In late 1973 or early 1974, my Nana took me to the Eagle Rock Plaza, near her house, to see Disney's Robin Hood. I was four. It was a rainy day, and I was wearing a damp rain slicker. As we were waiting outside the movie theater, I was dorking around on the side of the plaza's fountain. I slipped and fell into the fountain, thanks to a combination of wearing a slippery raincoat and being, even then, a clumsy twit. A kind gentleman lifted me out, and my Nana returned we, wet and embarrassed and angry about missing Robin Hood, to her house. Nobody in particular noticed, and I did not require medical attention.
Why the hell didn't we think to threaten to sue the Eagle Rock Plaza?
Well, because it was my own damn fault, and I knew it. And because Nana wasn't a leech on society, and neither were my parents. And because I was four years old and not allowed to litigate on my own.
Also, we didn't think to do it because we're just not as creative as Cathy Cruz Marreo or her lawyer, James M. Polyak of Redding, Pennsylvania.
See, Ms. Marreo was walking through the Berkshire Mall one day, intently texting on her cell, when she ran right into the rim of the mall's fountain and tumbled in. The Berkshire Mall had left a fountain right in the middle of the place, right where you might fall in if you were walking without paying any attention whatsoever to where you were going.
Someone in mall security saw this and leaked the security footage, which showed up all over the place. The tape is too grainy to recognize a face, though Ms. Marreo claims that a friend could recognize her walk. No, really.
Anyway, when something like this happens in modern America, someone must pay, and it won't be the person who was walking without looking where they were going. It's going to someone else. Someone else must, through creative thinking, foot the bill — for hurt feelings, if there is no actual injury.
Her attorney, James M. Polyak of Reading, said he plans to conduct an investigation into what happened.
"We are troubled by the fact that anyone at the Berkshire Mall responsible for releasing this video would find humor in an employee injured on the premises," Polyak said. "We intend to hold the appropriate persons responsible.
"No one from that security office came to her aid in a timely manner."
Yep. Ms. Morreo doesn't claim that she was injured, let alone seriously injured. She says she has a bruise. But the point is that she could have been. She could have been injured, and security didn't rush down to see if she was okay (never mind that the footage shows her walking away immediately). So if she had been injured, and needed help, she wouldn't have gotten it from security, and that's just awful, and someone has to pay. And everyone knows that in America, if you could have been injured, even if you weren't, you should have your hand out.
We could all be Cathy Morreo — to a certain point. We could all make an ass of ourselves in public through carelessness, and some of us do.
But most of us don't hire a lawyer. Most of us don't have our hand out. Some of us do. Those people suck. They're the reason that our courts are clogged, our insurance is high, and that lawyers are omnipresent.
If Ms. Morreo were to sue the mall because its employees widely distributed a security video of her making a fool of herself in public, it might present a few mildly interesting issues, though it would still be bogus.
But if she sues because no one rushed to check on her to assist with an injury she did not have, and her feelings were bruised as a result, well — I have to ask, Cathy, why can't be at least as mature as a four-year-old?
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