McDonald’s had been warned

To the editor:

This is in response to Esmael Candelaria’s April 22 letter, “Frivolous lawsuit,” about the jury’s punitive damage award of $500 million against Health Plan of Nevada. Health Plan of Nevada is a subsidiary of United Health Care, a concern whose net income in 2012 totaled 5.5 billion dollars. The jury took account of those facts and felt that the award made was reasonable and prudent.

Mr. Candelaria brings up the lawsuit against McDonald’s brought by Ms. Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman, stating that she was awarded $3 million for “spilling hot coffee on herself.” The facts of that matter are these: Ms. Liebeck offered to settle her claim for the amount of $20,000, but McDonald’s refused to do so. She was hospitalized for eight days as a result of the third degree burns to her inner thighs, buttocks, genital and groin areas. Her counsel obtained documents from McDonald’s showing that more than 700 claims were made by customers burned by their coffee in the 10-year period 1982-1992. McDonald’s asserted that their customers buy coffee on their way to work or home intending to consume it there.

The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages which was reduced to $160,000 because they found Ms. Liebeck 20 percent at fault in the spill. While Mr. Candelaria’s representation of a $3 million award (the jury awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages, a sum equal to approximately two days of McDonald’s coffee sales at the time) the facts are that the trial court subsequently reduced the punitive award to $480,000, or three times the compensatory damages, even though the judge called McDonald’s conduct reckless, callous and willful.

Citing the McDonald’s case as proof that such lawsuits are “stupid” and the result of ill advised decisions by juries who listen to the facts of a case and decide accordingly is specious at best. If we don’t hold companies accountable for their actions, particularly when they’re detrimental to a group as a whole, what is the purpose of a judicial system at all?

MICHAEL F O’LEARY

LAS VEGAS

Reckless walkers

To the editor:

Monday through Friday I drive on Decatur between Lake Mead and Russell and every day there are pedestrians crossing traffic outside the crosswalks. What’s worse, I know that a lot of time and money went into the creation of the Stoehr crosswalk near Vegas and once again this morning as I passed it, a woman stood in the same median 20 feet from the actual crosswalk and stepped into the traffic lanes.

During both the morning and evening drive down Decatur, near Vegas and also near Flamingo, people walk out into the street. Often they don’t even wait for a break in traffic, but actually step into the path of oncoming drivers, causing cars to screech to a stop. Police do drunk driving checkpoints all the time. They need do just as many jaywalking checkpoints and start at either of these locations. Drivers need to show due caution, but pedestrians need to follow the rules of the road just the same.

CATHARINE LINDSAY

LAS VEGAS

Gun control

To the editor:

To the gun control supporters who rushed to demand more gun control laws immediately after learning of the massacre of the Sandy Hook schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, I ask, “What new laws are you planning to demand because of the recent bombings in Boston?”

Let’s review the facts about the Boston bombings: no guns were used to kill three innocent people, maim dozens, and injure as many as 180 people during that marathon. The murderers (or terrorists, if you prefer) used explosives that were believed hidden inside pressure cookers. I believe it is probably already against the law to use these devices in the manner they were used that day.

What should we demand now that could prevent a similar incident? Should we outlaw pressure cookers? Outlaw marathon races? Outlaw large crowds mingling on sidewalks? Outlaw mass murder?

Oh, wait, that last one already is against the law, and that didn’t do much good.

Get real, people. There is no law that prevents crime, they serve only as a means to punish lawbreakers. Criminals ignore laws. They always have and they always will.

If laws prevented crimes, then there would be no robberies or murders or drug dealers or speeders on our streets or any other crimes being committed anywhere. We don’t live in a perfect world, and we never will. We live in a violent world and the sooner gun control enthusiasts realize that fact the safer we all will be.

If gun control supporters still choose to remain unarmed and thus are willing to become crime victims, that is their prerogative. However, they have no right to demand that others follow their stupidity.

One more thing: The firearms those bombers used in their shootout with police a few days after the bombings reportedly were unregistered weapons. Now they’re in real trouble with the gun control crowd, because the murderers didn’t register their guns.

STEVEN G. HAYES SR.

LAS VEGAS

Fusion center

To the editor:

The Fusion Center operated by local authorities to assist in the safety of Las Vegas Citizenry and visitors is in jeopardy of closing due to cuts in finance by the federal government. Yet Sen. Harry Reid, the supposed second most important elected official in Washington, is attempting to obtain $5 billion dollars for the train to Victorville.

The government lost $600 million with Solyndra, another $500 million with Tesla and who knows how much more money in green failures, yet we can’t find the money to help keep us safe. Another wonderful job by our esteemed U.S. Senator, Harry Reid.

DOUGLAS MANOOKIAN

LAS VEGAS

Air traffic control

To the editor:

How is it with this administrative sequester, the air traffickers cannot maintain the same schedule? There’s the same funding as the last budget plus an increase that is between 2 and 4 percent less than expected.

Are you kidding me? I’m sure there is discretionary funding in this new budget that allows for the usual waste and excess. So what’s this hoax being perpetrated? We are being put on a flight of fantasy.

ARDELLE BELLMAN

LAS VEGAS

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