Thursday, February 3, 2011

US style consumer protectionism

A photo of a cup of coffee.Image via WikipediaOver here in Europe, people laugh about cases like the one where an elderly lady burned herself by putting (and spilling) a cup of hot coffee in her crotch at the drive-through. As unfortunate as it was, the general take over here would be, "You mean you are 79 years old and you still don't know that coffee is hot? And what are you doing putting a hot drink in your crotch while you drive around?"

If I did something that stupid, I would honestly be too embarrassed to sue McDonald's.

Now, I see that Dennis Kucinich, a former candidate for the presidency and a champion of left-leaning Democratic causes, sued the cafeteria at the House of Representatives because he bit into a sandwich containing an unpitted olive. He was awarded 150,000 dollars.

It sounds like he honestly did go through quite a bit of torment – his tooth split – but here's the deal, Dennis: sometimes, the pit stays in the olive. My mother-in-law sometimes gives me a jar of cherries from her garden, and she has a little machine to remove the stones – but there's always a stone or two (or a piece of a stone) in that jar somewhere. Should I ever break a tooth on a stone, I won't be suing her.
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  1. He's our hometown hero . If it makes you feel any better he is getting A LOT of flack for his lawsuit (both in the media and among my local Twitter peeps), and I wouldn't be surprised if he were to never be elected again. Then again, this is Dennis, and his misguided run for presidency didn't hurt him in his district either...

  2. Oh, my goodness – I had no idea he was your local rep. I do remember thinking his politics were very close to mine, for what it's worth, back when he made his bid for the presidency, but since his chances were so slim, I don't think I paid a lot of attention.

    I may be wrong, but I doubt that a guy who makes sandwiches has 150,000 dollars to fork over, not even one serving senators and congresspeople.

    I'm also a really big fan of Ralph Nader, by the way, and his lawsuits led to a lot of the consumer protectionism we have today – both good and bad. And silly.

  3. You know Stella Liebeck wasn't quite as stupid as you make out - she wasn't driving but in the passenger's seat - the car wasn't moving - she had difficulty getting the lid off - there was a history of McDonalds hushing up claims of this kind etc.:

  4. Most of that info is at the link I provided under "like the one" above.