Thursday, October 7, 2004 12:00 a.m.
It was a bit after midnight.
The Times Square ball had fallen bringing in the new year of 2001, and
officers with the Ramsey Police Department were most certainly busy with
noise complaints, drunk and disorderly’s, maybe even some fireworks
complaints and all such calls that come with the first minutes and hours
of any new year.
At about the same time, a drunken gentleman staggered out of a party he
had been attending at a Ramsey Hotel. His aim was to purchase some
cigarettes and get a bite to eat.
He never made it. At some point during his drunken jaunt, the gentleman
passed out in a snow bank. A good Samaritan saw the man and called
police. A search was conducted, but the responding officers were unable
to locate the man and most likely assumed he was up and on his way.
Unfounded calls like this occur every day in law enforcement.
The man was discovered the next morning in an area where officers were
unable to see him. He had a body temperature of 78
degrees and frostbite in his right hand.
After a trip to the emergency room, a trip to an attorney’s office
Forty-four months later, the gentleman is almost a million dollars
richer for his efforts. Yes, his efforts in leaving a party drunk and
falling in the snow.
A jury awarded him one million dollars but deducted 15% as they believed
he owned 15% of the fault of that evening, so he must make do with just
Each day similar justice (and similar jury awards) is meted out across
Our society has become overrun with a class of get-rich-quickers who
have found the easiest way to close the gap between the haves and the
have-nots is a seat at the plaintiff's table of the courtroom.
Unfortunately, law enforcement has become one of the groups becoming all
too comfortable on the other side of the courtroom at the defendant’s
The handcuffs applied by the officer were too tight, the bandage applied
by the officer was too loose. The baton strike was too low, the bail was
too high. The response time was too slow, the radio car went too fast.
The officer’s response was too much, the officer’s response was not
enough. Overreacted, under reacted, too little force, not enough force,
should have made an arrest, shouldn’t have made an arrest, and the list
We are not even remotely suggesting that law enforcement is free of
mistakes, and parties legitimately injured by one of these mistakes are
not entitled to compensation for real damages.
However, the number of frivolous lawsuits filling our nation’s dockets
is overwhelming. Part of the problem lies with a society trying “to get
But, another source of this problem is the never-ending line of personal
injury attorneys battling immense competition among their brethren to
represent anyone and everyone who claims to be a victim.
In the daytime hours, the words “BROKEN BONES” flash in the background
of television commercials featuring a sleeves-rolled-up barrister
claiming he cares about you. He is concerned about you and your family
and wants to take on the that dastardly company or organization which
dared harm you by act or omission.
There was once a time where law was a respected and noble profession. A
man of the law was a mentor to many and a source of wisdom to all.
Today, their solicitations and promises don the covers of phone books,
shopping cart seats, billboards, newspapers, and just about every square
inch that offers retail advertising.
With a distinguished background of law books, a flag, and the scales of
justice, they fill television screens practically begging viewers to
call them with anything.
In some cases when a win is not probable, suits are filed anyway with a
goal of obtaining a settlement which is less costly to the party being
sued even when this party knows they are on firm ground.
Still, there are those who enter and practice law with noble intentions,
but their efforts and accomplishments are becoming more obscure.
The effects of frivolous lawsuits are far more reaching than what meet
They are in great part responsible for the problems with our health care
system. Insurance rates, property taxes, doctor visits, job benefits all
suffer due to frivolous lawsuits. We pay more for products and services
so lawyers may enjoy their coveted one third.
Finally, law officers who once came on the job with intentions of
ridding their communities of crime, evolve into stagnant drifting wood
who do little more than respond to their calls. After all, “you can’t be
sued for doing nothing” the logic reads.
Reform is needed. Real reform is needed. Groundbreaking,
file-a-frivolous-lawsuit-and-suffer-the-consequences reform must come
and put a scare into everyone who walks out of a bar drunk and falls in
Penalties against law practitioners who lead these nonsensical actions
must also be attached.
This might be difficult since most of our elected officials have a
shingle hanging somewhere, but if they won’t, we need to vote in those
There are many issues on the table in today’s world. This needs to be a
October 8, 2004
Amen to that. The only part that wasn't addressed
that also bothers me are the frivolous lawsuits from within. When one of
our own brothers in blue decides the department is at fault for his or
her own stupidity. I've seen that scenario played out far too often in
my department. Some moron (who everyone knows is a moron) does something
like wreck a patrol car (doing 130 on a wet highway, not to a call, but
just for fun) that should get them a couple days, but no, they end up
triple-dipping from Worker's Comp, Aflac, and a lawsuit against the
department because the cruiser didn't have anti-lock brakes. Burns up
those of us who work for a living--doing things the RIGHT way.
October 8, 2004
The likelihood of prevailing in a [tort] civil
lawsuit are enormous. Sure, there is always anecdotal evidence of
million dollar awards, but the evidence does not back it up. Many are
overturned or reduced on appeal. Insurance companies could do their part
and fight these all the way to the end, instead of settling. What kind
of message does That send? Juries are made up of your friends and
neighbors, family members, etc. How are They arriving at these figures?
When they shirk Jury Duty, they allow these things to happen. Check out
the ENTIRE McDonald's "Hot Coffee" lawsuit & see what Really took place.
Stay Safe Everyone.