Threat of lawsuits inhibits good Samaritans

Editor:This horrifying story we are hearing on the news makes one wonder how the plight of those women, held captive for a decade, could have been kept from the world, never mind the next-door neighbors. There may be one culprit that most of us would not suspect: law schools.

It is a common saying in law schools that one can "sue a ham sandwich." Did the neighbors simply pay no attention, though some of them saw some horrifying things. Or was it a simple case of "I can't be sued for everything I own and everything I may ever own, if I mind my own business"?That is a real and truly terrifying possibility. Is that sufficient reason to turn a blind eye to some of the things reportedly observed by at least one neighbor? One would have to shout, "No!" But is it time we let this horror teach us something. Those successful lawsuits are held before a jury, a jury that can and often does award huge sums of money to a hapless loser. Why do juries award life-destroying sums in some suits? Good question. Too bad there seem to be no legitimate answers.

Maybe it's time to stop asking "Why?" and start pushing for a change For a starter, it would be great if lawyers were given a veritable pittance for their labors in these "for big bucks" law suits. That could be accomplished if enough citizens were determined to bring it to fruition, and it would change our entire culture.

Fear can and does crate reticence, criminal reticence, and may have done so in this case. We must deal with this, if we want to be able to look ourselves in the eye, and most of us do.

Muriel Sluyter


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