Growing up, we had one simple rule that governed our house: You live with the consequences of your behavior. If you don't study and fail a test, learn from your mistake. If you lie, even at the prodding of adventurous best friends, there go the car keys.
Fair enough, right?
This rule guided our house for many years, but sadly, it does not seem to apply in today's legal system. When people do not like the consequences of their decisions or actions, they immediately look for someone to blame and sometimes someone to sue.
Too often, our society has abandoned all sense of personal responsibility and replaced it with and replaced it with a sense of entitlement. The somebody's gotta pay' attitude is pervasive, which does note bode will for future generations.
When our courts reward people for failing to take responsibility for their actions, we're saying that such behavior is OK and should be rewarded. Is that the message we want to send our children? Do we really want to teach them that they can always point the finger of blame?
Most people would say no. That's why East Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse is encouraging area sixth and seventh graders to start thinking about the importance of personal responsibility as part of our second-annual essay contest. It's never too early for children to take ownership of their behavior and think about how they can exercise personal responsibility in everyday life. Too many people do not.
When you consider the following lawsuits, some with multi-million dollar settlements, it is painfully clear that many people run from responsibility and rush to point fingers when something goes wrong.
Consider the teenagers who tried to sue a fast food chain after they gained weight from eating there nearly everyday. They claimed not to have known that three fast food meals a day would pack on the pounds.
Or the mom who lost her son when he drank and then drove 90 mph into a utility pole. She blamed the beer manufacturer for not protecting underage drinkers from the dangers of alcohol and also blamed her son's girlfriend for allowing him behind the wheel of her car.
Of course there's the man who gambled away his life savings and sued the riverboat casino where he lost his nest egg. He claimed the casino, after expelling him from the premises for his excessive gambling, lured him back with enticing mailings and advertisements.
Many of these types of suits are dismissed. But they still take money, time and energy to defend. As a result, people with legitimate claims are stuck in line behind the gambler with empty pockets or the teenagers who frequented fast food restaurants.
While you may laugh at these ridiculous cases, there's nothing funny about the cost of all of this. the U.S. tort system cost Americans $246 billion in 2003 or the equivalent of $845 for every man, woman and child in our country.
In fact, lawsuit abuse drives up consumer prices, hurts business and jobs as employers must cope with ever-increasing liability costs, and even threatens our access to quality health care and life-saving devices or treatments.