Thursday, October 19, 2006

So Many Lawyers...

So Few Legitimate Torts Little Time…

Would somebody please take a look at this stupid crap this so called “news” story for a moment and explain these peoples' logic to me?

Go ahead and take your time…

I’ve got the rest of my life…

Here’s an excerpt for those of you too lazy to click on the link:

MARION, Ind. - Relatives of a university student misidentified as a classmate who was killed in highway accident have told officials they plan to sue over handling of the crash.

The so-called tort claim on behalf of survivor Whitney Cerak, her parents and sister targets the actions of Grant County Coroner Ron Mowery in identifying four Taylor University students and one employee who were killed in the April 26 crash.

Grant County officials on Monday received the tort claim, a legal step required under state law before a government agency can be sued. The claim argues Mowery was "not properly trained and educated" as a coroner and that he "failed to exercise reasonable care" to avoid the misidentification.

The claim seeks unspecified damages for emotional trauma.

So think about this with me for a minute...someone you love with all of your heart is reported to be killed in a car accident, then two weeks later you find out that they are actually still alive.

What do you do, sue the messenger?

If that were the case, the US Army would have gone out of business in WWI as a result of lawsuits over inaccurate killed/missing in action reports delivered to mothers and wives here stateside.

Two wrongs never make things right, and in this case this lawsuit appears to be totally unwarranted and totally absurd.

That's not to say that there's not a good chance that, given our current legal climate, they might not win a judgment in their favor, but will their windfall be based on additional medical costs caused by the coroner's proported negligence (and there were no costs--the young lady went straight to the hospital from the accident scene...) or our "jackpot mentality" touted by the legions of Tort Lawyers wandering late night TV commercials and printing ads on the back of your local Yellowpage Phone Books.

Some of you may remember the original story about the April 26th crash involving a tractor trailer and a College van, killing five and severely injuring four of the vehicle’s occupants.

The Cerak family’s argument and resulting lawsuit results from the fact that at first they were told that their 19 year old daughter, Whitney Cerak, was killed in the accident, and continued to believe that she was dead for a couple of weeks.

It was actually 22-year-old Laura VanRyn who was the fatally injured victim.

The VanRyn family kept vigil beside Whitney’s bedside for a couple of weeks, only realizing her true identity when she awoke from her coma and was able to speak coherently.

So why aren't the Cerak's suing the VanRyn's also, since they couldn't tell their own mutilated daughter from the Cerak's mutilated daughter?

I also like to point out that a key point of the lawsuit questions the coroner's "handling" of the accident victims.

Let's see here...the dead people were buried, and the live people were sent to the hospital, weren't they?

It's not like that the coroner sent the live girl to the morgue (thereby denying her of emergency medical treatment) or hit her in the head with a hammer to stop her from thrashing around at the accident scene--at least as far as I've heard.

So are the VanRyn's out there somewhere waiting to see the outcome of the Cerak's legal follies, in anticipation of hitting the financial jackpot themselves?

Probably, but maybe not...

My position here is that this family should be content to rejoice that Whitney actually survived her ordeal, then shut up and go sit home and in church with their recently recovered daughter, all the time counting their blessings, rather than hiring a lawyer and suing the county for a coroner’s innocent mistake.

After all, it’s common published knowledge that the girls bore a striking resemblance to each other, and in this day and time of many kids having virtually cavity free teeth, even dental records might not have provided any assistance in the identification process.

I also suspect that some member of the Cerak family was asked to do an initial identification of the body of VanRyn, and there might not have been an autopsy, but the family could possibly share some responsibility for the mistake.

Further, maybe these two young women were in the 2% small minority of young women in the US that don’t have rings and studs protruding from their faces and tattoos covering their breasts and the small of their backs--making the identification process even harder.

Regardless, I think that if anyone should be the target of the lawsuit, it should be the truck driver that caused the accident and possibly the trucking company that operated the equipment.

And in a final moment of political incorrectness, I have to admit that if I were the coroner, I’d be tempted to ask if the Cerak family would drop the lawsuit if I rented a truck and finished what the other driver started.

(OK, I just felt like saying the last paragraph, but I really don't think like that, so don't be e-mailing me with your whiny complaints...)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I live in Indiana within 30 miles of both the accident scene and the school. Just so you know, in Indiana, anyone, you, me, anyone can be elected to the office of coroner. And the law at the time was for the coroner to "ID" the victims. There are no qualifications to be a coroner. The one in question was previously the sherrif.

In this case, students in another Taylor van ID'd the victims and survivors and the coroner "OK'd" the results. There was no dental check, fingerprints, anything. The students in the other van were looking at people that in some cases they had only met for this event and were in shock at the state of the victims and survivors. The families were encouraged by the hospital where the bodies were taken to not view the bodies as they were extremely mutilated by the wreck.

As a backup, the coroner had some school officials ID the bodies, by giving them a list of the dead and having them match to the bodies. The school officals were administrators again, not medical personel. They were also not told they were making the positive ID. They were told they were matching names.

To my understanding, the lawsuit was the Cerak family's method of forcing the state of Indiana to change the process in which bodies are ID'd by specific methods (fingerprints, dental, etc.) and not because a drivers liscense picture looks good.

With that, the state of Indiana did pass a law requiring this.

Should the coroner have done it differently. In hind sight of course. But he did do two "checks" that were both allowed by law where only one was needed. Hence the need to change the law.

I am as appauled as anyone at the swiftness of lawsuits today. "My child failed a class, so I'll sue the teacher." Yes, that one has happened.

Just thought you might like a little more info than what you had on your blog.