A lawyer’s life: Lawsuits v. the weirdness of everyday life

Some lawsuits are legitimate. Other "legal" matters beg the question "What were they thinking" in ways that range from the horrible to the insane.

Screen capture from Australian YouTube video of an accelerant-induced "fire test" pitting a Samsung smartphone (L) vs. an iPhone (R). Recently, some Samsung phones have been spontaneously combusting without such intervention. Time for a lawsuit?

WASHINGTON, September 11, 2016 — Some lawsuits address very serious matters, while other “legal” concerns stretch the imagination and, thank goodness, do not make it to the lawsuit status. The following selected lawsuits have been taken from across the country, and the inquiries are all repeated almost exactly as received by the author. All share the same “what were they thinking?” theme, some attributable to the aggressors, some to the supposed victims.

Inquiry: Phone on fire, and a bit an over-the-top reaction

“I am writing because of an incident that I had. My 1-year old son was playing with my cell phone. A text message came in. I took the phone. Within 10 seconds, I heard a pop, then I saw a flame ignite from the phone. I immediately threw the phone and dodged for the door with my son. The flame went out in about 20 seconds and the smoke covered my entire apartment. I was screaming and so was my son. The fire did not damage anything in my home by the grace of God.

“I then put the phone in a bucket and rushed to the phone store where I purchased the phone. As usual their system was down. But instead of even asking if I was okay, they asked if I had insurance.

“The store representative took a report and said call back around 5 for a replacement. I simply said ok and left. I felt angered. I don’t feel that I should have had to wait for a new phone. But I had some patience. I called back at 5 and of course, no phone. I waited 2 more hours and then got my replacement.

“I have a 10-year old daughter who could not contact me, my mom couldn’t get to me, and my Papa was having surgery and I didn’t even know. I have been crying for the last three days just thinking what if a text never came through? What if I decided to read it later? My son could have been hurt, burned up or even dead.

“I feel like I should sue for emotional distress or something. This hurts my soul. I can’t sleep, and I’m so scared for my son.”

Lawsuit: Another bad cop

A Tacoma, Washington, off-duty police officer is being sued for using excessive force against a teenage girl. Captured on surveillance video, the cop is seen throwing a young African-American girl to the ground and shooting her with a stun gun. This happened after he stopped the girl and her brother while they were riding bikes in a parking lot. The lawsuit alleges that the cop accused them of causing a disturbance and details that he threw the girl from her bike after she challenged him and attempted to pedal away.

Inquiry: Horrible and tough case, probably no-one to collect from

Generally the law does not find businesses liable for the criminal acts of their employees unless the business had reason to know of the employee’s violent propensities but kept that individual on staff.

“A handyman assaulted me. A company sent him after I hired them from their website. I sustained three compound mandibular fractures and multiple abrasions, lacerations, and contusions. I had surgery and my jaw was wired shut for eight weeks. I had to have an additional surgery to have part of my jaw removed and again I had an excruciating recovery. I have been unable to work and I have been in extreme pain and discomfort. The trauma has caused nerve damage in part of my face, lasting psychological effects, and has caused physical disability that has resulted in my medical separation from the Naval Service. I had to move out of the area in order to feel safe, I am trying to sell the house I had purchased less than a year before, I must find a new career, and I will have to obtain physical and psychological treatment for the foreseeable future. I am seeking legal assistance to explore my options for a civil suit.”

Lawsuit: Too much power, and not even a cop

A California mall security guard pulled a gun on a shopper. The lawsuit alleges that the guard pulled his gun after the plaintiff hit a traffic cone on his way out of the mall parking lot. The guard was not licensed to carry the pistol at the time of the incident. The civil lawsuit alleges assault, false imprisonment, and inflicting emotional distress.

Inquiry: Yes, and? Who do you want to sue and for what?

“I went swimming, got out of the water and took a step up on the railroad tie. I lost my balance, took 2 steps and fell on a man sitting in the sand. He asked me if I was okay and I said yeah and he said can you get up and I said no. Then my sister came over and they helped me up and she and I walked over to the table and someone said get ice from the lifeguards and so my sister went over and told them I got hurt and we needed ice so they came right away and one went to get ice and 2 park officials came down and we talked and decided I needed the rescue squad. I was taken to hospital and I was in the ER 9 or 10 hours, then I came home with a dislocated shoulder that was put back in socket.”

Lawsuit: Let’s pay it and be done with it

An Oklahoma woman sued a sheriff’s department claiming their car hit her, causing her to fall into a fruit stand. She settled for $12,300. Her lawsuit claims she fell when the deputy’s unoccupied car rolled into her. Officials said she most likely fell when a bystander pushed her out of the way.

Inquiry: Apparently you didn’t check it out first – Exclamation point!

“I was tricked into purchasing a $4,000 car for $11,490.00!!! I have been humiliated and I have had problems with the car within 3 days of the purchase! This car company ripped me off big time and I want to sue them for everything I can!!! I need a lawyer now!”

Lawsuit: Another OMG, worst nightmare

A South Carolina jury awarded a widow $4.65 million against the Ford Motor Company. Her husband committed suicide in 2012 after a car accident the previous year in which a defective airbag left him disfigured, in great pain, and unable to work. The jury determined that while the husband’s mental history contributed to his suicide, Ford’s negligence was overwhelmingly to blame for his death.

Inquiry: Did the spit get in, or not?

“Nancy told me that Tom told her that he spit in my coffee. Yes, I drank the coffee. He admitted it and it was brought to the attention of our director. Tom got only a written warning. I was under the impression that tampering with someone’s food was, at the LEAST, a misdemeanor under the law. I’m astonished that Tom, who is from Europe somewhere, hasn’t been fired and/or sent back across the water. How do I know that he doesn’t have some communicable disease that ended up in my coffee? My coffee was covered.”

The law can help victims, punish wrongdoers, and assist those in need. It can also, unfortunately, be used to abuse other individuals or organizations. Some cases, fortunately, only go so far as the inquiries and no farther. Attorneys do indeed have many stories. These are some of them.


Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980.  He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website

His book “The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You” can be instantly downloaded, for free, on his website: http://www.samakowlaw.com/book.

Samakow has now also started a small business consulting firm. His new book “Step By Step, Achieve Small Business Success” is available at www.thebusinessanswer.com.

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