Friday, January 11, 2008

The Insane Price Of Pain And Suffering

Frivolous lawsuits. They suck. People are greedy beyond what I have ever imagined. And we wonder why our country and society is the way it is. Well, Hurricane Katrina's victims have put a price tag on their suffering and it is staggering - including one plaintiff seeking the unlikely and totally insane sum of over $3 quadrillion. That's the mother of all high numbers!

A whopping $3,014,170,389,176,410 is the dollar figure so far sought from some of the largest claims filed against the federal government over damage from the failure of levees and flood walls following the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane. Of roughly 489,000 total claims, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it has received 247 for at least $1 billion apiece, including the one for $3 quadrillion. For the sake of perspective: A mere $1 quadrillion would dwarf the U.S. gross domestic product, which Scott said was $13.2 trillion in 2007. A stack of one quadrillion pennies would reach Saturn.

Some residents may have grossly exaggerated their claims to send a message to the corps, which has accepted blame for poorly designing the failed levees. The corps released zip codes, but no names, for the 247 claims of at least $1 billion. The list includes a $77 billion claim by the city of New Orleans. Fourteen involve a wrongful death claim. Fifteen were filed by businesses, including several insurance companies.

Little is known about the person who claimed $3 quadrillion. It was filed in Baker, 93 miles northwest of New Orleans. Baker is far from the epicenter of Katrina's destruction, but the city has a trailer park where hundreds of evacuees have lived since the storm. And heck, you know what a trailer costs nowadays. If we calculate in the actual cost, plus the time it takes to find one that will not withstand the next big storm, plus the pain and suffering of having to live in a trailer, plus the amount of beer and fried prok skins that are necessary for the person to achieve a full emoitional recovery, I'd say the figure is around $1.23 million. And that depends on if its a beer-drinkin' or moonshine-drinkin' family!

This is what gets me about these lawsuits. I understand the anger. I understand it's a negotiating tactic. There's no easy way on earth you can figure out or calculate the personal loss. The trauma these people have undergone is unlike anything that has occurred in the history of our country. But guess what. It will happen again. And if we continue to let crappy lawsuits like this affect our justice system, it will eventually grind to a halt...not just a slow-down like we're seeing today. Welcome to our've just Discovered Insanity!