Who Wants to Win $9 million?
Of course, we all do; but Mrs. Stacey Betts of Wilsonville, Oregon, has a practical plan to do so: she has filed a suit in US District Court for $9.2 million against teen heartthrob singer Justin Bieber, Def Jam Records and Vulcan Sports and Entertainment for damage to her hearing at a Bieber concert on July 14, 2010, at the Rose Quarter in Portland. (1)
According to the Complaint, Bieber climbed into a gondola and waved his armsas it was pulled over the crowd, which "enticed his fans into a frenzy of screams....the gondola acted as a sound conductor, creating a sound blast that permanently damaged both my ears." Mrs. Betts, who attended the concert with her daughter, filed the case without an attorney and is not seeking a jury trial.
To prevail, Mrs Betts will have to convince the judge that the defendants were responsible for the screams of the other fans or were negligent in somehow preventing the screams from harming Mrs. Betts. Since it is well-known that the mere presence of Justin Bieber causes pubescent girls to scream their heads off, (2) anyone attending a Bieber event assumes the risk of hearing loss, just as fans at a Brewers game assume the risk of getting hit by a foul ball and anyone near the field of a Packers game assumes the risk that a 250-pound Packer will scale the fence and plop into his or her lap. Even though I doubt that Mrs Betts could win a judgment at trial, there is still a good chance that the liability insurance company for the defendants will offer some monetary settlement to avoid legal fees and court costs. But if the case does go to trial, and Bieber testifies in person, many of his fans are likely to attend and cheer for him, so court observers are advised to wear earplugs to prevent hearing damage.
This case is a good example of the tendency of Americans today to react to almost any misfortune by suing somebody. The airwaves are full of ads by personal injury lawyers urging people to do just that. (Until recently, just advertising for clients, let alone urging people to sue, was grounds for disbarment; today it is the norm.) The willingness of many defendants to pay-off bogus claims certainly feeds this trend.
For example, in 1990 a black woman filed a racial discrimination complaint against me with HUD. An official of the HUD Regional Office in Chicago called me to say that the woman would drop the complaint for $10,000. I told him that the reward for filing a false complaint against me was a round number. (3) HUD dismissed the complaint.
Gerald S Glazer
(1) Betts v Bieber et al, 3:2012cv01253. The case was filed in federal court since the defendants are not also residents of Oregon.
(2) Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beatles had the same problem. As a result, Elvis and the Beatles stopped performing in person, and Sinatra only performed before fans too old to scream.
(3) In our Hindu-Arabic numeration system the only round number is O. If she would have settled for $100 or so, I might have paid just to get rid of the problem, but this was case where (contrary to Gordon Gecko) greed was not good.