I'm Forrest Carr, novelist, blogger, land snark, and former TV news director and talk radio host. I tackle politics, cats, the media, paranormal psychology, dreams, God, guns, evolution, rat bastards, and anything else that might make you think or laugh, maybe even simultaneously. And, oh yeah, I have cancer, which makes me the Walter White of bloggers. You have been warned.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Sue the Bastards
In this installment: screwed-over employees, a shellfish shock,
and an embarrassed burglar seeks revenge.
employer operates auto upholstery shops in several states. Recently it closed its local business and
threw me and about 15 other people out of work.
We’d become unhappy with pay and working conditions, and recently one of
us had contacted a union in town to inquire about organizing. Our company has always let it be known that
if we workers ever were to unionize, they’d shut down the shop. This looks suspicious to me. What can we do?
--Scrood in Scottsdale
the National Labor Relations Board and the courts can’t raise the dead. But since your company operates not just one
shop but a chain of them, you’re in luck.
If you can show that anyone in your work force so much as mentioned the
word “union” out loud, then you’ve got a case.
Definitely: Sue the Bastards.
ate at Charlie’s Charmingly Cheap Seafood Shanty & Saloon the other
day. When I bit into a piece of lobster,
I went into anaphylactic shock and nearly choked to death. I’m still covered with an ugly red rash. I knew I was allergic to shellfish, but I’d
never had such a severe reaction before.
It doesn’t seem right that a restaurant can so blithely offer such a
dangerous entrée to its customers. What
are my rights?
--Choked in Choctaw
knew you were allergic, so some might think that you’re solely to blame here. However, like any restaurant, Charlie’s
Charmingly Cheap Seafood Shanty & Saloon makes its profits from selling
food to consumers like you. And in Charlie’s
case, they’re in the shellfish business, so they know or should know all about
the dangers of that type of food. Therefore,
they had a duty to protect you from your own stupidity.
this: Go by the restaurant and pick up a
copy of their menu. Somewhere on it they
ought to have a warning that looks something like this: “Customers with food allergies eat at their
own risk. This restaurant cannot
guarantee that any food item is allergen-free.
Restaurant assumes no liability for any adverse reactions to meals and
beverages. If you have any food
allergies, please inform your server before placing your order.”
there’s no such warning and disclaimer, you’ve got a good case. But even if there is, you may still be in
luck. Find out whether the restaurant
has any food safety training programs in place for its employees. For instance, does the restaurant require its
staff to review training videos about food allergies? Have workers received information on what to
do if a patron becomes ill? Are there
allergy warnings posted in the kitchen? In
some jurisdictions, such training and warnings may be required. Check with your health department to see if
that’s the case in your city.
whether they’re required or not, if any of these items is missing, that gives
you an opening. The odds of a restaurant
with the name of Charlie’s Charmingly Cheap Seafood Shanty & Saloon doing
all these things is slim. So by all
means: Sue the Bastards.
was burglarizing a private residence the other day when something really
embarrassing happened. My friends and I had
hit this particular home a few times.
Apparently the guy was pretty fed up, because he rigged a booby
trap. As I stepped inside, I tripped an
electric eye, causing a paint gun that had been mounted on the ceiling to
fire. The ball hit me right between the
eyes. It could have put my eye out! The strike did raise a big, ugly bruise on my
forehead. Furthermore, the splatter caused
me to get arrested after a policeman spotted me on the street wearing yellow
paint and stopped me. I was really
embarrassed, and now I’m facing burglary charges even though I didn’t take
anything this time. I don’t feel the
homeowner had a right to set a booby trap.
What can I do?
--Mortified in Morrisville
you’re probably hosed on the burglary charge.
But in terms of civil liability, the legal ground here is well tested. In many cases, the homeowner is liable for
anything that happens on his or her property.
In all cases, if someone
deliberately sets up a trap in such a way as to deliberately injure someone,
then they’re definitely and doubly liable.
And yes, an assault on your dignity, because of the personal
embarrassment it caused you, counts as an injury. It could even amount to intentional infliction
of emotional distress. The amount of
damages you might be awarded is uncertain.
But at very least, a lawsuit would cause the homeowner as much
aggravation as he caused you, if not more.
So go ahead. Sue the Bastard.
The Sue the Bastards blog is
offered as satire only. The author is
not a lawyer, has received no legal education, and specifically disavows that
this blog constitutes legal advice or should be followed as such. The author does state that the need to
include such a disclaimer proves a point about the litigious nature of our
society. So there.
If you’d like to see more writing
along these lines, check out the novel Messages, which shows the same degree of respect to
the news industry.