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Woman gets drunk, crashes, sues boss successfully
February 6, 2001 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Woman gets drunk, crashes, sues boss successfully A Toronto woman has been awarded CAN$300,000 in a landmark suit. She sued her boss for throwing an office party from which the woman drove home drunk. I am ashamed to be Canadian and I hope that fucking lady gets run down in the street like a dog.
posted by tweek (43 comments total)

 
"fucking lady gets run down in the street like dog"

whaaaa?

don't beat around the bush, dude, say it like you really mean it.
posted by dante at 3:22 PM on February 6, 2001


A little harsh, methinks.
posted by waxpancake at 3:27 PM on February 6, 2001


Don't be ashamed tweek. That is not nearly as bad as the guy in England who got sent to prison for killing a burgler in his own home.
posted by thirteen at 3:28 PM on February 6, 2001


But it's not like she drove home right after leaving the party. If that were the case, and she got into the accident right after she left, then I would find more fault with the employer for not realizing how drunk she was or not physically stopping her from getting into a car. However, she took it upon herself to go to a bar after the party, have a few more drinks, and then get back on the road. At that point, I gotta believe the boss should no longer be held responsible.
posted by rklawler at 3:37 PM on February 6, 2001


Huh.

I thought the United States Justice system owned the trademark on FUBAR situations like that.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 3:40 PM on February 6, 2001


thirteen: Well, considering you haven't given the circumstances under which the guy killed the burglar, I think this lawsuit is a little worse. Was he doing it in self-defense? Did the burglar threaten his life? Or was it just some cat burglar coming in to steal some A/V equipment? A link would be nice. Thanks.

As for the article we're supposed to be talking about... Yes, quite disgusting. I thought this kind of stuff only happened in America, and it shames me to be a Canadian. :(

And how can a court find her "75% responsible" for the accident? How the hell do you quantify that? So does that mean her boss is responsible for the other 25%? In that case, if her boss owes her $300k, then she owes $900k (considering she's responsible for 3x the amount of the acccident) to someone too, no? I think that's how it should work. She should donate $900k to MADD or Counterattack, or some sort of charity against drunk driving. That's her punishment for driving drunk. But no... she's "ecstatic" that she's going to receive a big fat fuckin' cheque.

I think it's sick she tried to sue her boss and won. But getting run over would be a bit harsh. Maybe getting hit by a drunk driver and being paralyzed for life would be something more appropriate... and deserving. Then everything would come full circle... Hoping to see that article posted on MeFi sometime int he near future.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 3:40 PM on February 6, 2001


Her boss "ought to have foreseen that by maintaining an open and unsupervised bar, he would be incapable of monitoring the alcohol consumption of his employee, which led her into the danger in question . . . "

Her boss would have warned her about the dangers of driving drunk, but he was too busy sanding down all the sharp corners in his apartment, prechewing all the dangerously lumpy food, and putting up posters reading "I'M A WALL! DON'T WALK INTO ME!" So he forgot.
posted by Skot at 3:44 PM on February 6, 2001


Dude, isn't 300K Canadian like a buck thirty in US dollars? Outside that, this reeks of the old battle axe that got a couple of mil from MickeyD's (McDonalds for the rurals reading this) when the Hot Coffee she ordered was too hot and burned her.

Im going to make a career out of getting money by exploiting the blatantly obvious.
posted by MrJacko at 3:45 PM on February 6, 2001


Sorry PWA_BadBoy. I stole this from Metafilter's archives, and I did not read it over. That is as unbiased as you can get.
posted by thirteen at 3:52 PM on February 6, 2001


Thanks for the link... Hmm.. Shot like rats in a trap. I guess if he honestly knew that he was in no immediate danger, then that's pretty rough... but what if it was dark, and he couldn't make out the dark figures in his house.. I think some people might react impulsively if they find burglars in their house. And considering " a householder could use reasonable force to defend themselves from burglary. " is a not very well defined statement, I can see why there might have been problems there.

