Friday, July 07, 2006

"I (Don't) Want To Be Like Mike"

A Northeast Portland, Oregon man, Allan Heckerd, bares a striking resemblence to former NBA basketball great, Michael Jordan. So much so in fact, that about three times a day people on the street stop him and ask if he's Michael Jordan.

If a person was so blessed to resemble a celebrity so closely then you would expect them to cash in some way. Maybe working as a professional impersonator or something. Instead, Heckerd claims looking like Michael Jordan has ruined his life, and has filed two $400 million dollar lawsuits against both Michael Jordan and Phillip Knight and his Nike Corporation which promote Michael Jordan in advertising for their sports and basketball shoes.

No one has asked Heckerd why he continues to run around with a shaved head similar to Jordan, or help to contribute to the resemblence. But a lawsuit based on the fact that your gene pool sum somehow causes you to have some resemblence to another famous person is whole crazy new twist on lawsuits. Normally you have to show some real injury in a lawsuit. And to claim that you simply look like a well loved celebrity lowers the intended purpose of lawsuits to a whole new level of absurdity. Everyday, perfectly good lawsuits for real injuries are turned down by attorneys, sometimes because of lawsuit damage caps which leave no money for the victim or attorney to collect after legal costs to hire expert witnesses or research work.

And some caps on lawsuit limits, such as a special one with the state of Oregon and OHSU even prevented a doctor who was permanently injured in a major surgery mistake from finding any attorney willing to seek fair compensation f or his injuries. This lawsuit limit is set so low that an injured patient cannot recover damages after legal costs including expert testimony are hired for trial. An injured person cannot recover even a dime under this salary cap law that applies to this single health care provider. This injured doctor attempted to represent himself he could not find a single attorney willing to work for free, or the injured client sue only to accept no damages. Without any legal representation this Doctor found no success in his uphill court case against OHSU lawyers. And while OHSU is an excellent medical research and health care provider, all medical providers do have some accidents or mistakes. I personally have had excellent health care from OHSU and I'm entirely satisfied with both the service and doctors. But everyone has a different experience with providers in the free marketplace.

The family of actor John Ritter recently discovered that a doctor ordered Xray was never done after he was rushed into the emergency department after a collapse on the set of show in Los Angeles a few years ago. Because this xray was never done, a tear in a main heart attery was not seen, and a huge dose of blood thinner was instead given. This blood thnner caused the blood not to clot, and was a death sentence causing Ritter to bleed to death at the age of 55. If the ordered xray would have been done, the blood thinner would not have given, Usually after a heart attack, blood thinners are given. And emergency staff treated Ritter as if he had a heart attack, even the problem was a far different heart problem. Even the best medical providers somehow make stupid mistakes that cost lives.

A medical doctor who taught allergies at the Oregon State Medical School, had his good lung removed in a mistake during lung cancer surgery. He fell into deep depression, knowing that his life would soon be over because of this.

Lawsuits have forced many medical providers to use identification bands and for staff to read these before tests are taken or medications are prescribed. This has cut down mistakes dramaticly, resulting in far greater patient safety. And careful computer records also have dramaticly improved patient safety as well.

There are some serious cases of defective products such as flammable children's pajamas, that only lawsuits took off the market after the government failed to act. Women were dying of toxic shock syndrome due to feminine hygene products and the government failed to act, so lawsuits forced warning labels on these products, contributing to far less consumer deaths. Other lawsuits forced defective baby cribs or other items from the marketplace when government failed to act.

The courts are a serious place and need to be respected. Lawsuit damage caps only hurt consumers or those who suffer real losses. Lawsuits in some cases are the only way to force dangerous and defective products from the marketplace when corporations fail to act responsibly. Lowering the seriousness of the courts down to level where lawsuits are launched because you resemble a celebrity is a whole new level of foolishness. Either praise or blame your parents if you resemble someone famous, and leave the courts out it. The courts are for serious issues and serious cases. "I (Don't) Want To Be Like Mike", is hardly the proper grounds for a major lawsuit.


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