Lawyers everywhere are still celebrating the decision in last month's ice pick trial. Pointy Ice Picks, Inc. was ordered to pay a hundred billion trillion dollars to Eddie "Shotglass" Johnson. Johnson was in the middle of a three day drinking binge when he tried to clean out his ear with an ice pick.
The Hittman Chronicle was granted an exclusive interview with Jonathan Crook, a senior partner of Thieving & Crook, the law firm that represented Mr. Johnson.
THMC: As I understand it, Shotglass injured himself with an ice pick, is that correct?
Crook: No. He did not "injure himself." He was injured by Pointy's faulty product. If Pointy hadn't manufactured the ice pick he wouldn't have injured himself with it.
THMC: Could you fill us in on the details?
Crook: Mr. Eddie Johnson, who prefers to be called "Shotglass," usually goes out for a drink or two from Friday evening until sometime on Monday or Tuesday. He typically comes home once or twice to pass…sleep before continuing his social activities. On the Saturday night in question Shotglass returned to his trailer about 3 A.M. His ears were ringing, probably from the band at the bar, and he was concerned that something might have been blocking his hearing. He attempted to clean his ear out with an ice pick designed, marketed and sold by the defendant. Evidently he passed about around then, falling on the pick. The pick punctured his eardrum and entered his brain. This resulted in permanent deafness in his left ear, and a reduction in his IQ of about ten points.
THMC: Ten Points? So his IQ is now…
Crook: About 70, as far as we can tell. Which makes him just a bit smarter than the jurors in this trial.
THMC: Are you talking the average IQ of the jurists, or the total IQ of all of them?
Crook: (Laughs) Don't make fun of the jury, boy. See this watch? See that Porsche? Jury selection is my specialty. It's where the case is won or lost. And this jury was a dream.
THMC: Where did you find them?
Crook: In O. J's hot tub.
THMC: What was that they were wearing on their chins during the trial?
Crook: Drool Straps, a little device I had to invent once I perfected the art of jury selection. It’s a simple strap that holds a sponge on their chin. Otherwise we had problems with them slipping on their own saliva. The sponges cut down on that.
THMC: So how did they decide your client deserved a hundred billion trillion dollars?
Crook: First they came back with a judgment of a zillion dollars. The judge explained that there was no such number as a zillion and sent them back to deliberate some more. An hour later they returned with an award of gazillion dollars. Once again they were sent back. They came back with a hundred million dollars plus infinity. The judge was getting exasperated when he sent them back the third time. Finally they came back with an award of a hundred billion trillion dollars. The judge was so happy to see them come up with a real number he thanked them and sent them home.
THMC: How much money does Pointy Ice Picks have?
Crook: Pointy is a small factory. They employ about fifteen people and have an income of about two million dollars a year. The factory and tools are probably worth ten or eleven million dollars. We'll have a better idea once they liquidate their assets.
THMC: So fifteen people will be out of work.
Crook: It serves them right for making such a dangerous product.
THMC: How could they make an ice pick safe and still have it work?
Crook: That's not my problem. I'm not an engineer. My job is to get the best settlement for my client.
THMC: And how much do you think your client will actually receive?
Crook: Hard to say. The amount will almost certainly be reduced on appeal, considering there isn't' that much money in the entire United States. Big verdicts always make the headlines, but you never hear about the reductions. Like the McDonald's hot coffee case – sure, she won a judgement of over three million dollars, but that was reduced to a mere $480,000. A pittance, really.
THMC: That's still a lot of money for being stupid.
Crook: Not really. Being stupid can be a lot more profitable than that. Just ask my client.
THMC: Bottom line, how much will your client get?
Crook: We won't know until the appeals process is completed. Even with insurance Pointy is only going to be able to come up with twenty million, tops. Fortunately, we're just getting started.
THMC: I thought the trial was finished?
Crook: Against Pointy, yes, but that was just the ramp up. The bars that served him don't have any assets, so we won't be going after them. But Toothless, Inc. the makers of his mobile home, is a pretty big company. Jack Daniel's is on our list…
THMC: Was he drinking Jack Daniel's?
Crook: Not when he had the accident, no. But he tried it once, and liked it, so they are a definite contributor to his drinking problem.
THMC: Who else?
Crook: All the breweries, distilleries and wineries in the US. If tobacco companies are responsible for smoking, alcohol producers are responsible for drinking.
THMC: So that should keep you busy for the next what, ten years or so?
Crook: Oh no, this is just to finance our next series of suits. Class action, that's where the real money is. Everyone in the class gets a few bucks, and we get millions. Or, with the one we have in mind, billions. And unlike our suit against Pointy Inc, the defendants in this next one really do have billions they can pay out.
THMC: So what is the suit?
Crook: I guess it's safe to tell you about it, because we've already filed the paperwork. We're suing on behalf of everyone on earth. That’s about six billion people. We're going after the oil companies for global warming.
THMC: But global warming is still theoretical. In fact, satellite data shows that there has been a slight cooling for the past ten years.
Crook: You know that. I know that. But do you think I'm going to let anyone on my jury know that?
Here's the lawsuit that inspired this article, and here's an update on the story.
Lawyers and stupid people oppose Loser Pays with outrageous lies about the horrible consequences of a system that has worked elsewhere for centuries. Here's how it really works.
© 1999 Dave Hitt
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