By By Craig Ziemba / guest columnist
June 6, 2004
Since Democrats in the Mississippi House of Representatives are once again stonewalling attempts at meaningful tort reform, even though the National Chamber of Commerce ranks us dead last in legal climate for business, I've begun to reassess my plans for the future.
I'd hoped that by working two jobs, driving old cars and paying off my mortgage, my family would gradually get ahead and build a nice life for ourselves here in Mississippi. But, now I can't help but think there must be a much easier way. Since there's no penalty for frivolous lawsuits, why should I bust my tail working when I could make serious money in court?
My entire life, I have been a victim of alphabetical discrimination. From my first day in kindergarten until I graduated college, I was placed in the last seat of the back row. I received my books last, registered for classes last, drank from the water fountain last and saw the chalkboard through the back of Troy Ziegler's head.
Instead of concentrating on schoolwork, I was lulled into a cycle of inattention and mischief due to my seat way in the back. There's no telling what I may have achieved in life had I not faced such an overwhelming obstacle during my formative years.
You Andersons, Browns and Caldwells have no idea what a tremendous advantage you have over the Walkers and Zimmermans of the world. There's no way I can really put a price tag on the pain and suffering I endured so that you could have your picture first in the yearbook and walk across stage to receive your diploma while the audience was still awake. But I'll try.
For starters, I might have done well enough in school to receive a full-ride scholarship ($100,000), to become a brain surgeon ($500,000 a year for 30 years or $15 million), and to have understood economics well enough to pull out of the stock market before it crashed ($10 million or more).
People in my shoes who would settle for mere millions lack ambition. When I add up all of the non-economic losses, slights, and punitive damages, my suit ends up in the billions with a "B". Society owes me huge.
This will be the biggest jackpot to hit the Mississippi Bar since asbestos. Fortunately, the stall tactics in the legislature have given me the time and opportunity to find a judge named Young, Ziller, or Zabinski to hear my case. If I file now, there will be no statute of limitations, and I can list joint liability extending to schoolteachers, coaches and everyone else who was an accomplice to my demise.
As seen on TV
Clearly, this is not a case for an amateur. Face recognition will do a lot to win my case, so I'll probably hire that "as seen on TV" guy. His smile and my tears will melt the jury's heart. They'll be so flattered to have a billboard-plastered celebrity in court, they'll probably ask for his autograph.
I've seen the commercials. If he can get $2 million for a crushed Hyundai, just imagine what he could do with my shattered self-esteem.
What'll I do with all of the money? Like most people who win outrageous sums in the legal lottery, I'll probably take up philanthropy and invest in education and cancer research (assuming anything is left after I pay a third to the IRS, a third to the trial lawyer and buy myself a private jet to fly to my island resort property).
Now, it may be true that news of my huge settlement will drive away auto manufacturers, doctors, and other legitimate business, but I'm sure that enough lawyers will move in to fill up the vacuum. Anyway, who needs to work when we can make so much more money suing each other?
Craig Ziemba is a military pilot who lives in Meridian. His book, Boondoggle, is available at Meridian area Bible Bookstores.