Let me have it..

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with regard to the drunk driving lawsuit issue (Feb. 10 entry).. or anything else, for that matter.

-- Paulineee (paulineee_@hotmail.com), February 16, 2001


Only if the person was under age or mentally retarded can I see any reason to hold others responsible for drunken actions. You are of a legal age, you drive drunk, you have an accident - - - who had their foot on the gas and their hands on the steering wheel ?

-- Denver doug (ionoi@webt.net), February 17, 2001.

This was one of the few issues Paulineee and I have disagreed on... In a private email, I pointed out to her that suing the employer who had the office party from which the woman left in an inebriated state, and consequently smashed her car (after visiting a bar, as well,) would have been like me suing the employers who allowed smoking in their offices many years ago, increasing my risk of lung cancer, and exposing non-smoking co-workers to second hand smoke. Paulineee responded by saying it was my choice to light up. Well, the employer of the woman in question didn't pour drinks down her throat - she chose to lift the glass to her lips. Just because we are at a party with an "open bar" (unlimited drinks) doesn't mean we have to get drunk, and holding an employer responsible would be like blaming them for our weight gain after too many trips to the buffet table. Of course, the consequences are different, but the concept of blame is the same.

-- Stephanie (stevie@idsi.net), February 17, 2001.

Well the crux of it, to me, is that the employer saw that she was drunk; knew enough to make a semblance of an attempt to prevent her from driving; but didn't go far enough to stop that from happening, and for that I think he SHARES some responsibility for the resulting events.

I'm not saying the woman is blameless.. far from it. All I'm saying is that the employer is to blame as well. He could have stopped it. He didn't.

And yes, she chose to drink, and drink too much. But when the time came to make the decision whether to DRIVE, she was too impaired to judge correctly. The employer obviously saw that but didn't do enough to stop her. At the very worst, if she just grabbed her keys and left, he should have called the police.

If she'd have rammed into a school bus, the parents wouldn't be on his case as well as hers???

I'd feel much more comfortable with it if the woman didn't get the monetary settlement - I think it should go to organizations such as AA or MADD.

-- Pauline (p_brock@hotmail.com), February 17, 2001.

Uh, this isn't about the drunk driving issue... but I thought you might want to know about this... Remember when you wrote about the proliferation of Mr. Potato Head figures all around the state of Rhode Island? Well... some of them are now available for sale... the six months or so that they were intended to be on display has passed and some of them are now available for sale to the highest bidder (proceeds to charity). You could have your very own imported Mr. PotatoHead in front of your house!

-- Jim (jimsjournal@yahoo.com), February 18, 2001.

I continue to be of the opinion that blaming the employer for not doing enough to dissuade this woman from driving is taking the stigma attached to Cain's infamous question "am I my brother's keeper" too far. I grow weary of seeing others blamed for the actions of those who make the wrong choices. Personal liability seems to have suffered a devastating blow in this Age of the Almighty Lawsuit. For the record, I think such a suit would be warranted if the woman HAD rammed into a school bus, but I still believe she alone should be the responsible party, and the one who would deserve to be sued.

P.S. Mr. Potato Head?? *Perk*

-- Stephanie (stevie@idsi.net), February 18, 2001.

Without getting super-philosophical, I guess you have to decide where to draw the line between moral responsibility and legal responsibility. I agree with the person who said that if the employee were not capable of making decisions for herself (mentally incapacitated or underage), the employer should be held responsible. But the employer offered to take care of transportation -- does his responsibility end there?

Part of it would depend, I guess, on how drunk the employee was. If she was just a little louder and more cheerful than usual, taking her keys may not have been seen as a viable option. If she were falling down on the floor, dancing on a table, or reeking of alcohol, something more should have been done.

I guess I would want lots more details before making a decision, but I'm drawn to this because my employer has a "wind-down" every single Friday night at a local bar, and at least half of the people there shouldn't be driving themselves home afterward. I may be very close to a similar situation in the future!

Julie's Journal.

-- Julie V (vandenboom@msn.com), February 18, 2001.

Hi Julie.. Well I hope you're never anywhere near such a situation. I guess your employer's intentions are good but he(?)'s looking for trouble. Why do they have to hold these things in bars.. what's wrong with a good old coffee shop... (yeah yeah I know..)

-- Pauline (p_brock@hotmail.com), February 18, 2001.

I think it's a good idea -- and he keeps a rule of "no shots, no doubles" in place, but people can get around it. Maybe I should forward the story to my boss. He'd probably keep having his "wind- down" but might make us all sign waivers.

-- Julie V (vandenboom@msn.com), February 19, 2001.

