Benjamin Franklin once observed: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If Ben were alive today, he would probably add a third certainty to his list – the filing of ridiculous lawsuits. Here are just a couple recent doozies:
Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner – A retiree in New York has sued Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) for $20 million, claiming KFC falsely and misleadingly advertised its $20 “Fill Up” bucket as overflowing with chicken. Miffed when she discovered that her bucket was only half full, the plucky senior apparently decided she’d had enough of “not enough” and sued. Perhaps blinded by hunger, plaintiff failed to notice the menu’s clear directive that the bucket only contained eight pieces (which it did). But with $20 million on the line, you can bet your last drumstick that the feathers are going to fly in court.
Hand it Over and No One Gets Hurt – A 76 year old Florida lawyer is suing a 60 year old lawyer for injuries he claims he sustained from a negligent handshake at a kid’s birthday party. You read that right. The ailing attorney contends the defendant squeezed his hand with such force that it caused severe pain, requiring treatment by medical specialists. In an admirable homage to Attorney Jackie Chiles of Seinfeld fame, the lawsuit alleges the handshake was “unexpected, unprovoked, uninvited, unauthorized, uncalled for, and most certainly negligent.” Somehow they left out “unforgiveable” and “unbecoming.” Naturally, as a “triple threat” (plaintiff, lawyer and Floridian) the plaintiff is seeking $100,000 or, as he advised the local press, “as much as [he] can get” for past and future pain and suffering. Stay tuned to see if the jury high fives him or slaps his wrist.
As I sometimes remind my employer clients dealing with challenging personnel issues, “it’s all fun and games until someone gets sued.” It takes only one disgruntled employee to “air grievances” (another hat tip to Seinfeld) and cause major financial and emotional stress.
Thus, employers would be wise to heed Ben Franklin’s other sage advice that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and periodically review their employment practices, policies and work environments in order to avoid becoming the next litigation target.