Tuesday, February 01, 2005



My college pal Brian Lehrhoff forwarded the most recent copy of the Stella Awards to me. If you haven't signed up for them, you should at least go to the site (http://www.StellaAwards.com) and look things over. The Stella Awards recognize the stupidest, most nakedly greedy and avaricious lawsuits brought over the past year. I was particularly amused by the #6 stupid lawsuit of 2004:

The Tribune Co. of Chicago, Ill. The newspaper chain owns several newspapers, as well as the Chicago Cubs baseball team. One of its newspaper carriers was Mark Guthrie, 43, of Connecticut. One of its ball players was Mark Guthrie, 38, of Illinois. The company's payroll department mixed the two up, putting the ballplayer's paycheck into the paper carrier's bank account. The carrier allowed them to take back 90 percent of the improperly paid salary, and said they could have the rest after they gave him a full accounting to ensure he not only got his own pay, but wouldn't have any tax problems for being paid $300,000(!) extra. The Tribune Co., rather than provide that reasonable assurance, instead sued him for the rest of the money. Complete list here.
Story Copyright ©2005 Freelance Communications.

Makes you wonder about the future of the republic, doesn't it? It's even more depressing for me, because I object to the trend to legislative limits on lawsuits, whether for women suing because they've dropped coffee on their lap while driving or for widows of men who have died because a surgeon left a retractor in a patient's abdomen. With the right jury, these cases would result in the proper penalty assessed. Perhaps our jury system should be altered in cases like these. Instead of giving lawyers the ability to remove potential jurors before selection, perhaps a pool of x number of potential jurors should be interviewed by both sides, with each side selecting half of the jury. Perhaps the possibility of advocacy on the jury will make for more reasonable awards.

But for the Tribune Company to sue its paper carrier for its own mistake should be criminal.

Which reminds me: Let me soon discuss my theory that white collar crime of certain nature and magnitude should be punished by death. That would have kept those Enron creeps from raping the West.

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