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What happened to ‘accidents?’

March 30, 2012
Bill Finnigan - Community Columnist ( , Tribune Chronicle |

Why are some people so quick to place blame on others for events that could not have been prevented? Don't we all have ''accidents,'' or find ourselves in situations beyond our control? Why are we bent on making someone pay for every ''mistake'' that affects us?

A Warren woman recently sued Radio Shack on Parkman Road N.W., claiming that she was assaulted and threatened at gunpoint during a recent robbery. She is seeking $25,000 in damages, citing that the defendants (company) were reckless and negligent in failing to provide adequate security from ''criminal intrusion.'' Not in any way to minimize her trauma, but what about the employees, and the store's loss?

How could one find Radio Shack responsible for someone robbing them? How much security, if any, can a business have to make it ''thug proof?'' The lady was caught in an unfortunate situation, but so were the employees. Are they going to sue Radio Shack, as well? Who is Radio Shack going to sue? There's blame in this case, but it's not with the business.

Things happen in life and sometimes they have no rhyme or reason. We call them accidents. I just learned that an 83-year-old woman is suing Apple for $1 million after ''smashing her face'' on a glass door at a Long Island, N.Y., store. She claims she didn't realize she was walking into a wall of glass. Again, we feel sorry for the lady, but how is this Apple's fault? Stuff happens, with no justification to blame or ''sue'' anyone.

Certainly no rational attorney would take this case - or would he? Yes, Derek Smith, her lawyer, defends her by citing that ''Apple wants to be cool and modern, having architecture that appeals to the ''tech crowd.'' Thus, the ''defendant was negligent ... in allowing a clear, see-through glass wall and / or door to exist without proper warning.''

How could anyone with common sense justify such a suit?

On a weightier note, the issue of malpractice insurance for physicians is a growing concern. Premiums seem to be ''going through the roof,'' causing some local doctors to close shop or move. Lawyers and insurance companies blame each other for the crisis. Both are making exorbitant amounts through the increasing number of people suing their doctors. This adds tremendous pressure upon physicians to ''practice perfectly.''

While no one would tolerate ineptness, doctors are as human as anyone. Patients need to realize that when considering a lawsuit. Doubtless, there are legitimate malpractice events, but frivolous claims place everyone in jeopardy.

A group of Warren physicians recently took a full-page ad in the Tribune addressing this issue. It was done in a very professional manner, but the bottom line was that the craze of malpractice suits is jeopardizing the cost and quality of heath care. Who wants to submit to additional ''tests'' for every little thing? But I understand the mentality of the doctor, who is covering himself against possible legal repercussions. If the trend continuous, I wonder how many physicians will ''risk'' serious procedures.

A recent Ziggy cartoon has him sitting in the examination room; his doctor appears, and says, ''How about some surgery? I'm feeling lucky today!'' Cute quip, but not really funny.

Doctors get sick, and funeral directors die. Whose fault is that? It's a fact of life, with no one to blame. Life is not fair--stuff happens. As a rule, insurance companies do not cover ''acts of God,'' a term for natural unpreventable disasters. The desire to sue others who have no ill intent is just another form of selfish entitlement. Suing one's mother for $100 on a TV court show illustrates the pitiful condition of a greedy and misguided society.

Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at



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