Shopping the shopping basket suit

The SE Texas Record Nov. 1, 2008, 11:00am

Attorney Gilbert Adams, who hit a roadblock after suing Wal-Mart for failing to warn shoppers about hazardous shopping baskets placed on the ground, has injected his frivolous lawsuit with a new life.

First filed in June in state court, his Wal-Mart lawsuit on behalf of plaintiff Mary Bourne--she tripped and fell after stepping on an "unattended" shopping basket at a store on Dowlen Road--was quickly kicked to a federal court. In the hands of a no-nonsense federal judge, the suit was a long shot at best.

So Adams filed a virtually identical suit in Jefferson County District Court this week. His riff-- Wal-Mart should pay tens of thousands in damages to Ms. Bourne because it failed to "instruct" her on how to "avoid the unexpected hazard" of a shopping basket in a store-- is the same. But the defendant has "changed."

It's not Wal Mart Stores, Inc. of Bentonville, Arkansas. Now it's Wal-Mart Stores of Texas.

And that's why some guys go to law school.

It's a sad example that helps explain why efforts to clean up our courts prove so difficult.

When a determined lawyer thinks he can squeeze some settlement money from even the most ridiculous case, the system seems to incentivize that lawyer to persevere until a friendly venue is found.

One court says no? Try another one. Shop until you drop. Take full advantage of every technicality which may or may not be available. And all the while, the target gets to pay more and more legal fees defending the suit.

And for what? So Mary Bourne can get "justice," blaming someone else because she tripped and fell on a shopping basket?

Don't these people have other things to do? Apparently not.

Wal-Mart's a big target whose success provides the funds to defend itself in frivolous cases like this one. That doesn't make Adams' self-serving persistence any less outrageous.

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