Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thomas Paine Wouldn't Recognize the Place

Some background: When I'm not looking for the exit door out of the inadvertant circus I attend on a daily basis, I sell stuff that we make to the general medical industry. Fair enough. Our stuff is used by serious, sober adults with lots more college than most who really, one would hope, have a better handle on things than most as well.

I used to think that about a lot professions and, over time, I've been taken down a notch when reality intercedes. There was one epiphany when I realized that army generals, the ones with orders to fire nuclear weapons, have to use the bathroom. That was no good. These guys weren't inherently any different from me and for weeks I worried about incoming while some four-star was hitching his pants up and re-pinning his medals. I'm almost over that.

But I'm holding on to the fantasy when it comes to the general medical industry. I'm going to believe that these good people do in fact have more skill and power of concentration than I do and don't, as I do, look up from their work in mid-task and lose their train of thought entirely wondering if they've unplugged the iron.

The things we make have to meet certain standards of quality and we work hard to hit them. We don't want them going ker-blooey or pop if they're not meant to. We take liability seriously and that's why I was on a call a few days ago about product safety. We identified certain products we make as being particulary vulnerable to safety concerns, particularly when it came to children.


Might I remind you that if any of our stuff winds up in the hands of children, somebody's being a very bad boy or girl indeed. And in fact I tried to make that point but was shouted down.

"Well, children might come into contact with it."

Children might come into contact with Buick transaxle assemblies as well, but I'm hoping to hell that Buick isn't looking at a continuous velocity joint made from Nerf toys or gummy bears.

"It can be attractive to children."

Many things are. Most things that are brightly colored are very attractive to children. Thats why the safest place to be away from children this year is any Pottery Barn retail store.

"They can put it in their mouth."

They do. Most anything. Watch a child some day. There's not a thing on the planet that they don't put in their mouth. If you don't keep an eye on them, they'll put rattlesnakes in their mouth. And that's where the gist of my argument comes from.

I appreciate that things are attractive to children. I appreciate that they put things in their mouth. But goodness, how can we possibly manage our downstream with that consideration if our stuff is, and I'm going to repeat myself, mean't explicitly for adults and adults only and has parental, societal and indeed physical obstacles between it and children?

Aha. Therein lies the rub.

"Your honor, it's not my fault (never is), I turned my back on Jeffy for just a minute and he put it in his mouth. It's dangerous."

"Indeed. It is a rattlesnake after all."

"Yes, and whoever made it needs to be responsible."

"Let me subpoena God."

Everybody knows we need tort reform. Even the lightest of statutes. Something like the "Aw, come on now" ammendment to grand jury selection. When deciding the merits of a potential case, at the very least, somebody in the court should have the legal obligation to say "Aw, come on now" out loud at least once.

I'm a little more draconian. I'm redressing for a full-blown third verdict. Something to accompany the classic "guilty" or "not guilty." And not a Specteresque sudden invocation of Scottish law. That's fine if you're trying the president on charges of bad piping but otherwise, try to stick to our Constitution, Arlen. It's kind of worked well over the years. No, I'm for a third verdict, one of "Fuck you" for the most eggregious cases of legal tomfoolery that clogs up our courts such that current prosecuting attorneys will have been dead for ten years before they get over their backlog of appeals.

Think of it: "Your honor, the jury finds for the defendant a verdict of fuck you."

What can that mean?

Legally, the case has so little merit it doesn't rate a game of "Let's all pretend" in kindergarten. Specifically the plaintiff lodging the original complaint should be liable for all court and legal costs for both sides and should be forced to say "Gosh, I'm awful sorry about all this" in open court.

Never happen.

I was seated on a jury hearing a personal injury case a few years ago. And this is where I first developed the idea of this third verdict. Without going into specifics, the causality of the case was about the same as getting a nosebleed because a complete stranger in the next county has reversed the charges on a long distance call.

"Thats it? That's all the testimony has to offer? We've all pasted our asses into these uncomfortable chairs for all this time for that bag of nonsense?"

Hey, everybody deserves his or her day to be heard but I deserve to render a judgement of "Fuck you" just to teach them a lesson.

But go ahead, take me to court about it.

Bunny on.


Blogger Jeni said...

I'm thinking now of all the work that originated from the McDonald's Hot Coffee case when the manufacturers of those disposable cups had to find ways to produce a product that would prevent people from drinking hot coffee and not spill it or burn their lips or tongue.
You're right on in this logic though -least ways, you got my vote here! Good thing I've never served on a jury trial of any type cause at times I've been know to have a bit of the quick-draw middle fingers syndrome ya know.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Ericka said...

i LOVE that idea! can we make one of the consequences of the third verdict either death or sterilization? we do not want those people breeding.

one of my engineering classes spent quite a bit of time on the liability and trying to idiot-proof everything you do, with examples. my favorite was the one about the boneheads who were using suspended metal plates (which would, when construction was complete, hold the air conditioning units) as a swing set during break and ended up plummeting 30+ feet to the ground when the chains broke. they sued, and won, by claiming that the engineer should have known that if they used chain to suspend the plates, someone would use it for a swing and therefore should have chosen stronger chains. *headdesk*

11:43 PM  

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