Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

By Reiland, Ralph R. | The Humanist, March 2000 | Go to article overview

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?


Reiland, Ralph R., The Humanist


Remember Gloria Sykes? Straight out of small-town, corn-belt America, she's the good churchy woman who swore she was transformed into an insatiable sex machine after being bounced around in a San Francisco cable car accident. Buying the idea that your name is mud after you've become a fireball with fifty guys a week, a California Superior Court jury awarded her $50,000.

I'm no doctor, no expert on how bumps can rearrange lifestyles, but I figured Sykes' case had to be unique, a once-in-a-lifetime thing (or fling). I was wrong.

The National Center for Public Policy Research reports that a twenty-seven-year-old man in Michigan hit the courthouse jackpot for $200,000 after claiming that a car crash led him to switch sexual gears. Previously happily married, the man testified that he became gay after being rear-ended by a pickup truck!

For good measure, the Michigan jury, after being sufficiently informed of the money-makes-people-whole-again model of U.S. jurisprudence, also awarded $25,000 to the man's ex-wife. No one in court, of course, suggested brainstorming for a non-money solution, a creative long shot--something like giving the man Sykes' phone number.

For those of us schooled in the idea that there's no such thing as a free lunch, this $225,000 in awards means nothing less than a $225,000 hike in car insurance premiums. Unfortunately, if all goes according to plan, we can also expect to pay some jacked-up prices to compensate the latest folks who say they've been victimized by tacos, doughnuts, pita wraps, milk, soap, and toothbrushes.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Mulkesh K. Rai sued Taco Bell for serving him an incorrect burrito. Rai, an allegedly devout Hindu, ordered a bean burrito and was instead handed a beef burrito. By biting into it, Rai claims to have violated his most fundamental religious principle. Maybe I'm too laissez-faire, but I'd bet ten to one that an all-knowing God would know that fast-food joints aren't perfect and move on. Instead, Rai insisted that the wrong burrito produced the predictable list of actionable traumas: severe emotional distress, loss of wages, big medical expenses, blah, blah, blah.

"Eating the cow, it was a really devastating experience," explained Rai, "so much so that I had to go to a psychiatrist. I went to a doctor. I couldn't sleep." On top of seeking money for guilt and sleeplessness, Rai also sued for the cash to cover trips to both England and India--the destinations for religious purification ceremonies to get over the incorrect burrito, including a dip in the Ganges River.

Similarly, a woman in Nashua, New Hampshire, suffering from severe emotional stress has sued a doughnut shop for gross negligence, claiming that her tension began when she and her coworkers opened a box of baked goods that allegedly included a dozen or so in the shape of male genitalia. …

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