Jean Barker

Crazy Cases

2014-09-19 14:47

Jean Barker

America is famous for a lot of things. Movies. Hamburgers. Wars. Not-map-reading. And litigation. You can get sued for anything here, because speculative legal action is legal.

To put it another way, if the whole the whole Pistorius thing had gone down here, Oscar would probably be suing the builders because his bathroom door wasn't bulletproof.

I know someone here who always seems to be pursuing some sort of lawsuit against someone. It's pretty damn profitable for him (or her, I would rather not say, because I'm actually beginning to suspect he lives off these lawsuits and I'm always extra nice to him or her, just in case I'm next...

In case you didn't know, there's a whole industry in lawyers here who'll take your case “on spec”, in other words, for a share of profits if you sue successfully. So, people really cover their bases here. I noticed it for the first time when I joined a yoga class, and was required to sign a form confirming that I wouldn't sue should the “cat and cow” prove too much for my fragile system or something. I even had to give an emergency contact number.

Four years later, I'm guessing around 1 000 American businesses have my mom's number in South Africa. I wouldn't want to worry her, but I doubt I will, because she rarely answers her cellphone and I don't plan to die of yoga.

People go to crazy lengths here to protect themselves against lawyers. In one case, they go to crazy shortnesses. Stay with me...

You see, I recently learned that if you buy an electric drill (any electric drill) in the USA, it will be sold with a cord that is way, way too short for you to actually use the drill. You will have to buy an extension cord separately.

“Dafaq?”, you say?

Well, it's because they're worried that if the cord is too long, someone will drill through it, electrocute themselves, and sue them, or trip on it and stick the drill in someone else's head. So you have to buy the extension cord separately. That way, it's indisputably your fault if you die, because you modified the drill to make it a weapon of destruction. If those nutcase Republicans amend the constitution, I want drills with long cords included in the right to wield deadly arms. They'd be less dangerous than guns, and so much more fun.

Speaking of nutcase Republicans, my favourite suing of all has to be House Speaker John Boehner's recent plan to sue Obama for, get this, not implementing Obamacare fast enough.

Now this is kind of stupid, for two reasons. One, they're suing the President of the USA for using his executive authority because the Republican Congress made it impossible to get anything done any other way. Two, and this is the funniest reason: They're suing over the slow implementation of a law they opposed all along. If this actually goes ahead, let's hope the judge buys a drill, and a long extension cord, to drill a hole deep enough in Boehner's skull to access a thought pattern.

A few of my favourite Boehnerisms:

“The only way to get our economy going again and solve our budget problems is to get the economy moving.” Okay...

“It’s hard for me to imagine, that anyone in the intelligence areas would mislead us.” Erm...

“The president continues to blame anyone and everyone for the drought but himself.” Wtf?

Does this mean that if Boehner can't win the case against Obama on Obamacare implementation, he'll sue him for failing to control the weather? I guess it might be easier than getting the GOP to cooperate, but it's still an impossible undertaking.  

- Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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