Paulineee's latest journal entry is well thought out, and she presents an intelligent, impassioned argument. Nevertheless, it is still one I strongly disagree with. She says the employer "allowed (that word rubs me the wrong way - she is not a child, and he is not her father, teacher or parole officer) his employee out on the roads drunk." What was he supposed to do, beyond offering to call her husband or a cab - physically restrain her? Paulineee will probably say yes, but that just doesn't sit right with me. Our hostess asks "What if his wife's car had found its way into that driver's path?" My answer to that is, the woman who was driving drunk should be held solely accountable, just as in the other hypothetical case involving a school bus. Paulineee brings up our moral responsibility to society, and of course I agree that "we have to learn to answer to each other." We need to be more tolerant and open-minded. We need to respect differences in cultures, religions, etc. But that doesn't mean we should have to assume liability for the wrong choices other people make. Personally, I think the moral structure of our society is threatened and weakened by the increasingly popular allocation of blame. What's to stop people from doing the wrong thing if they can successfully point the finger of accusation at someone else?

-- Stephanie (stevie@idsi.net), February 20, 2001.

I agree with Stephanie. I believe that the employer fulfilled any obligation by offering to call a cab. This isn't to say that he had the flippant "well, it's her funeral" attitude afterward. He probably felt pretty guilty. If the employee had crashed into the hypothetical busload of school children or had she been killed, my guess is that this guy would have felt awful.

If he had tackled the woman and taken her keys, he would have been open to a whole other kind of lawsuit. We can what-if about that one as well. Drunk people aren't known for being particularly docile or easy to approach.

And what if a complete stranger had seen this woman in the bar and offered to call her a cab? This good samaritan would have, by publicly recognizing that the woman was drunk enough to need assistance, set himself up to be involved in the lawsuit as well.

By assigning blame to a person who failed to prevent an incident, the courts are going to assure that in the future, people mind their own business and look the other way. "Drunk guy? Didn't see him. Thought he was sober. Would have ridden with him." Or better yet, "Hell, I was drunk too!"

Just my two cents. This is a great forum, a lot better than some of the pettiness and mean-spirited stuff I've been seeing elsewhere lately!

Julie's Journal.

-- Julie Vandenboom (vandenboom@msn.com), February 20, 2001.

To put my oar in again . . . The employer had several courses open to him. Not have an event where liquor is served. Appealed to the group as a whole to help keep the woman from driving. Called her husband or SO on the quiet, asked him to call as ask for her, see if he could handle the situation. Called to the police and asked them to at least catch the woman as she was driving away and give her a breathalyzer test. Call the paramedics maybe ? I once was an employer albiet on a small scale, at the time I was still drinking and would occasionally meet some employees in a bar - but not as an official thing. And I would leave after a couple of drinks. If I were an employer now meeting in a bar is out as I no longer drink.

-- Denver doug (ionoi@webtv.net), February 20, 2001.

My mind is slipping on some of the facts in the story... the drunk was suing her employer? He had a responsibility but not so much to her as society!

I do believe in the States some you can hold an employer criminally responsbible, and here you can try anything in a civil court.

If she damaged me or my property I'd haul her backside to the criminal end and maybe the employer, then in the civil end I'd go after both!

The drunk that hit me was given probation in the criminal end and I got a meager amount in the civil. In those days I didn't find out where he had come out of to consider any other litigation. I figured I was healed physically... now look....

A drunk behind the wheel is the same as the person that picks up a gun to go after someone, you'd stop them wouldn't you?

-- bonnie (texasbonnie1@yahoo.com), February 20, 2001.

This lawsuit business is getting out of hand. Common sense is slowly dying. It's all "what if" this and "what if" that.

A while ago I had to reanimate a man on a railway platform. In vain, I'm afraid. He died, probably of a heart attack. Now if this would have happened in the US or Canada would I have to fear legal actions of his children because I didn't manage to save their dad? Looks like it.

They might say "You're not a proper doctor, so you have contributed to his death" Nonsense of course, but still... It's just the kind of nonsense lawsuits like these are based on.

So what's next? If someone is dying you just turn around and walk away? For fear of being sued?

Your society is dying, people.

Back to the subject: If *you* are drunk, *you* are responsible for getting drunk in the first place. Second, you know when you get drunk your judgement gets poor (to say the least), and you also know you shouldn't drive a car.

Other people may try to stop you from driving, but your stupidity is not their problem. If they let you go, fine. If not, even better. But they should never be held responsible, because that'll kill whatever little social niceties you have left.

-/|/- Rien www.rienz.net

-- Rien (public1@xs4all.nl), February 21, 2001.

Rien is right.. I remember being told, way back, that doctors are taught not to help anyone on the street without being asked, lest they be sued. Whether you should be LEGALLY liable for letting someone drive drunk is more difficult.. I'm still convinced you are morally liable for neglect if you do. Not neglect of the drunk, but neglect of society at large. It's NOT the same as smoking; it's not even the same as preventing a suicide - drunk drivers often impact (pun intended!) upon innocent third (fourth, fifth..) parties. Allowing legal liability for this does open up a whole host of problems; but somehow the message has to get out that it IS our business; legal channels may not be the best way to do that, though.

-- Pauline (p_brock@hotmail.com), February 21, 2001.

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