How litigations affect our daily life

Being a law-abiding (read: law-fearing) country, America does have several lawsuits in the distant past that still affects its citizens until this day.

One personal example I found quaintly annoying was when I came to the next-door pharmacy.

Me: Excuse me sir, do you have any medicine for [disease undisclosed]?
Pharmacist: Let me take a look at that.
Me: [showing the pharmacist my disease, which was quite visible externally]
Pharmacist: I'm afraid you have to consult a physician, sir.
Me: But I want a self-treatment...
Pharmacist: [getting more assertive] You need to see a doctor.
Me: Alright, seeing a doctor it will be then! [BIG SIGH] So is there any first-aid self-treatment that I can use before I....consult the physician?
Pharmacist: Well, you can always use the [medicine undisclosed], but I can't guarantee if..
Me: And where can you find that medicine?
Pharmacist: It's on the bottom of the shelf on the third aisle.
Me: Okay, that's all I need to know, thanks!

When I confided in a friend on how insistent the pharmacist was in recommending me to a doctor, I thought that this annoying chap was thinking of getting some royalty off the doctor concerned (which usually happened in my previous country of residence, Indonesia). But she simply said that the pharmacist was required to insist on customers getting treated by a doctor, lest the disease gets worse, I would not litigate the pharmacy.

Worthy of note, this occured during the very last days of September this year (and Mom hadn't departed to America yet) which unfortunately ruined any dates, weekly swims, planned moviegoings, and whatever else that a 20-year-old male was supposed to do during his Summer.

But shit misfortune happens, eh?

Anyway, back to the topic.

So it came to my attention that janitors also carry a large possibility of being sued against. The logic is simple: If the floor was too slippery and someone falls on the floor, the janitor of that shift carries a large portion of the responsibility for the punitive damages that may ensue.

One of the most oft-cited examples is the Liebeck v. McDonald's case where Stella Liebeck of New Mexico burned herself after accidentally spilling coffee on her body. She suffered third-degree burn and sued McDonald's for it and won.

A moral story for McDonald's not to serve hot drinks? Not exactly.

The lesser-known result of the litigation was that the reason Liebeck spilled the cup was neither her nor McDonald's fault, but the lack of cup-holder in her car. The dashboard was slightly slanted while she had nowhere else to put her cup on, hence the spill.

Fearing similar litigations towards automobile manufacturers, the company which produced her car, together with almost all other private car manufacturers in the States, began placing cup-holders in between both the driver's and the front passenger's seat from that year onwards.

But it does not stop there.

Scald-and-burn lawsuits such as Liebeck's had become quite commonplace that most public buildings (such as libraries, churches or museums) decided to get away with hot water altogether.

Thus, instead of having two choices of "water temperature" in the restroom sink, only one remains: Cold water.

It would always be pleasant if you could rinse your hands (and soak your face) with a warm water after a gelid Winter day, but the choice is gone whenever I want to sanitize my hands on the library's Gent's.

Thank heavens most privately-owned buildings (such as hotels or restaurants) have not followed suit.

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