6 Things Nobody Told You About the McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case

Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurants, better known as the “McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case” is perhaps the most infamous civil lawsuit in modern history. A case frequently ridiculed by insurance industry lobbyists and their cronies pushing for tort reform, it has had a significant impact on the way personal injury cases are viewed by the general public.

But in reality, the plaintiff’s case was anything but ridiculous, as I have repeatedly heard it called. Certain details of this case have been strategically kept out of the public eye. Here are a few of them:

1. The Car Wasn’t Moving

You likely know that then-79-year-old Stella Liebeck was in a car when she purchased the now-famous cup of coffee from a drive-through window, and that she was still in the car when she removed the lid to add cream and sugar. The details that are often conveniently left out are that the car was parked when the injury occurred, and that Liebeck’s grandson was in the driver’s seat, with Liebeck next to him in the passenger seat. When Liebeck removed the lid, she accidentally tipped the cup backward toward herself, spilling the coffee into her lap. So it is true that Liebeck was at least partially responsible for the spill (and the jury did acknowledge this), but to say that she was driving while trying to doctor the coffee is plainly false.

2. It Wasn’t Just Any Burn

Yes, we have all burnt our tongues on a hot cup of coffee from time to time. Regardless, I would venture to say that few of us will ever experience the amount of pain that Liebeck did. When the spill occurred, the scalding liquid was absorbed by the fabric of her sweatpants, which held it tight against her skin, covering her inner thighs and groin. She suffered severe burns, including 3rd degree burns that covered six percent of her body, which could not heal without extensive and costly skin grafts and whirlpool treatments. She was hospitalized for eight days and disabled for the following two years. Her treating physician later testified that hers was one of the worst scald burns he had ever seen.

3. McDonald’s Knew Exactly How Dangerous Their Actions Were

In fact, with full knowledge of how dangerous this policy was, they enforced it. McDonald’s admitted to requiring employees to hold coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit, well aware that it would hurt people at this temperature. They argued that most of their customers were commuters who wanted their coffee to still be hot when they reached their destination, several minutes later. This was debunked, however, by the company’s own research. What is even more shocking is that they not only knew coffee at this temperature would hurt people–they knew that it was hurting people. In the decade leading up to the 1994 jury verdict, McDonald’s had already settled hundreds of cases of people being severely burned by their coffee, including young children, and at least one consumer whose coffee was accidentally dropped into their lap by a company employee. Despite knowing that this was going on, McDonald’s determined that it was more profitable for them to continue settling cases than to change their harmful policy. So they didn’t.

Today, they have lowered their required holding temperature by only 10 degrees.

4. Compensatory and Punitive Damages

In order to know the full story of this case, you need to understand these terms. Liebeck and her counsel asked for $200,000 to fully compensate the losses she suffered because of her injury–these were the compensatory damages. So why, you might be asking, was she awarded $2.5 million more than what she required compensation for? The answer is, because that $2.5 million was never about what Liebeck deserved. It was about what McDonald’s deserved. That extra amount–what the fast food giant would have earned in about two days, on coffee sales alone–was in punitive damages, which are exactly what they sound like: they punish defendants for unacceptable behavior. The jury determined McDonald’s should pay that amount as a consequence for consistently disregarding the safety of their customers. Sometimes, this is the only way to get the attention of corporate wrong-doers.

5. She Didn’t Receive Three Million Dollars

The jury awarded Liebeck $2.7 million reduced from $2.86 million in combined compensatory and punitive damages, because Liebeck was found to be partially at fault for the spill. The Judge later reduced the full amount Liebeck would receive to $480,000, less than a quarter of what the jury awarded her, and the plaintiff and defendant later settled on an undisclosed amount which is still unknown. At the very beginning of her case proceedings, Liebeck asked for a measly $20,000, which is unlikely to have covered all of her medical expenses, let alone pain and suffering. McDonald’s never offered her more than $800, displaying what even the Judge called “reckless, callous, and willful” behavior.

6. The Reason You’ve Been Misinformed

The reason is obvious, once you know the facts: powerful corporations get angry when they are held responsible for their reckless behavior, and they don’t want something like this to happen to them again. They have widely publicized inaccurate information and unwarranted ridicule on this case, in order to precondition potential jurors in future cases all over the country. This is why big business seized on Liebeck vs. McDonald’s, making sure that Stella Liebeck herself was publicly demonized and personal injury as well as product liability cases branded as frivolous.

Whether or not you agree with the jury verdict in the Liebeck case, I urge you to learn the facts before your opinion on any civil case is set in stone. You never know when coverage has been distorted.

If you have questions about personal injury or product liability, or have a case of your own, please contact me on my website, or give me a call at (312) 258-8188.

Posted in Law Office of Steven A. Sigmond, Personal Injury, SigmondLaw Blog | Leave a comment

What You Should Know About the So-Called “Protecting Access to Care Act”

The Protecting Access to Care Act is a brazen misnomer; the only thing this bill, also known as H.R. 1215, would protect is wrongdoers’ immunity from the legal process.

