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Hot Coffee and Common Sense

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On: Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 7:16AM | By: Karen Cook

Hot Coffee and Common Sense

It all started when a woman spilled hot coffee in her lap, which she had just ordered at a drive thru, and held the restaurant responsible for her burns. We know she didn’t order an iced coffee and we can be reasonably sure from what we know of her that she would have been miffed if the coffee had been cool. I think this was the beginning of the end of personal responsibility. This seems to be a recurring theme with me. It’s important, though.

Recently in New Jersey several courts had to rule on whether or not an accident caused by a driver reading a text was solely the driver’s fault or also the fault of the person who sent him the text. I’m concerned when I hear of these sorts of suits because I’m paying the people who hear them. Of course I feel for the victims in this case. There were two and they lost their legs. It was tragic and I believe the other driver should pay the maximum penalty for his negligence. But only him. It was his decision to read the incoming text. The person who sent it had no way to force him to read or respond to it. Drivers put themselves voluntarily into a position of holding the lives of others in their hands every time they get behind the wheel. How did we get so flippant about this massive decision? Have we forgotten that we have the capability when driving to change our lives and the lives of others with each choice we make?

While the victims deserve adequate compensation for this horrible injury, we have to hold them responsible for the frivolous lawsuit on the sender of the text. How have we become a society that looks to every possible source for financial vengeance? Do the courts really have a duty to hear cases like this? Whatever happened to common sense? The three appeals court judges who heard the case agreed with it in principle but only if it could be proven that the sender knew the recipient was driving (which, of course, couldn’t be proven one way or another). Really? Even if it could have been or can be proven, the sender does not have control over the driver. And it’s the driver’s own fault if he spills hot coffee in his lap while reading a text.


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