Do You Have An Outrageous Problem? There’s a Lawyer For That.
It seems that people are suing for the most insignificant things. Whether it is the sagging economy or a sense of entitlement, people are suing others for things that most people would consider completely accidental and not worth worrying about. As the following cases illustrate, stupidity and luck can make people wealthy.
In 2003, Cedric Makara of New York City won his case against Newmark Realty and 40 Worth Associates in which he claimed their negligence caused serious injury to his thumb. Mr. Makara had used a bathroom in which the door had no knob. When Mr. Makara placed his hand in the hole that had originally held the knob, an individual entering the bathroom pushed the door as Mr. Makara was pulling, resulting in serious injury to his thumb.
The injuries were so severe that surgery was required to repair tendon damages and he missed six months of work as a claims examiner. A jury awarded him almost three million dollars: two million for past and future pain and suffering, $200,000 for future medical expenses, and $750,000 for his wife for her pain and suffering.
While certainly bizarre, were the defendants truly negligent? It is not all that unusual for people to try to enter and exit the bathroom at the same time. This leads one to wonder if someone is pulling a door to exit a bathroom while someone else is trying to enter and the person exiting gets smacked in the nose, will the establishment be sued for failure to pad the door or post a warning sign?
What’s in a Name?
While some people like sharing a name with a celebrity or famous athlete, rarely do those people end up with their salaries. In 2003, Mark Guthrie, a carrier for the Hartford Courant, mistakenly had the paychecks for Chicago Cubs reliever Mark Guthrie deposited into his account. The mistake apparently occurred since both are employed by the Tribune Company. This mistake boosted the newspaper carrier’s salary by $301,000.
The Tribune Company received $275,000 of the mistaken deposit, when Mr. Guthrie froze his account. He agreed to release the funds once the Tribune Company that he would receive his salary and that he would not be responsible for any tax ramifications resulting from the mistake. Rather than taking the high road, the Tribune Company sued Mr. Guthrie. Eventually, the parties reached an undisclosed settlement.
While it is always nice to think that the financial gods will bless one’s account with additional funds, the chances of this actually occurring without some ramifications are next to nil. Aside from returning the funds, there are tax issues that can take years to unravel. When receiving a windfall, it is best to check with the financial institution to be sure the money is where it belongs.
As these cases illustrate, mistakes do happen. It is certain that the Tribune Company, Newmark Realty or 40 Worth Associates did not mean to cause harm, financially or physically, to the plaintiffs. As with many incidents that occur, these were simple accidents through the fault of no single person or entity. The fact that settlements are reached in such cases is further evidence that companies are taking responsibility even where none is necessary.