First They Came For the Smelly People

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According to the AP, the town of Bend, Oregon, has banned stinking to high heaven while riding mass transit. More specifically, a new law bars anyone who "emanates a grossly repulsive odor that is unavoidable by other Bend Extended Area Transit customers"

First, hard cases make bad law. Now, bad smells make hard-to-enforce laws. What sort of jurors will smart trial lawyers go for in these cases?

[Link courtesy of bOing!bOing!]

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  1. I have been amazed at how stupid jurors who award these outlandish sums must be. They seem to believe that this money simply grows on a tree somewhere, and that all their verdict does is make the plaintiff wealthy. What they don’t realize is that their award has a tremendous cost – from the millions of dollars that companies are now motivated to waste on legal representation for fear of future awards, to the jobs and other economic opportunities that are lost as a result of companies having to pay outlandish awards, to, as the Washington Post put it, “society’s confidence in the justice system.”

  2. Brad, it’s easy….”bad, bad corporations”. That’s what they tell you anyway. Look at many of the posts floating on various blogs and you will find the same thing. there are a number of people in this country who believe that corporations are nothing but evildoers out to make a buck and they don’t care who they hurt in the process. Defiling the air and water at their childrens’ expense. Using up all the resources at the same time.

    Worst thing since Hitler.

    Regards,

    Steve

  3. It’s an us vs. them mentallity that is sorely outdated, stemming from days when employees where truly squalid and exploited and one immensely rich person owned the whole enterprise, or most of it. Not that those folks always deserved the reputation they had, but at least the argument seemed to make more sense.

    Nowadays, companies live and die by their ability to provide shareholder value, but something like 40% of shares are owned by mutual funds that are the backbone of everyone’s 401k, IRA or Roth funds. You like having a good paying job, and you also like (or, rather, did like) getting 20%+ returns on your 401k. The ‘them’ is ‘us’ now, and your 401k may someday cost you your job next time your company ‘downsizes’.

    Not trying to be a pessimist here, I think overall it’s a good thing (the job creation/destruction yin/yang of capitalism), but it is important for people to remember that corporations are just collections of people trying to earn a living, and they reflect the same prejudices, faults, hopes, dreams, and ideas of society in general.

  4. Jim – very well said…

  5. Amen to Jim. In addition one should consider that just as corporations are collections of people trying to earn a living, so are juries collections of people with dreams and personal motivations. It would be naive to think that in the minds of many of those jurors there is no consideration given to the possibility that they may one day get their turn at the legal cash pinata. The result being a weird mixture of “instant wealth” lust and a sense of karmic “Quid Pro Quo”. I’m sure that the plaintiff’s attorneys aren’t looking for the affluent stockholder type when selecting the perspective jurors in one of these “Sue the Evil Corporation” cases.

  6. See Reason’s article this month about juries. The ‘affluent stockholder type’ would probably be excluded just because he’s more likely to have an intelligent opinion. The people in the juries more than likely do own some stock (if even only through a mutual fund) but probably don’t make the connection that the cumulative effect of all outlandish jury settlements is costing them (and everyone else) in their material well being.

  7. Excellent points Jim. It’s easy for the Upton Sinclairs and Eugene Debs of the Gilded Age to complain about the working class when they lived in shacks and made a pittance. Today, the “working poor” (those around the 25K through 35k level) usually have a car, clean (assuming they keep it such) housing, more than enough food, DVD players, a couple of TV sets, a home computer, etc.. You’d think you’d be laughed out of the poli-sci class if you pointed to today’s working class and complain about the “destitution” compared to the lifestyle of latter day “robber barons” like Bill Gates.

    However, there is a serious lack of any real economic education in this country. Combine that with a national political machine that drives home the notion that you shouldn’t have to work for the basic needs of survival (e.g. food, clothing, shelter, health care, etc.) and that government should provide these services at the expense of those who “have more than enough” and you have the current problem.

  8. Limit punitive damages to twice the real damages and pay them to the court system!!!!

  9. The hard cases arise because civil society breaks down. If people go out in public without regard for their cleanliness, because there’s no informal stigma (including but not limited to being invited to others’ parties, having difficulty getting or keeping a job, or being used as an object lesson for children) what alternative is there to converting those customs into law?

  10. Why should people be forced to smell nice, if they don’t already want to smell nice because they care about other people’s opinions.

    How long before they pass laws limiting how much perfume/cologne one can wear becuase it might bother people who are sensitive to those smells?

    It would be a pretty convient reason to arrest or ticket someone who the police didn’t like if all they have to say is that they smelled funny.

  11. Actually, more interesting to me than the ban on smelly people on buses was the ban on skateboarding.

    The same law now makes it a crime to skateboard on a bus. Is this really a major problem? That is, do people really skateboard on buses?

    John

  12. I think the perfume complaint would actually be more relevant, as there are people with severe allergies to the stuff. Body odors are just unpleasant.

    But while they’re at it, why don’t they regulate that everyone is polite and goes to the back of a crowded bus and doesn’t talk loud and the bus driver doesn’t make turns at high speeds and the buses are all made by Mercedes (Mercedes makes very good buses, btw, they’re used in Germany)

  13. i have a really bad problem i cant seem to get rid of my bad body odour, have you got any tips for me, i promise i wont come to bend, to get thrown out. i have got another smelly friend named andrew singleton, can u send me an e-mail n i will giv u my address so u can send me somekind of newsletter or a problem solvins my bad smell.

    Your truly
    Kritian

  14. What the fuck are these jurors thinking. They’ve gotta be shitheads to make up such moronic bullshit. Honestly! They probably only did it because they’re jealous. Just because they hump they’re pillows every night doesn’t mean they have to ruin other peoples fucking lives. I mean just spare a fucking second and think about the reprecussions of these mindless bullshit. Next thing you know they’re gonna ban gay men from gay bars, declare close must be worn at strip bars, and force married couples to have oral sex enough to drown the fuckin wife.

    I hope they rembember there is a hell.

    screw you jurors,
    james

  15. What the fuck are these jurors thinking. They’ve gotta be shitheads to make up such moronic bullshit. Honestly! They probably only did it because they’re jealous. Just because they hump they’re pillows every night doesn’t mean they have to ruin other peoples fucking lives. I mean just spare a fucking second and think about the reprecussions of these mindless bullshit. Next thing you know they’re gonna ban gay men from gay bars, declare close must be worn at strip bars, and force married couples to have oral sex enough to drown the fuckin wife.

    I hope they rembember there is a hell.

    screw you jurors,
    james

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