“Man gets $10 million for Segway accident”

by Walter Olson on December 22, 2011

The circumstances were unusual — an injury during a blindfolded, helmetless demonstration — but a legal cloud might still be forming for the unique personal transportation device. [Boston Herald via Miller]

P.S. Connecticut Law Tribune (via TortsProf) has much more on the case.

{ 11 comments }

1 James 12.22.11 at 10:27 am

What is the point of this article being posted to on this blog? That a lot of money was involved? I read this blog because I am interested in hearing theory and ideas, not just being goaded into being stirred up into a blind fury like some talk radio listener by things that sound as if they might be facts but, upon closer inspection, lack a certain gravitas. So, what’s the point, here, Walter? Should I be outraged that a man who (per the article) suffered brain damage at a Segway-sponsored-and-monitored demonstration of a Segway vehicle won a lawsuit against the company that put them on one of their newfangled devices, helmeted and blindfolded, doubtlessly assuring him that he was safe? Really.. this is a real question. Since I’m sure not going to get outraged simply at the fact “a judgement of a large dollar amount took place.” Is this lawsuit an example of that we are “overlawyered”, and if so, why?

2 Walter Olson 12.22.11 at 11:04 am

Like Ronald Miller, who linked this story first, I found the award noteworthy even though the chances would appear approximately nil that its fact pattern will ever come up again. What do you want to bet some lawyer cites it as previous misconduct in pursuing punitive damages against the manufacturer over some more routine Segway-fall case in the future? What do you want to bet the future behavior of many players, including insurers, plaintiff’s lawyers, and perhaps investors, will be influenced by the fact of a $10 million verdict in a way that a $500,000 verdict would not have done?

More broadly, James, if the selection of topics for posting on this blog infuriates you, you might consider 1) skipping over the posts you find pointless; 2) skipping the whole blog if the proportion of “theory and ideas” drops too low for your taste; or best of all 3) starting a blog with a balance you like better.

3 Bumper 12.22.11 at 11:11 am

Well, James, it appears you were able to sufficiently acquire your desired outrage anyway. So as we say here in Katrinaville, “What ever floats your boat” and as Officer Barbrady says on South Park, “Nothing to see here folks, move along.”

4 Keith 12.22.11 at 11:39 am

Walter,

The circumstances weren’t unusual. This was at least the second time that Segway was sued by a person who fell off a Segway while blindfolded. The new twist is that Segway’s employees set up the situation in the Connecticut lawsuit.
If our tort system worked, maybe Segway would have learned that letting people use a Segway blindfolded is too dangerous to allow, and Mr. Ezzo wouldn’t have suffered a brain injury. We can hope that a $10 million verdict will decrease the odds of this happening again.

5 James 12.23.11 at 8:40 am

Walter: I am interested in the reform of the US legal system. Your blog often provides valuable examples of this and goes out of its way to explain WHY reforms in certain areas are necessary. In this case, you just posted a story and expected like minded people to nod along with you. I am not a lawyer, but I am interested in issues of public policy. I honestly am interested (Bumper’s gratuitous nonsense notwithstanding) as to why you feel this was worth posting as an example of our country being “overlawyered.”

That said, I find your second “more broadly” paragraph to be beneath you. In a word, you are saying:

“I am not interested in convincing honestly curious people like yourself, and, in fact, if you don’t already “get my point” from the mere fact that I posted a link to an article about a judgement about a severely injured man, then you can just feck off. Furthermore, I provide a comment section, but tell people who disagree to go start their own blogs.”

In other words, you more or less are telling me that you are interested in an echo chamber. While I strongly disagree with your libertarian politics, I did (and probably still do) think that you were at least a bit more intellectually honest than this approach.

And, your choice of terms “infuriates me” is a from-whole-cloth invention on your part. I was confused by the fact that an article was presented that did little more than outline a judgement, and a seemingly reasonable one to me given the severity of the injury and the reckless behavior of a major corporation. Therefore, I asked for clarification.

As we see from Keith’s reply, whatever conclusions are to be drawn from this case, well, it’s not clear to a layperson like me what they are. You have provided none. So, again, I ask you – what’s the point?

It is not so wrong for an honestly interested person to ask for a clarification, and that you apparently take so much offense at this implies that you should perhaps re-examine your own priorities in running this blog and specifically what it is that you are trying to accomplish. I’d love to see intelligent legal reform in the USA, but I’ve also been in enough countries where broken legal systems provide insufficient protection to genuinely wronged parties.

6 Melvin H. 12.23.11 at 10:31 am

James: “I’d like to see intelligent legal reform in the USA, but I’ve been in enough countries where broken legal systems provide insufficient protection to genuinely wronged parties.”
———————
James, while this case may not fit in that parameter……maybe you need to look closer to home to see a “broken legal system…..”, and Overlawyered has given examples too numerous to mention on the broken, contradictory, and baffling legal system in the USA.

7 nevins 12.23.11 at 1:54 pm

Well he has a job, and in this economy that’s more than his peers who finished college can say.

8 Bumper 12.23.11 at 6:49 pm

Well, James, since you seem to be so fond of my “gratuitous nonsense” I guess I’ll just have to whip up a tad bit more for you.

First, this is a free site, our host doesn’t get paid to do and he doesn’t take any advertising. The time he puts into updating it is his own. We all get what we pay for, most of us appreciate it and keep coming back for more of the same.

Second, our host is human, the selection of stories is his own, while I can’t say that I have found every single article proffered here to be of profound interest, the vast majority are worthy of the masthead.

Third, in the words of Shakespeare “Thou doth protest too much.” In short, your responses far exceed the news worthiness of the original article, thus…

Fourth, I am led to assume that perhaps you are a shill for the defense. The sheer absurdity of your two comments compared to the original article itself makes me wonder what kind of liquid you put your oars in, and…

Fifth, the first rule of foxholes is when you are in over your head, quit digging.

9 Captain Obvious 12.23.11 at 8:09 pm

and there’s always the disclaimer–

http://overlawyered.com/2007/12/a-reminder-2/

10 Bill H 12.25.11 at 10:26 pm

Or how about simply, the story suited Walter, James. Since it’s his website, his content, and his post, you really don’t have much to say, except “oops, sorry”.

11 Robert 12.28.11 at 10:27 am

The Public seems to dislike Segways in general. I think they’re perceived as rich-persons toys and not mobility devices.

I’ve rented them on several occasions and get all sorts of derisive comments!

When the product first came out, for example, San Francisco promptly voted to ban them from sidewalks. In arguments, they were described as elitist toys.

http://articles.sfgate.com/2002-11-26/bay-area/17570731_1_segway-matt-dailida-sidewalks

(Not that I think using motor vehicles on s idewalks is a Good Idea, but this was a pre-emptive law that wasn’t addressing an actual problem or concern)

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