Thursday, January 20, 2011

Does she really want to go there?

A few days ago we examined the perils of over-concentration on texting. The article featured a video clip of a woman who wasn't paying paying attention to where she was going in a shopping mall. She fell into a fountain while she was texting a message.

The woman in question has now come forward . . . with a lawyer. The Daily Mail reports:

CCTV footage of Cathy Marrero failing to notice that she was walking straight into a pool of water became a YouTube hit after being watched by 1.5 million people.

But the 49-year-old, revealing her identity for the first time, says she doesn't find the video very funny and plans to take the mall in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania to court after accusing staff of laughing instead of helping her out of the water.

. . .

The video was posted with commentary by what is believed to be laughing mall employees who watched the video over and over.

Mrs Marrero said she was left mortified by the incident.

‘My issue is I don't think security was professional because they didn't send anyone to check on me until 20 minutes later and I had already left,’ she told the Reading Eagle.

‘Instead of laughing, they should have said, 'Is she OK?' and been down there right away to check on me.'

There's more at the link.

I'm not sure that mall security has any 'duty of care' under these circumstances, where the accident was entirely the fault of the victim. Ms. Marrero might have a case for breach of privacy, although whether one has any expectation of privacy in a public place is highly debatable. The security guards who released the video on YouTube may well face some sort of disciplinary action, for breaching client confidentiality, but even that's doubtful.

I think Ms. Marrero would do better to chalk it up to experience, and learn to laugh at herself. After all, the rest of the world is already doing so! She's not helping herself with her protestations, IMHO.



Anonymous said...

Not to mention that if she hadn't come forward no one would even know it was her!!! Moron, I bet she drives and texts to, hope she has a good lawyer when she kills someone while texting and driving.

joe said...

Looks like she made it out of the water on her own pretty quickly. About the time the guard realized what happened (if they were even watching that particular monitor) she was on her way, obviously unhurt. Looks like she found someone with deep pockets and she's settlement shopping.

Dirk said...

If that was me, the last thing I'd do is identify myself! And, are we really sure it was her in the video? The quality was pretty poor - it could have been anyone!

Shrimp said...

Gosh, I wished I still lived in PA and could get to be on that jury. Not only would I spend the entire time giggling and pointing at her, but I'd probably find the mall staff liable, vote in her favor, and give her the award of one dollar for their behavior.

She can't complain, because she won, and the mall can't really complain because $1 won't hurt them at all. The lawyers will cost them regardless of whether they win or lose. And if she wins, she can't appeal the decision. And she has to pay her slimeball lawyer.

All such ridiculous lawsuits should meet such an end.

Moshe Ben-David said...

Breach of privacy debatable? WHAT?

It's a mall, for crying out loud. I fail to see how it could be any more public than that.

And no, Shrimp, what we have needed for a long time is a "loser pays" system, with intelligent people not finding ways to get off the jury so we can make people like that woman not only MORE embarrassed, but poorer for having to pay the mall's lawyers as well as lawyers who themselves are too stupid to not explain to her why she doesn't have a case.

Just remember that extra dollars you pay for products and services are in part because of crap like this.

Shrimp said...

The only problem I have with the "loser pays" system is that our so-called justice sytem has let loose a few decisions that makes one scratch their head in wonder at how anyone could have come to such a conclusion. What happens when one has a legitimate complaint, a legimitate suit against someone or some corporation, but can't file it because they are broke, or won't file it because they could lose and end up utterly broke? Justice is just as wrongly served there.

Granted, it would definitely slow down the spate of frivilous lawsuits that seem eternally ours. I just don't think it much more just than our current system.

I much prefer the idea that the losing attorneys do not get paid--at all. After all, what service did they provide? A lost court case? An empty chair could provide the same. Win the case or get nothing.

To me, the biggest problem we face is, as you mentioned, the least desirable jury members being the ones who routinely seem to find their way to the jury box.

Shrimp said...

Oh, BTW, she decided that she doesn't want to sue the mall now. She just wants an apology.

Gee, I wonder if her repeated brushes with the law (for identity theft and retail theft, and a hit and run) had anything to do with her sudden change of heart.

LMB said...

All this is is just an attempt to snarf some money out of the mall because she's all butthurt over going viral. She might oughta just shut up, let it fade, and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

Moshe Ben-David said...

So, let me get this straight, Shrimp. Because there might be lawsuits not brought (I seriously doubt that), you don't like "loser pays."

Really good cases will still have attorneys who will take them on contingency basis. What would stop happening is lawyers harrassing people with all of the out-of-court litigation techniques if the stakes were raised to the possibility of costing some real money other than lost time in depositions, research and filing paperwork.

So, no, Shrimp, your argument simply sounds like the stuff I hear from members of the trial lawyers' association. I'm not buying it.

It isn't that the losing attorneys didn't get paid, it's what they cost everybody else in the system for playing. It's in all the costs of tying up public courts and delaying justice to worthy plaintiffs, in costing the parties who had to pay attorneys for just defending them against baseless charges. It's in all the ways it costs society as a whole. There is a much bigger picture here.

Shrimp said...

I still don't like it. You say that there will be trial lawyers that will take cases on a contingency basis, but there aren't enough of those now*, so why will there suddenly be more? Because there will be less law suits brought? Is that what you are saying, or do I misunderstand?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying loser pays will not work. I'm saying that it seems to me that loser pays isn't going to get the results you say.

In loser pays, the lawyers will still always get paid, no matter what. They will always have an incentive to go sue someone. If they don't get paid unless they win, it makes it far less likely for them to take ridiculous cases.

That said, I'm not opposed to trying loser pays, because what we have now has its fair share of problems.

Of course, none of it matters what you or I think. Unless we can convince our respective elected vermin to change the laws, it won't matter and it won't change.

*Go read and read through the dozens upon dozens of 4th and 1st amendment violation cases that have pretty much everything needed except a lawyer willing to work on a contingency to sue a particular police department or a group of officers who have violated someone's rights.