$28 BILLION FOR SMOKER!

Californian Betty Bullock – that’s her real name, we’re not making this up – may become one of the richest people on earth. Did she inherit a vast fortune? No. Did she invent an incredible new technology? No. Did she win the world’s biggest lottery? No. Betty has smoked her way to fabulous wealth.

Betty Bullock is making her fortune the American way – by a lawsuit claiming ignorance and punishing a major corporation. Betty, now 64 years old, claims, despite almost omnipresent evidence, that she didn’t know that smoking could cause the lung cancer that is now killing her. But the big money didn’t result from the jury’s efforts to compensate her for suffering – the compensatory damages were a relatively modest $850,000. The jury – and it must have been quite a collection of sages – decided that they needed to add a little on top to make sure the big, bad, cigarette manufacturer was punished for its sins – and awarded Bullock punitive damages of $28 billion.

$28 Billion dollars. Not $28 million, which would be absurd enough. Not a class action. $28 billion for one person – more than the gross national product of many small countries. How long would it take an average American to earn $28 billion dollars? Over 933 THOUSAND years! A mind boggling, inconceivable amount.

(For those Outraged readers without a law degree: compensatory damages are given to, as the name implies, compensate the plaintiff for losses or suffering. If the jury does not feel that the compensatory damages are adequate to persuade the guilty party to desist from such actions in the future, they may, in some cases, award additional punitive damages. Although the plaintiff has been made whole by the compensatory damages, they also receive the punitive damages, as a sort of legal bonus. Some legal authorities believe that punitive damages should never be more than 3 or 4 times the amount of the compensatory damages – in this case they were 33,000 times greater. Liability cases such as this are almost always instigated by lawyers working on contingency fees ranging from 25-40% of the total award.)

Want to eradicate an industry? No need to go to the trouble of lobbying Congress and passing a law. Find a few trial lawyers – they’ll be glad to help – and some jurors from the seemingly limitless number of fools in America. Asbestos litigation has already made millions for lawyers and ruined companies like Johns Manville. People who choose to smoke now pay more for cigarettes in order to fund legal fees and settlements to smokers. If you like to drink, or eat fattening foods, or smoke cigars, or engage in any other activity which could be considered harmful – and what can’t? – you’ll soon be paying much more for your pleasure in order to fund the lavish lifestyles of trial lawyers and their plaintiff accomplices.

Of course, outrageous jury awards are just one of the many examples of lost reason. Abandoned and impoverished children in South American cities are killed by police because the children are a nuisance. Terrorists kill and maim innocent people in the name of God. Housing prices rise to the stratosphere, as stock prices fall and layoffs mount.

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