Letting a villain claim victimhood

The SE Texas Record Nov. 13, 2010, 5:34pm

Talk about a menace to society.

Jim Howard III of Galveston County got drunk, got behind the wheel of his car and crashed into another vehicle, killing two teenaged girls and injuring two others. As often happens with drunk drivers, Howard survived relatively unscathed.

He did dislocate his right leg and hip, but the emergency room staff at Mainland Medical Center soon put those right.

Howard did not escape punishment, however. He recently was convicted of intoxicated manslaughter and intoxicated assault and sentenced to life in prison.

That should have been the end of the Jim Howard saga. A properly chastened and remorseful man would have devoted his incarcerated life to introspection, and the citizens of Southeast Texas would not have read another word of his anti-heroic exploits.

But Jim Howard hasn't learned anything. He's got lots of leisure time now and is determined to make the worst of it by continuing his assault on society from the state-subsidized security of his prison cell.

Howard is suing the Mainland Medical Center for $1.5 million, alleging that its staff inadvertently broke his femur while setting his dislocated leg and hip.

Even assuming that the injury was inflicted by the medical staff and did not occur during the accident that took the lives of two young women, it is impossible not to be appalled by Howard's chutzpah. A million and a half dollars for a broken thighbone? What's he drinking in his prison cell?

In a less namby-pamby era than ours, the courts and community would have dismissed such an audacious claim out of hand. A more stout-hearted citizenry might even applaud the injury, knowing that a little pain and suffering might benefit a man like Jim Howard.

Instead, we pretend that Jim Howard's craven claim has some merit and adjudicate it, wasting the court's time and taxpayers' money and driving up the cost of health care for decent people.

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