But I really think this whole winning a lawsuit when you are the one who was involved in a drunk driving accident is disgusting. Just to parallel the two issues, it would have been like the guy who shot the burglar getting off scott free and then given the winning numbers to next week's Super 7. Disgusting.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 4:00 PM on February 6, 2001


I would have to say if a person is breaking into my house, I'm going to have to kill them if I have the means to do so. In other words, stay the hell out of my house unless I invite you in. The kid got what he had coming, I don't think the guy should be in prison at all for killing him.
posted by howa2396 at 4:09 PM on February 6, 2001


Damn Canadians ;)

Seriously now though. I like tweek's idea, but I agree we should add the "by a drunk driver" at the end of it. I hate people who whore out the legal system like this and actually succeed. Do these people have no sense of personal responsiblity? How can this woman live with herself. How can anyone she has ever met actually respect her? How can her parents respect her? It's sick.
posted by swank6 at 4:13 PM on February 6, 2001


Did the burglar threaten his life? Or was it just some cat burglar coming in to steal some A/V equipment? - PWA_BadBoy

Resident: "Excuse me, since you've broken into my house, I need to know if you plan to hurt me or would you just like to steal my stuff and move on?"

Burgular: "Oh, actually I'm planning to kill you."

Resident: "OK, thanks for clearing that up, guess I'll go ahead and defend myself." BLAM!

(I doubt it goes like that very often.)
posted by Tubes at 4:17 PM on February 6, 2001


This is presumably to follow that case in which a Canadian crack addict sued his drug dealers for failing to exercise due care over his condition...
posted by tobyslater at 4:32 PM on February 6, 2001


Tubes: That's not what I meant, but obviously, if it's just some punk ass kid breaking in, you flip the lights on, point your gun at him, tell him to put his hands up and he stops dead in his tracks and puts his hands up... I think shooting him at that point is bit excessive, no?

But what I was saying was, dark shadowy figure running around in your house that you're sure doesn't belong there, then yeah, by all means, fire off a few shots. You never know if they'll have a gun on them.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 4:36 PM on February 6, 2001


In Arizona you're supposed to shoot to kill, if someone breaks into your home.
posted by crushed at 4:54 PM on February 6, 2001


I think if someone breaks into your house, you should be allowed to tie them down, chop their head off, and throw it out the window.
posted by tweek at 5:08 PM on February 6, 2001


Can her former boss appeal? Is that available in Canada? It sounds like the judge had a bias.
posted by amanda at 5:10 PM on February 6, 2001


Hunt sued...over permanent...brain injuries suffered in the collision.

Brain injuries...that explains a lot.

posted by jpoulos at 5:58 PM on February 6, 2001


Hm.. wouldn't she have to prove that the brain injuries were caused as a result of the accident? Maybe she was dropped on her head as a child!
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 6:12 PM on February 6, 2001


I can't imagine what the other driver involved in the collision thinks after this. :(
posted by moural at 6:57 PM on February 6, 2001


I used to live in a house with 9 people, all of whom are big WWF fans. We were just BEGGING for someone to break in to OUR place, let me tell you. I just want to give someone the swanton bomb off the top rope (or off the top of the refrigerator in our case)!
posted by Succa at 7:23 PM on February 6, 2001


I think that by law if a criminal breaks into your house and hurts himself on a sharp object you leave about, he can sue you for negligence. In my home town there was a party where two uninvited and unwanted people got into a fight. One of them was left permanently brain damaged. The homeowners were sued - successfully, merely because the fight happened on their property.
posted by xammerboy at 7:43 PM on February 6, 2001


Crap, lost a whole post here when I got a blank preview page ...

Summarized, this time:

PWA, if you're ever on a jury, you may HAVE TO decide on a percentage of liability among multiple defendants and the plaintiff. That's the way tort law works. It's not a "yes or no" decision.

amanda, what made you assume the judge was biased? There was almost nothing about her in the article. What don't we know about the case?

xammer, negligence law has a whole bunch of dicey little questions pertaining to what (at least here) is called the "duty of ordinary care" standard (there are other standards in use in other states or given situations). While an invitee is someone owed rather more care, an UNinvitee also places you subject to certain duties. A dangerous situation could just as easily injure an invitee, after all. What did those homeowners do about the uninvited guests? Did they stop serving alcohol? Did they ask them to leave? Did they call police? Or did they just wait until they got into a brawl? It's not just "they weren't invited, so you're off the hook". cf. Lee vs. Chicago Transit Authority: the drunk trespasser who pissed on the third rail, electrocuting himself. Under Illinois code at the time, we actually had one of the most relaxed standards in the US, and the CTA was found partly responsible. The law was later changed; that lawsuit would be much more difficult to bring today. But it doesn't eliminate liability entirely, because there are always new situations.
posted by dhartung at 8:49 PM on February 6, 2001


This sounds just like that woman who sued McD's for spilling tea or whatever on herself and successfully suing McD's. Man ... this is so screwed ..
posted by loong at 10:55 PM on February 6, 2001


amanda, yes he can appeal, and I believe he's planning on it. From an article in the Globe and Mail:

He said he will ask his insurance company to appeal the decision on grounds that Judge Marchand dismissed the jury in mid-trial.

