Liability roundup


  • Although I think a lot of trip-and-fall lawsuits are bogus — “Watch where you put your feet!” I recently told a lawyer friend who had actually injured himself and was suing the City — notice how Detroit, instead of, oh, repairing the sidewalks, is angling for immunity. Will they use the money saved to fix the sidewalks? Keep on watching where you put your feet.


    • To be fair, Detroit is bankrupt and doesn’t have money to do much of anything.

  • Shouldn’t the first entry be titled ” deep pockets of the future”?

  • The notion that big cities are “negligent” for failing to fix sidewalks is absurd. Broken sidewalks create no more of a walking hazard in New York or Detroit than curbs, signs, cellar doors or any other variation in height. It’s a colossal money-making scheme, nothing more.

  • The City of Baltimore has a scheme (and there is no other way of putting it) where city inspectors came out and see if the sidewalks in front of your house have cracks, faults or have settled out of plane with the next piece of the sidewalk. They then issue a “fix order” that requires the homeowner to fix the sidewalk unless you appeal and win the appeal.

    The fun part comes in where instead of paying a contractor to do the work or doing it yourself, the City will be happy to come and fix the sidewalk and charge you. There are differences in the work though. The City does not have to get a permit to do the work. (The permit is anywhere from $100 – $150.) The City does not have to prove the psi of the cement and or even perform a slough test on the concrete. There is no inspection of the rebar if the City does the work, but an inspection (at an additional cost) if you or a contractor does the work. (Average length of time for an inspector to get to the job? About 2 weeks. That’s two weeks where you have an actual hazard in front of your home.)

    There is no guarantee to the City’s work and if the work fails, you have to pay to have the whole thing done again.

    What makes this scheme even more interesting is that the sidewalks are in the City’s right of way.

    As for the appeal? My mother got a notice that her sidewalks needed replacing. We had ten days to file an appeal. I wrote a long letter of the appeal and explaining the rational of the appeal. Two and a half years later, I am still waiting to hear the results of the appeal or even have a hearing scheduled. (The hearing takes place in front supervisor of the person who inspected the sidewalk in the first place.)

    Did I say it was a scheme? I meant scam.

    • They make you test the cement for a sidewalk? That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. There are definitely times those tests need to be done but certainly not for a sidewalk.

    • Of course, you and your friends could just go out one Saturday and replace it yourself while the appeal is pending and see if anyone notices. If someone says something, say “We filed an appeal. Some guys came out and fixed it. No permits, no testing, no invoice, no notice of further proceedings on the appeal. Reasonable reliance. We thought we’d won and the City had granted an equitable remedy.” The investigation would likely extend into the next century.

      • Thanks for the suggestion.

        However, that assumes there is something wrong with the sidewalk to begin with.

        Like locusts, the inspectors swept through the neighborhood and managed to find something wrong with every sidewalk in front of people’s homes. When I looked at the sidewalk sections of my mom’s house, the inspectors had said she needed to replace two entire sections that had corner cracks of 2 mm. (I measured it.) I filled the cracks with concrete epoxy and called again for an inspection. The inspector said I had “broken the law” for fixing the cracks” and would say the entire section would still be replaced. (But the City would be happy to do it for a mere $800 dollars.)

        It’s a fleecing scam.

        The interesting thing is that a water pipe in front of my mom’s house burst last year. The pipe was in the middle of the street so it was not my mom’s duty to replace it. After her calling every day as well as neighbors calling each day, the City came out 7 days later to replace the pipe. That’s seven days without water for the residents. They dug out the old pipe, replaced it with a new one, backfilled and went on their merry way.

        Two weeks later the repair hole collapsed. (They had never allowed the backfill to settle before sealing the hole.)

        Yeah, like I trust the City to do anything correctly or to do anything that is in the interests of the residents.

  • With respect to the food lawsuits, what happened to the free market? If I thought that Chobani used too much sugar, I’d buy a different brand more in line with my taste. If wasteful packaging of pasta were really important to me, even though the box is clearly marked one pound, I would buy a brand that used smaller boxes. In fact, that’s what I do because I don’t want bigger than necessary boxes taking up space on my pantry shelves.

    The courts have no business entertaining class actions with purely economic consequences that are trivial to a particular purchaser. Even if a manufacturer cheats on weights and measures, and shorts a box of cereal by 5%, the prosecution should belong to the government enforcing its weights and measures laws (which should be stiff enough to deter such behavior), and not to a class action plaintiff. If a particular purchaser discovers that he is shorted, he cab chose whether to buy the product again. It would not pay for him to sue for his $0.15 back on his $3.00 box of cereal.