Ever since I read about the woman who was awarded a huge settlement after spilling hot coffee in her lap, I’ve been trying to jump on that bandwagon. There must be somebody I can sue.

I read about a Florida man who sued a topless club, claiming that an exotic dancer gave him whiplash when she bumped into him with her enormous breasts. The dancer, who called herself Tawny Peaks, slammed her size 60-HH bust into his head. Said the victim, “It was like two cement blocks hit me.” He sued the club for $15,000 for the experience.

A Washington man, who claims that a lifetime of drinking whole milk caused him to develop clogged arteries and suffer a stroke, sued dairy farmers and milk retailers. The man, who described himself as a milk-a-holic, wants warning labels on dairy products and in ads.

Three natives of Yemen filed a lawsuit against NASA for trespassing on Mars, which they claim to have inherited from their ancestors 3,000 years ago, proving that you don’t even have to be sane to file suit.

Frivolous lawsuits have greatly contributed to the rising costs of doing business in this country. Those costs are eventually passed on to consumers. As a result, American businesses have gone to great (and sometimes ridiculous) lengths to avoid being sued. It would be reassuring to think that American business owners take necessary safety precautions strictly out of some sense of altruistic concern for the American public, but let’s face it, their biggest motivator is fear that a lawsuit could cripple of destroy their business.

It wasn’t until my husband and I vacationed in a foreign country, where lawsuits are rare, that I became aware of the one positive outcome of America’s penchant to drag manufacturers through the court system: It has made this country a safer place to live.

While sunning myself on a far-away beach, I watched hapless tourists being strapped to huge kites, which were towed out to sea by motor boats. Unlike America, no warnings were given and no disclaimers signed. A few of the kite riders were dragged face-first across the sand for several yards before the boat picked up enough speed to achieve lift-off. I noticed this was more likely with the chubbier tourists, hence my decision to forego this form of amusement. I had no desire to have my features sandpapered off my face. The boat was launched right off the heavily poplulated beach, its motor churning, the whirling propeller narrowly missing the bobbing heads of inattentive swimmers. For the swimmers, it was like taking a job as the light bulb changer in the ceiling fan department at the local home improvement store.

The next day of our trip we signed up for a boat tour, which culminated in a snorkeling expedition around a small island. Again, this being a non-suing country, no warnings were given and no disclaimers signed. No one’s swimming abilities were questioned. A pile of life jackets were made available, but no one asked if we could swim or warned us of the depth of the water.

Tourists, many of who had been drinking all afternoon, lept off the boat, unattended by experienced divers or life guards. When the allotted time had expired, the tour guide yelled and gestured at the distant snorkelers. Then after a quick glance at the horizon for strays, he started the engine and headed for shore. “Shouldn’t you count heads or something?” asked one of the nervous tourists. “How do you know you haven’t left anybody behind?” The only reply from the native captain was a careless shrug.

The last morning of our trip, we awakened to the strong smell of smoke in the air. We ventured down to the hotel lobby, where we found another American tourist and asked if he knew where the smoke was coming from. He said there had been a fire on his floor during the night. No one warned them or woke them. He heard some commotion in the hallway and opened the door to find a crew of firemen rushing through the hall with firehoses. He and his wife took the stairs and left the hotel. At no time during the fire were any hotel residents notified or warned to evacuate.This never would have happened in America, because every resident (provided they survived the fire) would have sued the hotel, and likely won a huge settlement.

We survived our first trip out of America. As a matter of fact, it was our honeymoon, but for all I know, there may still be tourists snorkeling around that island wondering where the boat went and if anyone is going to come back and get them.


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