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A dolphin, after feasting on careless zoo-goers.

A dolphin, after feasting on careless zoo-goers.

One of the stories that’s making it’s way around the interwebnet these days is about a woman suing the Brookfield Zoo, which I guess is in the Chicago area – for those who care about such things (I don’t!) – after slipping and falling near a dolphin exhibit.  The story is being held up, by those who are holding it up, as an example of yet another frivolous lawsuit in the order of the famous McDonalds hot coffee suit.

But hold on a minute, speedy.  Let’s not jump to conclusions.  Despite the McDonald’s hot coffee suit’s status as the king of bogus lawsuits, it turns out that it was actually a pretty legitimate case.  McDonalds was serving their coffee not just hot, but insanely hot.  The woman in question, Stella Liebeck, received 3rd degree burns over six percent of her body.  McDonalds had received numerous complaints about the danger of serving coffee at almost 200 degrees, but never acted.  Now there is an award named after Stella Liebeck – the Stella Award – for frivolous lawsuits.  Seems unfair to me. 

As for this woman suing over the dolphin splashing, I’m not sure what to think.  On the one hand, it’s easy to say sure, there are dolphins, they splash, the area will be wet and slippery.  That’s life.  On the other hand, if zoo management knows the area is wet and slippery, shouldn’t they take precautions?  Put up signs, etc?  You can legitimately ask how far we have to go with these signs, of course.  Should there be signs at beaches warning: Use of beach may cause sandiness?

I don’t know.  I do think it is interesting how quick everyone is to get worked up over what they perceive to be a bogus law suit.  Why does that get everyone’s proverbial (or literal) goat?  As the corporate take-over or the planet nears its competition, it is worth considering that the law suit is one of the last remaining forms of redress available to the ordinary citizen.  I say we should embrace it.

None of this even addresses the problem of dolphins being criminally contained in a pool, slowly driven mad as their sonar bounces off the walls.  We’ll save that for another rant.

3 Responses to “”

  1. Sheldon Stone says:

    Dear Mr. Liss,

    The boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Percolated coffee is prepared with boiled water. I don’t think that serving coffee 12 degrees below that temperature is unreasonable and certainly not “insanely hot.” People drink newly percolated coffee all the time and should anticipate that freshly prepared coffee would be quite hot, and any sane person would be careful about handling it, and not blame others for his or her clumsiness.

    I have read all of your books, having received your much anticipated “The Devil’s Company” on its day of publication from Amazon. I recommend your books to everyone who will listen to me because I enjoy them so much for various reasons: You write the English language like an educated man, unlike many authors I’ve read; the stories are interesting with many unexpected twists and turns of plot; the reader (me) learns more about the historical eras you describe than by reading the usual history books; you include Jewish characters in all of the books.

    Like many people, I especially appreciate the Benjamin Weaver books and “The Coffee Trader,” and hope you will write similar books in the future–soon, I hope.

    Sheldon Stone

  2. Rebecca Turner says:

    Can’t wait for the “dolphin being driven mad” rant.
    It’s borderline disgusting. Not quite disgusting, but almost.

  3. Anja says:

    Humans are not the only species on the planet. We just act like it.

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