The judge accepted a request from Ms. Hunt's lawyers to try the case without a jury because of the media glare and the complexity of the evidence.


posted by mzanatta at 1:02 AM on February 7, 2001


Re: the bloke who shot the burglars: I saw a documentary about this in which it was stated that, though it was indeed dark when the shooting occurred, the placing of the shots in the body, and the body itself, indicated that the burglar was trying to get away, through one of the windows, and was shot in the back at close range (a couple of metres, I think three). So I doubt that Mr Martin was particularly afraid for his safety - it seems more likely that he was enraged.
posted by Caffa at 1:49 AM on February 7, 2001


The Tony Martin case is renowned in Britain for being an example of Media Spin.

He shot the child as he was running away and then went looking for him through the grounds of his house which meant he hid and bled to death.

He lied through his teeth through the trial (the forensic evidence was fairly damning) He was not were he said he was and it was not so dark he couldn't see the fact the kid was running away.

Obviously, the kid shouldn't have been there, but we don't have the death penalty in Britain.

I just think it's a bad example of a "miscarriage of justice", especially considering us brits are so good at them.
posted by fullerine at 2:23 AM on February 7, 2001


To add a little extra context to the off-topic part of this thread: Fred Barras, the 16 year old murdered by Tony Martin, was a traveller, a fact not mentioned in the BBC article above, but clearly relevant in this case: Martin was notoriously anti-traveller ("Hitler had the right idea about the Gypsies"). 'Sfunny, the only BBC piece I can find that does mention Fred Barras' ethnicity is this one: Burglars were experienced criminals.

More context, from The Independent.
posted by ceiriog at 3:38 AM on February 7, 2001


The judge accepted a request from Ms. Hunt's lawyers to try the case without a jury because of the media glare and the complexity of the evidence.

In other words, Ms. Hunt's lawyers knew the media was having a field day telling the public what a ninny she was.

And how "complex" could this evidence have been?

"Me drink. Me drive. Me go 'boom.' Ooga."

To echo some of the other posters, I thought this type of crap was an American phenomenon. Apparently the "judicial idiot-proofing" trend has crept across the border. My condolences.

But you know what they say ... make something idiot-proof and they'll just build a bigger idiot.
posted by shauna at 4:08 AM on February 7, 2001


What none of the other Canadians here have pointed out is that if you have someone over and they get drunk you, the host, are responsible.

If you own a bar, and someone leaves drunk and gets in an accident, you are responsible. It's not a new law and it's why bars (theoretically) eventually refuse to serve people.

The article is no longer on the front page, and I don't feel like searching the crappy canoe.ca archives to find it, but I'm assuming there was some damage to things other than the suing lady. The suing lady definitely does not deserve to get money for driving drunk. It's stupid, it's irresponsible, and I hope the decision's repealed, but the host of the party should have to pay out some of the damages. Or, as someone above suggested, make a huge "donation" to various charities or something.
posted by cCranium at 5:30 AM on February 7, 2001


Not to say that I support frivolous lawsuits or anything, but the McDonald's coffee case that many people are citing here seems to have more to it than meets the eye. Basically says that McDonald's knowingly kept their coffee at temperatures that were far hotter than necessary:

He also testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above, and that McDonalds coffee, at the temperature at which it was poured into styrofoam cups, was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat.
posted by zempf at 8:05 AM on February 7, 2001


Here's Ms. Hunt's story in her own words.
posted by iceberg273 at 10:03 AM on February 7, 2001


Everybody wants frivolous lawsuits eliminated, until they suffer an injury.

