Abuse. It’s defined as a corrupt practice or the improper and excessive use of something. Like when a man blows up his own home and then abuses the law to make his gas company pay $15 million for the injuries he caused to his own family. Or when a woman sues her own mother for negligence after tripping in the yard and breaking her ankle while her ailing parent was being loaded into an ambulance. Or when a father takes his daughter’s school to court for more than $1 million after he left her alone in the kitchen while she was cooking beans during a parish fair.
These are just a few of the cases highlighted in this year’s first annual list of the Top Ten Craziest Lawsuits from Louisiana. Some of these lawsuits are so silly they would be funny, if they weren’t so serious. These cases are outrageous. They are expensive. And they illustrate the abuse that’s taking place across our state and across the country as similar scenarios are repeated hundreds of times each day.
Given that it’s the holiday season and almost time to ring in the New Year, Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch is taking a moment to take stock on 2011. During Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, which is December 12- 16, LLAW is highlighting the Top Ten list and encouraging everyone to vote for their favorite most outrageous lawsuit. A complete list of nominees is available online at www.LLAW.org. Voters can also participate through FaceBook and Twitter, so log on and let us know what you think.
Just remember, while many of these cases may seem too ridiculous to be true—they are all real suits that have real consequences. The million-dollar payouts and the costs to our judicial system are all too real. And even if a frivolous lawsuit results in no award to the person suing, it can still cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in the courtroom to defend. When someone is truly wronged, a lawsuit can bring needed justice, but when our legal system is abused, we all pay and we all lose.
Melissa Landry is Executive Director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, a non-partisan, non-profit citizens’ watchdog group dedicated to raising awareness about the negative impact of lawsuit abuse and its costs to Louisiana workers, consumers, taxpayers and small businesses. Learn more at www.llaw.org.