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Suits That Donít Fit

November 11, 2002

Recently, I became aware of another of those outrageous lawsuits which exceeds the bounds of reason. Following the college students suing McDonaldís, and smokers suing tobacco companies, an Ohio man is suing a gambling casino. Why are these companies being sued? For providing a product or service used by these individuals.

The premise of this latest lawsuit is that the casino should have identified this man as a compulsive gambler and expelled him from the premises before he lost $175,000, his entire life savings, his house, and all his possessions. He is suing for this amount in damages, and this amount again in punitive damages.

The crime? A casino, operating under and following all legal statutes relating to gambling in Ohio and the United States of America, and providing a service for which this man took great advantage.

His claim is that the casino readmitted him, possibly advertising specifically to him, a full year after the casino was asked, and complied, to bar him from the premises. He also argues that the casino should have recognized his problem and stopped him earlier.

The way that I see it, he wants this casino to take full responsibility for his stupidity, and pay him for his mistakes. He believes that this casino should, out of millions of responsible patrons, pick out the few individuals with problems, and get them help. For some of these patrons, though, $175,000 is mere pocket change.

What this man wants is a responsible figure to guide him in the right direction, to prevent future mistakes of this magnitude. I lost the need for such parenting when I was in my teens. I know that addictions are serious problems that cannot be dismissed as one manís irresponsibility, and that one can be genetically predisposed to have an addictive personality. But it is a personal problem, not one for which a casino, the courts, or the government should be responsible.

Does that mean that alcoholics may now sue the convenience store that sold them their beer?

Not that I care about a casino having to give this man $350,000 for his own idiocy, but it is the repercussions that I fear. Will this cause a government agency to be given regulatory power over an individualís recreational spending according to income and expenses? Probably not, but a ruling in favor of the gambling addict is certainly a step in that direction.

And I enjoy the right to waste my money any way that I see fit.

Patrick Covert, Lyndonville, N.Y.


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