given that his credit card had not been charged for anything. He said it didn't matter that he hadn't been charged but that the website should say the item is out of stock (for those not in the technical know-how, it is extremely difficult, technical and EXPENSIVE to link a website to a real-time inventory tracking system and is beyond the means of most small businesses and even some larger ones). I told him he's free to do what he wants. Naturally he cancelled his order. Still waiting to hear from his lawyer. I'm not holding my breath on that.

More interesting to me is: Where on Earth do these people find lawyers to take these kinds of cases?

I have had a couple of occasions in my life that I felt I did have grounds for a good suit. When I consulted a lawyer I was advised that while I could press a suit the time and cost was probably not worth whatever damages I could expect to get. In other words, legal advise was to just forget it and move on.

I don't get it. Probably never will.

Can I get a varsity letter in law suit?

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