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Jewish World Review July 25, 2003 / 25 Tamuz, 5763

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

"Ain't-my-fault" lawsuits are becoming more creative | Scottish drinkers are attempting to ruin my social life.

According to the Washington Times, a dozen heavy drinkers in Glasgow, Scotland are going to sue drink makers for not warning them about the dangers of alcohol. I don't know how the Scots got the jump on America, land of the "ain't-my-fault" lawsuit, but they did, and now I'm really worried.

I'm no expert on the subject, but the turning point appears to be the infamous coffee spill. A woman was awarded nearly a half a million dollars because the McDonald's coffee she knocked onto her lap was, well, hot.

Then lawyers cracked open the tobacco companies. Sure, tobacco makers were sneaky in their marketing years ago, but for 30 years the federal government has been all over them. Everyone in America knows smoking is addictive and unhealthy, yet some people smoke anyhow. And when they get sick, they sue and win big settlements, such as the California woman who was recently awarded $28 billion.

As many predicted, our slick lawyers next shifted their attention to fatty foods. Armed with new studies that claim tasty treats are addictive, lawyers are filing suits on behalf of overweight people - I mean "people of size" - who eat whole packages of Oreo cookies in one sitting. The food companies, you see, are deliberately luring these helpless victims into unhealthy behavior for economic gain.

That brings us to the alcohol suit in Scotland. The plaintiffs argue that alcohol addiction has ruined their lives. They say the alcohol industry failed to warn them of the risks involved in drinking. And lawyers are following the tobacco lawsuit playbook to demonstrate that it is the companies - not the drinkers - who are at fault.

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"Alcohol is now promoted in the same way that cigarettes were in the 1950s," says attorney Jim Rice. "Manufacturers want us to believe that drinking alcohol is sexy and trendy."

Sexy and trendy? I'm shocked - absolutely shocked - that spirits and beer makers would use such advertising to make their product appealing to us. No wonder the poor helpless consumers have no choice but to drink excessively to the detriment of their jobs and families and other daily obligations.

But we all know that sooner or later some of these "victims" are going to win large settlements in Scotland. And in no time such lawsuits will make their way to America.

Sure, Americans are warned of the dangers of alcohol, the result of federal law. But we all know it's just a matter of time before a pregnant woman, under the influence of alcohol, will have a catastrophic injury because she grew drowsy when operating heavy machinery. She'll win millions because the warning label was too small.

And that's when it will get personal.

The cost of the lawsuits will be passed along to the consumer, you see. That means that all the healthful benefits that alcohol delivers - the American Heart Association says one drink a day for women and two for men SAVES 80,000 lives every year - will cost more, which will affect MY health.

Alcohol, when used in moderation, is a healthy thing. By encouraging the women in my company to drink, alcohol makes me more handsome and more likely to win the lass over. And aren't attractive women an essential component of any man's long-term health?

Some people who drink get an urge to smoke cigarettes, and is this not also a good thing? Smoking diminishes a person's appetite, which prevents weight gain, and is not weight gain the leading cause of obesity?

Above all, drinking encourages camaraderie. Study after study shows that individuals with a solid network of friends live longer. Well, alcohol encourages such social interaction. In fact, some of my best memories - albeit they are vague memories - have involved alcohol.

But you won't hear any lawyers touting these benefits when they attack the alcohol companies. You won't hear anyone fighting for the rights of responsible drinkers, who are going to have to pay a lot more dough - a tax, if you will - to cover the cost of those "victims" who blame the alcohol companies for making them drink too much.

That is going to leave us drinkers with only one option. We're going to have to sue.

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07/18/03: The real story never makes for good summertime drama in Washington
07/11/03: Government bureaucrats, not elected officials, are really the ones determining what people and organizations can and can't do
07/03/03: Overworked Americans
06/27/03: The Metrosexual Male
06/20/03: Crime Etiquette in Washington, D.C.
06/13/03: My Father, the Thief and the MGB
06/05/03: An Open Letter to Bill and Hillary
05/30/03: We are a busy people
05/23/03: Liar, Liar
05/16/03: Laffer all the way to the bank
05/09/03: My mother's house
05/02/03: Teaching the Iraqis how to protest
04/25/03: Iraqi TV
04/21/03: Explaining Democracy to the Iraqis
04/11/03: Major increases to the beer tax? That's a cheap shot right to the beer gut
04/04/03: War humor
03/31/03: Dolphins, PETA and the USA
03/21/03: Traffic Wars
03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
03/03/03: My Family's Tragic Secret: We're French
02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
02/07/03: Making quiet sacrifices
01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell