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Gypsy & Willy - The Original Libertarian Bloggers

How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?

Gypsy & Willy

No. 12 (Series No. 203)

Got her back...thanks to YOU!

January 18, 1999

Last night Gypsy asked me to "take down" the Famous Dave's protest from the World Wide Web. Of course, what she was referring to was the column I want my wife back! which I wrote in late August, 1998. It referred to a nightmare evening Gypsy and our daughter Lisa spent at that restaurant/night club. The reasons Gypsy gave me for her decision to ask me to halt the protest were:

  1. Most importantly, the wonderful response of YOU, our readers, to the column actually restored her faith in the basic sanity and the human race and erased the depression caused by the incident and its aftermath. An estimated 200,000 of you read the essay and, of that group, hundreds not only took it upon themselves to write Famous Dave's and register their protests, but also sent copies of those letters to us as well.

  2. Of the letters to Famous Dave's of which we have copies, only one sided with that establishment instead of with us. That particular letter took us to task for suing Famous Dave's...which wasn't true...and identified me personally as a trouble maker who calls himself a libertarian...which IS true. In fact, as libertarians, neither Gypsy nor I has ever been comfortable with the notion of entering a legal struggle over an incident such as this. The "actual" (physical) damages were slight...a couple of bruised wrists for two weeks was the extent of them...and both of us knew that the mental anguish would pass with time. Gypsy admitted...last night for the first time...that she felt that such a law suit would be genuinely "frivolous."

  3. We have no personal gripe against Dave Anderson, the owner and proprietor of the restaurant. Dave worked very hard to build up that restaurant chain. He employs, as musicians in his clubs, several of our old and dear friends. Again, as libertarians, we have nothing but the best of wishes for his continued success in this business and, in general, as an entrepreneur.

So this is the good news. I have Gypsy back...REALLY back. Our faith in the power of the "Force"...the Internet...has been sustained, not to mention our faith in the basic goodness of humankind. All we ever wanted from Famous Dave's was an apology and an honest explanation of what occurred. Of course, a few bucks wouldn't have hurt...perhaps a refund for the money spent that evening and some small amount for mental and physical damages to both Gypsy and Lisa....maybe a hundred dollars total.

So, this is the bad news. No apology was ever tendered nor was any offer of compensation ever made. Attorneys, who work on contingency in cases like this, made it quite clear that we had to ask for a LOT more than that to make litigation worth the bother. One went so far as to comment angrily, "What do I get out of this should I take the case and win? One third of an apology?"

An interesting irony is that of the lawyers with whom we spoke, Famous Dave's attorney...the "opposition"...was the most polite, the most helpful and the least dishonest of the group. He didn't, of course, ever bad-mouth his employer or say anything that might have helped our case but he did seem a trifle embarrassed to have to pass on Famous Dave's feeble and disingenuous "official explanation" of the event...which were thinly veiled accusations that the whole thing was...somehow...Gypsy's fault.

Yet, I found his behavior perfectly logical within the context of our emerging society of "victims." Each year, the number of law suits against commercial enterprises to remedy real and imagined injuries increases dramatically. Along with this astronomical rise in litigation has evolved an ever more insane set of "rules" governing the conduct of the opposing participants. For example:

I am sure there are many more of which we are unaware, but these few ensured that the probability of our ever receiving a satisfactory apology or explanation was ZILCH! We were informed by friends and acquaintances, some of them attorneys, on no uncertain terms, that to "succeed" in our endeavor, we had to ask for astronomical compensation...to get their "attention"...had to maximize the damages...perhaps by enlisting "friendly" doctors and/or psychiatrists to inflate and exaggerate our claims...and had to prepare for a VERY long fight.

Well, we chose instead to enlist YOUR aid. By presenting our case succinctly on the Web and giving you an opportunity to register your thoughts directly to Famous Dave's, we took the risk of losing any chance of receiving what we wanted from them in order to do a very simple thing. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No lawyers in between us and you, no extravagant claims, no bullshit. As far as I am concerned, it worked perfectly. I HAVE MY WIFE BACK! And YOU brought her back to me.

The good news for Famous Dave's is that there will be no law suit. They escape...this time...with whatever fees they paid their attorney...which he truly earned. On the other hand, I am NOT going to remove the column from the Web. While its effect on Famous Dave's will be ameliorated by the publication of this column attached to it, its existence will forever...or as long as we remain on the Web...serve as a reminder to other establishments that the Web is a very powerful medium for exacting "revenge" for REAL transgressions against their customers. Someone at Famous Dave's had to read all those letters and and someone had to try to figure out how to counteract the negative publicity. I assure you...from personal experience with "flames"...that this was NOT a pleasant task.

The push for tort "reform" is a big issue in legal circles these days. What this usually means is to put a cap on the size of punitive damages awarded to injured parties. One only need look at what is going on in Washington these days...you know, the impeachment of Old Whatsisname...to understand how necessary it is to achieve SOME change to the system. I mean, would the Lyin' King have done the things he did if the somewhat questionable (depending on which liars you believe the most) Paula Jones law suit, with its potential for mega-buck damage awards, weren't hanging over his cute curly head? On the other hand, the recent book The Runaway Jury or the movie The Rainmakers...also a book, both by John Grisham...give the other side of the story. Whatever solution is found, it must address the "lottery" aspect of litigation as well as finding more civilized and sane ways to settle disputes over victimization. Otherwise, litigation will continue to be an outlet for legal extortion. We bet the solution will...somehow...be found on the Internet.

Talk to you later...

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To contact Willy or Gypsy and comment on what they have written...or anything else...write to willy@dreamagic.com or gypsy@dreamagic.com.

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