The McDonald's woman WAS awarded an enormous sum by the jury, but never collected. The size of the award was intended to be a proportionally sufficient fine on a large corporation (i.e. mostly punitive damages). It was reduced by the judge, and while on appeal, the company settled with the woman for an undisclosed sum -- but probably much less money. She did not get $27 million. Maybe she got medical expenses. Maybe she got a card.
posted by dhartung at 10:29 AM on February 7, 2001


iceberg273: Of course the brain injuries must have made her forgot that she was DRUNK at the time of the accident. =P

Wow, she posted her e-mail addy. Time to send her a nice e-mail.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 11:41 AM on February 7, 2001


"The article is no longer on the front page, and I don't feel like searching the crappy canoe.ca archives to find it"

this is off topic slighty, but if you had searched the archives, you would see canoe.ca tries to charge $2.95 per archived article. a little pricey?

anyway, I grabbed ms. hunt's email and am also compelled to send her off a few questions.


posted by bliss322 at 12:34 PM on February 7, 2001


In-frikkin-credible. The McDonalds woman and the coffee IS a blatant example and DOES fit into this discussion. And she DID collect well over 3 Million. I can not say if she got a card or not.

140 degrees is hot, but tell that to my grandmother who could drink liquid steel and say it was too cold.
posted by MrJacko at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2001


Re: the McDonald's coffee case, a witness for the plaintiff testified that, in his expert opinion, the coffee was probably somewhere north of 155 degress. That's damn hot (though not, perhaps, as hot as the filling on those apple pies Mickey D's serves immediately, which has gotta be at boiling lead temperatures). You can read more about the case link through Zempf's link, if you want.

Question: If the woman hadn't gone to a bar to drink more after the party, do people feel that the employer would then be culpable?

Related question: When bars keep serving people drinks after it's clear that they're drunk, should they be legally responsible for harm and mayhem the drunk folks then commit?
posted by snarkout at 2:29 PM on February 7, 2001


$2.95 per article

Certainly too pricy for the sakes of knowing what I'm talking about in this conversation. :-) I'd toss a dime at 'em in a second, but 3 bucks for (from what I gather from the url) was originally a Toronto Sun article? Not likely.

Question: If the woman hadn't gone to a bar to drink more after the party, do people feel that the employer would then be culpable?

Of course, the downfall of not paying the archive fees is that I didn't know that. In that case, no, I don't think the employer's culpable. The bar takes on culpability at that point by a) letting the person in and b) serving the person. If the person was drunk when she got there, the bar should've refused entry.

As for the related question, the desire for money, bartenders who aren't properly aware of or concerned about their roles and responsibilties, and bartenders who are willing to throw away those responsibilities for a big tip. Should the be responsible? Tough call.

The bar my brother tends is actually embroiled in a legal battle about someone who left drunk (my brother didn't serve him, he often refuses people who are too drunk, but I got the impression that he's a rarity) and ended up killing himself in an accident. The drunk driver's family's suing the bar, who is apparently legally responsible. In Ontario at least, it may differ depending on province.

Ultimately, I think responsibility is that of the drunken mayhem makers. I've been completely off my rocker and still been able to be reasonably socially aware. People who aren't tend to piss me off.
posted by cCranium at 2:44 PM on February 7, 2001


I dont understand how cases like this one and the McDonald's case get by. Wasn't there some Einstein quote like "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe." It couldn't be more true.
posted by grank at 2:48 PM on February 7, 2001


Fred Barras, the 16 year old murdered by Tony Martin, was a traveller ... Martin was notoriously anti-traveller ...

I thought I knew Britishisms pretty well, but this one (for "gypsy" in case anyone missed it) was a new one on me. Brings a new meaning to the Alan Parsons Project song, "The Traveller" ...
posted by kindall at 3:35 PM on February 7, 2001


Jacko, she did not collect that much money. Facts about the McDonald's lawsuit. Another view. Around this time McDonald's was also using newer thin styrofoam cups; later they returned to using stronger cups. It's been years and years since they used "heavy duty" styro cups like you find in breakrooms. I'm not sure why that didn't factor into the case, since I personally felt the thin cups were too easily crushed (once I knocked one over, the cap stayed on, but the cup cracked ... and the hot coffee spilled on the table). I can completely believe that the cup Ms. Lieback was handed was simply too weak for the purpose.

The main reason the jury ended up with such a large punitive award was that McDonald's had a history of such injuries and had not changed its policies.

If you are going to argue that people are awarded frivolous amounts of money, you should at least use examples where they actually received the money. Better yet do not use examples where they spend a week in the hospital.
posted by dhartung at 3:55 PM on February 7, 2001


Everyone knows that McDonalds is simply out to scorch people.
posted by xtrmntr at 7:53 PM on February 9, 2001


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