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Frivolous Suits--and Awards--Are an Insurance Liability

June 06, 1993

People wondering about the cause of the nation's problem of escalating liability insurance costs need look no further than "Slip-and-Fall Suit Against Mall Settled" (May 14).

For those who did not catch this very small article, it was about a woman who received a $200,000 settlement because she had slipped and fallen while walking in South Coast Plaza. She sued not only the mall but also the janitorial service responsible for cleaning the floor and--at this point, no surprise--even the manufacturer of the shoes she was wearing when she fell.

Not only do I find it very difficult to believe that anybody other than the woman involved was to blame for her stumbling, but even if we, for purposes of this discussion, assume that the mall was in fact to blame in some sort of way for this mishap, I have yet to meet a person--even a lawyer--who can explain the rationale behind these outrageous amounts of money awarded to people to compensate for very minor accidents.

We live in an imperfect world. Walking and slipping is a fact of life that most of us have been through without expecting lifelong compensation from bystanders.

The message that this settlement, and others like it, sends to the rest of us is that you will be amply rewarded when you choose not to take responsibility for your own actions and instead blame every conceivable party other than yourself.

Liability insurance is required by law for many businesses to operate. The increasing cost of insurance that these businesses must pay for is, in turn, passed on to you and me--consumers--in the form of higher prices for goods and services. Because of this, awards of this kind are a crime against the whole community.



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