Here we go again, one more example of how courts and juries seem to believe that individuals should not be responsible for their own actions.
As reported in this story (on CNN), “Dustin Dibble, 25, landed in the [New York City] subway tracks after a late night watching a hockey game at a bar with friends April 23, 2006. A downtown N train ran over him, severing his right leg.”. Yep, he was drunk, more than twice the legal limit had he been driving. And he mistakenly stumbled onto the train tracks.
He’s lucky to be alive. But, no, that’s not good enough. He sued the Metropolitan Transport Authority. And he won! “The jury ruled Tuesday that Dibble was 35 percent responsible for the accident, so his monetary compensation was also reduced by 35 percent — from $3,594,943 to $2,336,713.”
35% responsible?!? He drank, and did so by choice! He impaired his own judgment, and then tempted natural selection. Had he have been killed he’d have been a nominee for The Darwin Awards.
So, how did the jury reach such a ridiculous decision? The only explanation I can find is that perhaps they truly were a jury of his peers, people as stupid as Dustin himself.

11 thoughts

  1. yeah, no one is responsible for anything anymore.
    @g – why would you assume this has anything to do with the legalization of drugs?

  2. Seems like more an argument FOR legalization, to the extent that legalization of currently controlled substances presuposes that each individual who chooses to "use" also accepts full responsibility. Drugs have to be illegal to the extent that government assumes the consequences of a user’s actions are up to the taxpayers to cover.

  3. Why did he get the money? Simple… A jury of 12 human beings are generally more than happy to give money from some big faceless company or government institution over to a person they feel sorry for. He’s suffered, ergo he deserves compensation for that suffering, and we all know that the Government and Corporations just horde money anyhow, so why not make one of them pay.
    I wonder if the 12 people on the Jury would have found him 35% responsible if they had been required to chip in their $0.30 per person in New York that this will cost the New York government?

  4. Ben, are you seriously arguing that the transit authority has no responsibility to stop when there is a person on the tracks?
    Suppose I am waiting peacefully on the train platform. I’m not impaired in any way, but I suffer a seizure and fall onto the tracks. The driver sees me on the tracks, has time to stop, and fails to do so. Who is responsible in this case?
    If you accept that the transit authority is responsible in the case of the seizure, then it shouldn’t really matter WHY the person was on the tracks– if the driver saw the person on the tracks, could have stopped, and didn’t, the transit authority is at least partially liable. Otherwise there’s no reason for a train to HAVE a driver– just let them be controlled by computers.
    I don’t have a lot of patience for the large cash awards given out by our legal system in most cases, and the 3.6 million dollar compensation figure seems excessive to me to begin with. I also might argue that the responsibility division should be 50/50, not 35/65. But the concept that the transit authority shares responsibility for the accident strikes me as generally correct.

  5. The better question might be what game was he watching on TV, and what team he was rooting for. Now, if he’s, say, a Rangers fan, and the jury was packed with Rangers fan, well, the Rangers have had such a sorry year, anybody could understand a fan getting drunk trying to get the misery behind them. So of course the jury went with him. Now, if the victim was a Devils fan, though, well, he’d be luck to get a dime from the jury.

  6. If you’ve ever sat on a jury (I did for a drunk driving case), it would be all too clear to you how this kind of verdict could be handed down.
    On the jury that I was on, everyone (except me) tended to react emotionally to the testimony instead of dealing with it in a detached, logical manner.
    I think the first jury vote was 10 to acquit, 2 to convict (including myself). I went to the whiteboard and reiterated the facts of the case, pointing out several holes with both the prosecution and the defense. In the end, we found the guy guilty.
    Afterwards the judge came in to thank us for our service. One of the jurors who was still a little uncomfortable with the verdict asked the judge what he would have done. His reply was that he would have found the guy guilty based on the same facts that I reiterated in the jury room and given him a nearly identical sentence.
    Programmers on juries must be an attorney’s worst nightmare.

  7. Alright Steve! If this whole Internet thing doesn’t pick up steam, and you decide to run for office, I’ll support you for an Attorney General position! 😉
    — Ben

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