Summary: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth seemed rather fair but Jesus had a better, more difficult way to settle things.
As some of you remembered back in May, four weeks before my very first cruise, I fell at the local Y injuring my shoulder. What followed was accident reports being filed, doctor visits, ex-rays, MRIs, and the diagnosis of shoulder surgery. Looking on the internet I was discovering the cost was to be between $25,000 to $50,000. The insurance company felt they were not fully liable and would settle for $5000 in medical bills. Needless to say I contacted an attorney.
He began to talk about suing for negligence and pain and suffering. My goal was just for them to agree on paying all of the doctor bills. He informed me to keep my arm in a sling at all times including while I was on the cruise. The problem was my arm did not bother me unless I tried to raise it over my head. I did not want to be uncomfortable while on the cruise so I did not wear the sling. Pictures on Facebook upset him very much. And as some you remember the surgery was not necessary due to the healing touch of Jesus. I was compensated for the $500 in medical care that was billed to me.
People tend to go crazy with the idea of getting rich through frivolous lawsuits. I spent an afternoon reading some examples and was fascinated with some of them. Let me share three with you.
A volunteer fireman was responding to a fire with his light bar on. He was driving slowly due to the snow that was falling. He approached a T intersection where he was planning on turning left. He noticed a vehicle approaching from his left. Since the other vehicle had the right of way, he stopped 10’ short of the stop sign. The driver of the other vehicle slammed on his brakes, left the roadway, and ran over some bushes before slamming into the fireman’s stopped vehicle. The fireman was sued for being “negligently stopped” because the other driver expected him to run the stop sign which would have been illegal. This was a contributory factor to the accident. The fireman’s insurance paid the claim to settle out of court.
Another interesting case was the Bodine lawsuit. On the night of March 1, 1982 Ricky Bodine a 19 year old along with three other friends decided to steal a floodlight from the roof of the Enterprise High School Gymnasium. Ricky climbed the roof, removed the floodlight, and lowered it to the ground. As he was walking across the roof, he fell through the skylight, suffering terrible injuries. His injuries left him a quadriplegic. Since the accident occurred on school property, the school system was sued for $8 million. The lawsuit was settled for a sum of $260,000 plus Ricky would receive $1200 a month for life.
And of course the lawsuit that many have pointed to as the most frivolous lawsuit, Liebeck vs. McDonalds for the hot coffee spill. In 1994 79 year old Stella Liebeck was with her son when they stopped at a McDonalds drive-thru for coffee. She placed the cup between her legs as she took off the lid to add cream and sugar. When her son accelerated, she crushed the Styrofoam cup and spilt 190 degree coffee between her legs. She suffered third degree burns, spent eight days in the hospital, and two years of medical treatment including skin grafts.
In the lawsuit against McDonalds it was argued that the temperature of the coffee served was extreme. The coffee in coffee makers at home is set at a temperature of 140 degrees.
McDonald’s argument was that the coffee was heated at 10 degrees to retain its heat until arriving at the location where it would be consumed. The cup was clearly labeled that the contents were hot.
Mrs. Liebeck’s hospitalization cost $18,000. The jury granted her $160,000 to cover the $18,000 hospital bill plus $2.7 million in punitive damages. The trial judge reduced that settlement to $640,000. The case was ultimately decided out of court for a non-disclosed amount.
In a two year span premiums for malpractice insurance for doctors rose by 15%. The insurance premium is currently between $15,000 and $36,000 annually. This has resulted in older rural physicians retiring and a decrease in the desire for younger doctors to become a rural physician.
Lawsuits have gotten out of control and we are all affected. When God delivered his people from Egypt He gave them laws to live by in order for them to function as a society. They can be found in Exodus chapters 20-23. Don’t panic. We are not going to read all 4 chapters. Rather I want us to read Exodus 21:22-25.
“Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve. But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.”