Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weasels of the Week: Judge Paul Wooten & the Estate of Clare Menagh

We live in an excessively litigious society. That much has been a given for quite a while. But how low can a lawyer go?

In New York, the answer seems to be pretty low. By now, you're probably aware of the lawsuit filed against little Juliet Breitman, who was 3 months shy of her 5th birthday last year when she and a playmate, Jacob Kohn, also 4, were riding bicycles with training wheels on them when they struck an elderly woman, Clare Menagh, who suffered a fractured hip. Three months later, Mrs. Menagh passed away, but not before filing a suit against the toddlers and their parents, citing negligence. Her son, a lawyer by trade, has picked up the fight.

Making matters worse is Judge Paul Wooten. Citing a 1928 ruling, Wooten decreed that the suit can proceed, since the "defendants", if you will, were past the age of 4. Technically, 4 years, 9 months, in Ms. Breitman's case. These kids have just started school, and are being sued? How crazy is that?

The New York Daily News blasted Wooten in their op-ed page today, and appropriately so, giving him a "Knucklehead Award", which is sort of like the Dunce Caps I periodically hand out. Instead, Wooten, and the ambulance chaser he endorsed to go ahead with this suit, each earned a set of weasel ears. They're treating two kindergarteners like common thieves, even though they were under parental supervision when the incident occurred, and for what?

I've heard of cruel tricks on Halloween, but this is just flat wrong.

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