The Lawsuit Lottery
Not too long ago in Portland a man got separated from his kid on the Max train. It was a terrible thing, and the train driver didn't stop to let him out -- fortunately a woman at the train station saw it happen and stayed with the kid until the dad was able to change trains at the next stop and get back.
I remember the story as a heartwarming example of how people actually do step in and take care of each other, that the woman on the platform did a good thing by watching a stranger's child and everything came out okay in the end.
The driver got fired for negligence and lying to Tri-Met (he apparently told his bosses he didn't do anything because the intercom was broken, but that doesn't seem to be true). Overall I felt the problem was resolved -- the kid was okay, and the driver won't be in a position to cause such a problem again.
Except the dad is now suing Tri-Met for $300,000 for 'emotional distress.' I'm not saying it wasn't distressing, but it was an accident, and the problems that led to the accident have been fixed, so 'sending a message to Tri-Met' is redundant.
$300K sounds like a lawyer number to me -- one of those that's big enough to be worth pursuing on a long shot, but small enough that it might just be easier for Tri-Met to settle. That settlement, of course, comes out of money we all pay in taxes, and out of a transportation budget that's already strained with fewer people working and, therefore, fewer people paying those taxes.
I just wish that when bad things happen and everything comes out okay that people would decide to 'send a message' that our community works, that we take care of each other, and that we don't need to profit from the government because one ex-employee was an idiot.