Runaway Jury

By Bill Maher

Last month, a jury in Springfield, Massachusetts, decided that the Cumberland Farms convenience store chain must pay the family of a Massachusetts woman more than $32 million after she was killed while shopping in one of their stores. How was she killed? A car being driven by an 81-year-old man going more than 70 MPH crashed into the store and killed her. 

Since this is America, the woman’s husband sued Cumberland Farms for negligence, saying they should have installed barriers to prevent old people from crashing their cars into their stores at high speeds and killing their customers, natch. There is no law that says they have to have barriers, so they weren’t negligent in any legal sense. Nor had this ever happened at this store before, even though it has been open since 1974. But none of this mattered to the jury. Mr. Magoo wasn’t responsible. “Stuff happens” wasn’t responsible. The store was. To the tune of $32 million bucks. 

Now, this is hardly the first head scratcher of a decision a jury has ever made. But I’m also wondering if our national inability to accept that bad things happen for no reason has reached crisis stage.  

Is there another phrase in American life that has done more unintended damage than “We have to make sure this never happens again”?