This little anecdote, included in a list of “outrageous lawsuits,” just came to one of my email lists:
This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home from an OU football game, she, having driven onto the freeway, set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich.
Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned.
Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down, $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.
I thought the “PLUS a new motor home” was such a nice wingnutty touch to a long debunked tale, one that I even talked about in 2005, that I decided to check the intertrons to see if it was still flying around the tubes and found this old Walter Williams post that made me laugh out loud:
Literally hundreds of readers informed me that in last week’s column, “Some Things I Wonder About,” my reference to a Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City — who set his 32-foot Winnebago on cruise control, left the driver’s seat to brew a cup of coffee, crashed, then sued Winnebago for not having a warning against the dangers of doing so and received a jury award of $1,750,000 plus a new motor home — was an urban legend and as such totally false.
My having fallen for this “urban legend” points to more due diligence to fact-checking. Without making any excuses whatsoever for my lapse in due diligence, let’s look at it.
Thirty, 40 or 50 years ago, no one in their right mind would have believed the Merv Grazinski urban legend possible, but not so today. Personal responsibility has taken a back seat in our increasingly immoral and litigious society. Consider some actual lawsuits researched at (www.overlawyered.com).
This is a particular example of wingnut argumentation that I find rather amusing, and it always takes the following form:
Sure, I’ve now learned that X is not actually happening, but the fact that I believed that X could be happening is not, as one would think, a commentary on my foolishness and gullibility, but rather it is a scathing indictment of our societal decline.
We need to come up with a fashionable name for this, and I’m sure you all have your own examples.