Ok, it sounds like a funny lawsuit story, but consider what Angela Ianelli alleges:
Her lawsuit alleges that a contractor working for the bank broke into her home near Pittsburgh, changed the locks, cut off the utilities, damaged the floors, poured antifreeze down sinks and toilets, and "stole" the parrot.
Why the scare quotes? If one takes another person's parrot without permission, that's theft. If one takes the parrot from that person's house, it's burglary.
Bank of America has admitted wrongdoing, saying a clerical error meant the debt collector was wrongly told that Ms Iannelli's home was empty, that she was in default on her mortgage, and that it should be repossessed.
In fact, Ms Iannelli, who owns a local diner, still lived at the address. Records show she'd missed one mortgage payment, but that the debt was quickly settled, a couple of days after the due date.
If a natural person entered Ms. Ianelli's home, tore up her floors, poured anti-freeze down her sink, and stole her belongings, he'd quickly become a felon.
When Ms Iannelli rang Bank of America, they first denied knowing where the parrot was, and then told her she could drive to the offices of the contractor, 80 miles away, to retrieve the bird herself. Call-centre workers later told her they were "tired" of hearing from her, advised her to seek help from the police, and hung up. Bank of America has now apologised, saying it is conducting a review and has "zero tolerance for that kind of error".
Right. Bank of America has "zero tolerance" for rude, incompetent call center drones who slough off complaints from customers even when the complaints aren't as seemingly ridiculous as a parrot abduction. Bank of America has "zero tolerance" for home invasion by its asshat collection contractors. Bank of America has "zero tolerance" for computer error putting honest citizens through Kafkaesque nightmares as bad as anything the government does on its worst days.
Critics of the Supreme Court's recent Citizens United v. FEC decision were wrong on the law, but they had a point. If corporations wish to be treated as people, we should go all the way. Bank of America shouldn't just pay Ms. Ianelli damages. If Ken Lewis, who was chair of BOA when this outrage occurred, or the head of Bank of America's recovery division, faced jail for burglarizing Ms. Ianelli's home and kidnapping her parrot Bank of America would go a long way toward actualizing itself as a person.