In a U.S. News & World Report column about frivolous lawsuits, owner Mort Zuckerman serves up a couple of doozies:
“A woman throws a soft drink at her boyfriend at a restaurant, then slips on the floor she wet and breaks her tailbone. She sues. Bingo — a jury says the restaurant owes her $100,000! A woman tries to sneak through a restroom window at a nightclub to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She falls, knocks out two front teeth, and sues. A jury awards her $12,000 for dental expenses.”
Great stuff — and, unfortunately for Zuckerman, totally bogus. Two Web sites — StellaAwards.com and Snopes.com — say the cases of the soda-slipping Pennsylvania woman and the window-wriggling Delaware woman are fabricated, and no public records could be found for them.
Zuckerman has plenty of company. A number of newspapers and columnists have touted the phantom cases since they surfaced in 2001 in a Canadian newspaper.
Ken Frydman, Zuckerman’s spokesman, did not dispute that the pair of cases in the column two weeks ago were imaginary, but would not address whether the magazine will publish a retraction.
“These cases were reported in a variety of other reputable publications, such as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the London Telegraph, and Mr. Zuckerman could have cited dozens of other cases,” Frydman says. “Few Americans would disagree with the proposition that there are far too many frivolous lawsuits filed.”
In a letter to the magazine, Mary Alexander, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, chides Zuckerman for using “phony, nonexistent lawsuits that have been widely exposed as ‘urban myths’ to justify his assault on our legal system.”
Does anyone remember when President Clinton was accused of selling plots in Arlington Cemetery? (Especially read this.) When the story was shown to be fabricated (it was in a Moonie magazine – Insight) one pundit wrote that it was a justified story because it “sounded like something Clinton could have done.”
Totally fabricated “news” reports are OK, because they fit the line that someone is paying to drive into the public mind. Would it be interesting if we learned that the same people (search for “tort”) who are behind the anti-Clinton efforts were also funding the tort reform movement?
By the way, why is this Zuckerman story fabrication somehow different from that Blair did at the NY Times? Why are ANY of the reporters and pundits who went after Clinton still employed?