A couple people have commented on the veracity of the World Class Bitch Alert post--even one lawyer. A quick news.google of Wanita Young (the bitch in question) pulls up lots of confirmatory articles and a few updates. Granted, most of them are for sure based off the original AP source, but from everything I've read, this doesn't stike me as all that hard to believe. It's ludicrous, yes. But in today's world it seems you can always find someone to blame. And if you can find someone to blame, you can get a settlement.

Here's an update on the story: apparently one of the fathers of the young girls has had to file for a restraining order against Wanita's husband, a local radio station has raised more than enough money to pay the girls' $900 fine, and Wanita's phone hasn't stopped ringing--she's even received death threat--and she says she will probably have to leave town permanently. Hopefully, Wanita is now the one learning a lesson.

Also, a regular google of Wanita Young brings up plenty of other commentary on this incident--Wanita doesn't fare well. My personal favorite is here--mind you, it's quite rough.


Blogger Class of 1996 Reunion Committee  said...

Thanks for the update on the story. I thought I would let you and everybody else know that Court TV will be discussing this topic on their 5:00pm show today, "Catherine Crier Live." I believe they will actually be talking to the woman involved (the plaintiff/bitch).

Wednesday, February 16, 2005  

Blogger Class of 1996 Reunion Committee  said...

Ok, I watched the Court TV segment addressing the "Cookie" Lawsuit. Sorry for how long this is, but it covers everything I think needs to be addressed.

The show spoke with three people: The plaintiff, her husband, and their attorney. I'll refer to the woman who sued as "the plaintiff" and the teenage girls as "the defendants." Here are some of my notes from it:

- Incident occurred at 10:30pm

- Defendants drove to Plaintiff's house located in a rural community approximately 12 miles from where the defendants live

- Plaintiff's closest neighbor is 1/4 away

- Defendants parked their car down the road from plaintiff's house

- Defendants crossed plaintiff's property by walking across a field and climbing over a fence

- Defendants went to the back door

- Defendants admitted to banging loudly on the door

- Defendants did not respond to plaintiff asking "who is there?"

- Defendants jumped and hid when plaintiff looked out the window

- Plaintiff went to hospital with "symptoms of a heart attack" (pressure in chest, rapid heart rate)

- Plaintiff was diagnosed with having an anxiety attack

- The mothers of the defendants visited plaintiff 3 days after incident and offered to pay plaintiff's medical bills

- Plaintiff agreed to defendants paying medical bills and sent both families proof of her $890 bill (it was to be split between the defendants)

- Plaintiff then received a legal document ("release:) asking for her to waive all legal rights in consideration for the $890 (payment was not included with document)

[I'm uncertain about the chronology from here but it seems to me that it was at this point that she decided to file a lawsuit. However, she claims she decided to sue after calling one of the defendants' parents who responded that they were advised by legal counsel not to speak to plaintiff.]

- Plaintiff and her family have received death threats and harassing phone calls/mail from all over the country


My opinion on this (I've only heard plaintiff's side) is that the defendants were probably trying to be funny and didn't have the most sincere intentions. They probably knew who the family was and were trying to harass them without looking like they were trying to harass (I did it when I was a kid).

As for the lawsuit, I don't think it falls into the category of "frivolous." The woman was caused some distress but, to me, it falls into the category of things that people need to just suck it up and accept as being part of life. Just because you can sue for something doesn't mean you should. People need to realize that life involves mental, emotional, and physical highs and lows that are not always controllable. Basically, things like this will happen from time to time and you can't look to civil litigation to insulate you from ordinary life.

To me, the real cause of the lawsuit is the greater problem of social distrust and insecurity. This lawsuit would likely never have been filed if the defendants didn't send the release document. But you can't blame them for wanting to make sure that this was sufficient to end the dispute. So then, you have the plaintiff facing a serious and imposing document she doesn't understand. Instead of just signing it without fully understanding it, she either: 1) calls the defendants to ask why this is necessary (which she did and was informed they would not speak for legal reasons); or 2) contacts a lawyer who will likely cost at least half of the $890 just to look at the release and give a recommendation and may also inform her of potential "damages" she could win if she filed a lawsuit. The problem is that Option 1 will usually result in Option 2 and Option 2 will almost always result in litigation. So, the parties find themselves quickly sliding into a lawsuit.

Is there anything that can be done? Probably not. The parties did the right thing in the beginning by simply talking and informally agreeing to a simple settlement. But fear then took over and the defendants insisted on a formal release (which was reasonable but likely unnecessary) which caused fear in the plaintiff (which was reasonable but likely unnecessary). Then the legal process took over and personal visits turned into phone calls, phone calls turned into letters, and letters turned into legal documents. It's too bad, but that's just how it is today.

All in all, is the plaintiff a cranky, old, insensitive bitch? No, in fact, she's too sensitive. Are the defendants innocent girl scouts? No, they were likely trying to be little smart asses. I hope I've offered a different perspective on how this story initially sounded.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005  

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