News & Events

Everyone Must Get Sued – Really?

In his famous August 13, 1987 opinion granting summary judgment in W.B. Crain v. Cleveland Lodge 1532, Order of Moose, Inc.; in the Circuit Court of Bolivar County, Mississippi, Second Judicial District; No. 7887, then-Circuit Judge Eugene M. Bogen[1] considered the premises liability claim of a Moose Lodge patron who was rendered unconscious by an unknown assailant in a robbery in the Lodge parking lot.  Judge Bogen wrote:

[I]t does not follow that merely because [Plaintiff] was attacked on the premises of the Moose Lodge, the Moose should pay.  The Plaintiff advances a widely held view in our society that there is always someone to blame for life’s misfortunes.  …With apologies to Bob Dylan, the notion that everybody must be compensated for every injury is illustrated by the following song:

Well, they’ll sue you when you fail to pay the claim;
They’ll sue you for bad faith no matter who’s to blame.
They’ll sue you when you’re driving to go home
Then they’ll sue you when you’re parked and all alone.
But, I would not feel so much abused,
Everybody must be sued.

Well, they’ll sue you for spittin on the street;
They’ll sue you when they slip on their feet.
They’ll sue you when they fall on the floor;
They’ll sue you as they walk through the door.
But, I would not feel so much abused,
Everybody must be sued.

 Well, they’ll sue you if it hits them from the sky;
They’ll sue you if it hits them in the eye.
They’ll sue you if their body gets a shock;
They’ll sue you if their door is left unlocked.
But, I would not feel so much abused,
Everybody must be sued.

 Well, they’ll sue you when you’re riding in your car;
They’ll sue you if they drank it in your bar.
They’ll sue you if they lose their nasty job;
They’ll sue you if the treatment brings a sob.
But, I would not feel so much abused,
Yes, everybody must be sued.
Well, they’ll sue you when you’re just a little tyke;
They’ll sue you and everybody else in sight.
In the land of the free and the home of the brave,
They’ll sue you when you’re lying in your grave.
But, I would not feel so much abused,

EVERYBODY must be sued.

Despite the fact that everybody must be sued, not everybody should recover.  Summary judgment will be entered for the Defendant.

(Aug. 13, 1987 Mem. Op. at 7-8) (Adapted from Bob Dylan’s song, “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35”) (ASCAP).

Since 1987, our society has become even more litigious.  According to one source, the annual cost to the United States economy of civil suits alone is $239,000,000,000.  See http://www.statisticbrain.com/civil-lawsuit-statistics/.   As explained by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, “America has the world’s costliest legal system. As a percentage of our economy, U.S. legal liability costs are double those of the UK, three times higher than those in France and five times higher than those in Japan.”  http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/issues/lawsuit-abuse-impact.

Perhaps it is time that our society heed Judge Bogen’s wise words and recognize that “there is [not] always someone to blame for life’s misfortunes.”  (Aug. 13, 1987 Mem. Op. at 7).  Put differently, everybody must not get sued.

[1] Judge Bogen was subsequently appointed United States Magistrate Judge in 1995.

E. Barney Robinson, III

Barney Robinson