October 31, 2007

Deep Pockets

OK, its horrific that so many people died in the RI nightclub fire. But I'm confused how an insulation company (which made a material that was probably not intended to be used as sound insulation, but was, and was not intended to be used near open flame but was subjected to close proximity pyrotechnics) and Home Depot, which sold the product, just like they sell 1000's of other products every day without knowing where or how they would be used, gets a chunk of liability and end up paying millions.

Somebody improperly used that material in the nightclub (a former owner, probably long gone). Somebody decided to use pyrotechnics that night (the band). Somebody did not have accessible exits or working sprinkler systems or packed the club beyond its safe capacity (the club owners). You have to believe that a fire inspector was in that club once or twice, and missed the code violations. The responsibility and liability is pretty thick in a lot of directions. But I suspect not a lot of the truly liable people have the money that the manufacturer and retailer do. So guess who gets dragged to court.

It's stuff like this that makes me (a) really dislike a certain flavor of lawyer and (b) really want to vote for the tort reform (usually republican) candidate now and then. I hate that every tragedy, accident, or injury becomes a vehicle for payout. Yeah, there is clearcut liability here, but who gets sued seems less determined by liability and more determined by ability to pay, and that's wrong.

Bob Dylan had it right "When you ain't got nothing, you got nithing to lose" and I think the best way to be lawsuit proof is to have no assets......

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