It appears an ill-natured prankster spread adhesive on the toilet seat of a Home Depot in Florissant, Mo., in suburban St. Louis. The hapless patron who was next to sit down claims in his suit that the earlier, similar incident in Colorado (which we covered here and here) should have put Home Depot on notice that “a strong possibility that instances of copycat behavior would occur”. With that awareness in hand, the retail chain could have — what? sent in an employee to check for seat-gluing after each time a customer used the facility? (The Smoking Gun, Jun. 13).
Federal toilet-flow regulation, writes Andrew Ferguson, resulted from a successful collaboration between organized industry and environmentalists against the interests of the general public. (“Can Deregulating Toilets Revive Republicans?”, Bloomberg News, Jan. 24).
“A man who sued Home Depot claiming that a prank left him glued to a restroom toilet seat has passed a lie detector test, a newspaper reported.” After Bob Dougherty made headlines with his allegations that employees of the home improvement chain failed to respond to his calls for help, “Ron Trzepacz, former director of operations in Nederland, where Dougherty lives, said that Dougherty claimed in 2004 that he was glued to a toilet seat in the town’s visitor center but pulled himself free.” However, Dougherty said he knew nothing of Trzepacz or of such an incident and offered to take the polygraph test, which was arranged by a local television station. (AP/CNN, Nov. 11). Amid the numerous puzzling aspects of the case, one aspect is reassuringly familiar, namely that it’s Not About the Money (see Nov. 7, etc.) “It’s not about the money. I want my health back. I want to be back to normal,’ Dougherty said. ‘I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody ever, ever again.'” His lawsuit asks $3 million for pain, humiliation and other losses. (AP/CNN, “Man glued to toilet may have history”, Nov. 8). Possibly the most groanworthy headline, of several candidates, was the Dallas Morning News’s: “Toilet allegation: Was it stunt No. 2?” (Nov. 8).
A group of volunteer parents and teens built the Uncle Bud Skate Park in downtown Marshfield, Massachusetts over the last five years, but the state Office on Disability is threatening to order the park closed to the public because the park does not meet accessibility requirements. (The park does contain an ampitheater, so it’s not just an issue of accommodating disabled roller-bladers.) So far Public Works Superintendent R. Jeb DeLoach has responded in Harrison Bergeron fashion, by removing a bench and a portable toilet that was not handicapped accessible. (Needless to say, this does not make the park any friendlier to the handicapped, but rather makes it equally unfriendly to the non-disabled.) There’s still an issue because only one of the three entrances to the park is accessible; compliance costs for this and other violations will raise the cost of the park 25%. (Shamus McGillicuddy, Patriot-Ledger, Apr. 12) (via Newman, who asks, “[I]f you hated the handicapped and wanted to hatch a plot that would cause children and their families to resent them, could you really do better than this?”). For the tale of the wheelchair ramp in the mountains, see Jul. 9, 2003.
Meals-on-wheels officials in Gloucestershire were preparing to distribute to elderly clients paper napkins printed with tips on how to avoid being a crime victim, but paused the initiative after being warned that no safety assessment had been made of the possible choking hazard should pensioners insert the napkins into their mouths; the distribution eventually went forward, but critics said the episode encouraged the portrayal of aged persons as senile (Martin Wainwright, “No napkins … elderly might eat them”, The Guardian, Apr. 13). The Royal Chesterfield hospital is locked in a longstanding battle with claims-chasers who prowl its accident and emergency facilities promoting no-win, no-fee legal practices. Said a spokesman: “They have been approaching patients, asking them how they came about their injuries, was it their fault and if they want to sue. We have had several complaints from patients. These people are also handing out official-looking leaflets with an NHS-type logo which makes it look as if the hospital is endorsing their actions.” (Nick Britten, “Hospital lawyers target ‘ambulance chasers'”, Daily Telegraph, Apr. 14). Until recently a number of Scottish prisons provided inmates with chamberpots rather than in-cell toilets for overnight use; the practice has now been ruled a human rights violation and taxpayers are on the hook for compensation claims that some see rising as high as £100 million. (Hamish MacDonell and John Robertson, “Slopping-out prisoners ‘to sue for £100m'”, The Scotsman, Feb. 11; Kirsty Scott, “Slopping out judged a breach of human rights”, The Guardian, Apr. 27, 2004). And the newsletter of the Association of Lloyd’s Members, serving participants in the venerable London insurance market, will be reprinting with credit occasional items from this website (after having asked our permission, which we were happy to grant).