Don’t Go After The Guy Responsible, Go After The Corporation With The Money?

This story illustrates another one of my pet peeves about the way our out-of-control legal system works here in America…

“The parents of a girl paralyzed in a car wreck caused by a drunken football fan have sued the National Football League, claiming it should be held responsible for the girl’s injuries.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, contends the league promotes the type of behavior that led the fan to drink 14 beers at a New York Giants game in 1999 and then drive home.”

Sadly, stories like this are all too common these days. A greedy family and their money grubbing lawyer want to sue for injuries suffered, but the person responsible doesn’t have enough cash to make it worth their wild. So what do they do? They claim that some person or company with peripheral involvement is responsible for no other reason than because the target has money.

Just ask yourself; “What do they have to lose by suing the NFL”? The honest answer is very little. On the other hand, the NFL has a lot to lose. Sure, it may be a longshot that the NFL will actually lose the case, but you never know — stranger things have happened. Furthermore, because the NFL has to spend legal fees defending themselves in court and because losing a case like this could set a very damaging precedent, the NFL is going to be tempted to settle. That’s because it may make more business sense to pay someone $50k to go away and not discuss the case (so no one else gets the same idea) than to pay a few hundred thousand dollars in legal fees fighting this in court against a girl who people are going to have sympathy for because she was paralyzed in a car wreck.

So while I’m terribly sorry about the injury that poor girl suffered, it doesn’t give her, her family, and her blood sucking lawyer the right to rip off the NFL. The fault lies solely with the fan who made the irresponsible decision to get plastered at the game and drive home, not with the NFL. The National Football League sold a legal product to an adult who had every right to consume it. If the guy who caused that wreck got trashed and made a decision to break the law by driving home, that’s his mistake and his mistake alone. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the NFL has no more responsibility for that wreck than the makers of the car the drunk was driving at the time.

If we had a loser pays system, sham cases like this would never even make it to court. That day can’t come soon enough for me.

***Update #1***: Eddie had this to say in the comments section…

“Sorry, but I beg to differ on this matter.

I lived most of my 60+ years in Bergen county, NJ. The Giants, NFL and whatever DO have a responsibility in this case. They promote beer drinking because Bud pays the bills and lavish expenses of the owners, players, agents and who ever else is involved and then some.

Money talks…Nobody walks; said the Flag ship furniture store on Route 22 in Union, NJ so many years ago…Well in this case that little innocent girl will not walk ever and even all the money in the world will not allow that, but lots of money will make her life a little easier.

I hope the poor family comes out owning the Giants and the NFL. Screw the macho football fans and their legal drugs (alcohol)!!”

Sure drinking is legal & millions of NFL fans drink at the games and make it home without incident every single year, but this girl is paralyzed and the NFL has money, so we have got to abandon all rational thought and stick it to them. Thanks but, no thanks.

I’m not picking on Eddie here, but I wanted to respond because I think his comments are typical of the thinking of a much larger group of people. Really and truly, all it comes down to here is that we have the family of a little girl we all feel sympathy for suing a big corporation and the attitude is, “Right or wrong, it doesn’t really matter. I feel bad for the kid and the NFL isn’t going to miss a few million dollars”.

But it does matter folks and it matters a lot. All the costs of these ridiculous court cases get passed on by the businesses to us. Then either the rest of us pay more or the company goes out of business. Furthermore, this is a much bigger issue than just football tickets or the cost of concessions at Giants stadium. Think about it. If the NFL has to pay out for selling a legal product to an adult who is legally able to purchase it, despite the fact that they make tens of millions of similar sales every year without causing a similar problem, then should….

…a Walmart be sued for selling a knife to someone who stabs a little girl to death?

…a water company be sued for selling water used to fill someone’s pool if a neighbor’s child later drowns while swimming there unsupervised?

…a hardware store be sued for selling a hammer to someone who later uses it to cripple a little kid with?

The reality here is that someone CHOSE to get drunk, CHOSE not to have someone else drive him home, CHOSE to break the law by driving home while he was sloshed, and through his irresponsible actions severely injured an innocent child. The NFL did not force him to make those choices, they didn’t force him to break the law, he CHOSE to do it on his own. The driver — who has been sent to jail by the way — is responsible for his own actions and he’s the one who deserves the blame. What happened to that little girl is terrible, but that doesn’t mean her family should be allowed to play lawsuit lottery with the NFL because the real culprit didn’t have enough money to suit them.

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