I have dealt in dozens of medical malpractice cases. I know the justice system surrounding these cases, and I know what will damage and impede it. Let me go over what this bill does and why it is dangerous to everyone outside of the wealthy career politicians who created it and the special interest groups that support them.

The Bill

Depriving Victims of Malpractice

Firstly, H.R. 1215 will cap payouts for noneconomic damages, or pain and suffering (including permanent disability, disfigurement, and post-traumatic mental symptoms) in any medical malpractice case at no higher than $250,000. In a painfully ironic twist, this is the same number of deaths caused every year by medical errors in the United States alone, as estimated by a recent study from Johns Hopkins University. It is the third most common cause of death in the U.S., and yet supporters of this bill are pushing to limit the consequences for those responsible.

You may be asking, as long as people are compensated for their financial losses, what’s the problem? But imagine for a moment that a doctor or pharmacist’s negligence caused (God forbid) the death of your child or the loss of all use of your right arm. You would have to live with those losses for the rest of your life. How can we possibly quantify the monetary value of those hardships? More to the point, how can we set a maximum on them?

Infringing on States’ Rights

Tort law, including laws surrounding medical malpractice suits, has always been the prerogative of individual states. Now, supporters of this bill in Congress are taking it upon themselves to override several state constitutions by replacing state malpractice laws with their own.

Supporters will defensively point out that the bill’s cap on noneconomic damages does not extend to states with conflicting laws, but the fact is, that cap is not the only change the bill proposes and it is not the only instance of it directly contradicting laws in several states. A forced repeal of state collateral force rules and a federally-mandated statute of limitations are only two examples of this bill’s multiple infringements on states’ rights. Conveniently (for some), the state laws H.R. 1215 leaves in place are only the ones favorable to defendants–in this case, negligent or irresponsible hospitals and nursing homes–rather than their injured and disadvantaged patients.

This is a blatant overstep by the federal government, championed by many of the same people who preach the importance of states’ rights the most loudly when beneficial for them.

Protecting Wrongdoers

Supporters of this bill ignore the fact that tort law is not only for the purpose of compensating those wronged by malpractice, but also for the purpose of dissuading powerful, for-profit companies from committing malpractice for the sake of their own gain.

For example, consider a scenario in which a for-profit nursing home is hiring employees with a history of elder abuse. The company is putting the safety of their residents at risk by not properly vetting their applicants, but they are also saving themselves some time and money by skipping that process, and so no changes are made. Often, the only way they will be convinced to stop this irresponsible practice is the reminder that they will lose more money in damages than they save, if they are sued by a victim whose safety they neglected.

H.R. 1215 includes several measures to limit the amount of money a corporation would lose in such a suit, eliminating accountability for corrupt companies and giving them the go-ahead to put patients’ safety on the line.

Incidentally, among the things this bill classifies as non-economic (and therefore, less compensable) damages is sexual assault in nursing homes and other medical facilities. It also bans plaintiffs from including hospitals, nursing homes, and healthcare providers in suits involving dangerous drugs, even if they prescribed or provided it.

To sum things up, H.R. 1215 not only severely limits the extent to which a wrongdoer can be held accountable for their malpractice, it also limits the wrongdoing for which they can actually be held accountable at all.

Threatening Access to Care

So, will this bill actually do what it claims to? The short answer is, predictably, no.

H.R. 1215 applies to anyone receiving health care coverage from a federal program, including the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and health care plans provided by the government to veterans and their families. These programs are provided for the express purpose of giving access to care to some of the most vulnerable members of society: the elderly, people with disabilities, and those living below the poverty line, to name just a few. It is members of these groups whose access to quality health care was most threatened in the first place, and this bill now aims to strip them of their ability to hold their abusers within the healthcare system responsible.

Even if you are not a member of any of the groups to whom this bill applies, let us not forget two things: that nearly 40 percent of the American population is covered by federal health care plans and that mistreated patients are also consumers. If and when Congress deprives them of their ability to seek sufficient financial restitution for medical malpractice, their ability to contribute to the economy will be severely damaged, and we will all suffer from the resulting financial strain.

Public Response

All evidence indicates that the creators of H.R. 1215 were counting on Americans not to be smart enough to realize that this bill would only disadvantage them. Fortunately, this has largely not been the case, and public derision for it has quickly traversed the political aisle.

Democrats in and outside of Washington D.C. have voiced strong opposition to the bill. In a highly averse statement on it, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) summed up the feelings of many Democrats, disparaging it as “legislation intended to deny victims of medical malpractice and defective medical products the ability to be made whole and to hold wrongdoers accountable” and adding, “This measure has repeatedly failed because of its many problems, including its trampling of states’ rights.”

Meanwhile, many prominent Conservatives, likely increasingly reluctant to align themselves with the Trump administration’s frequent demonstrations of lunacy, have decried the bill as well. Understandably, such a blatant flex of federal authority doesn’t sit well with a group of people known for pushing small government. The well-known Georgetown law professor and libertarian, Randy E. Barnett, said of Republicans who support the bill: “With friends like these, constitutional federalism does not need enemies. Can we coin a new pejorative, FINO: ‘Federalists in Name Only’?”

My Thoughts

On top of the moral bankruptcy of the Protecting Access to Care Act, there is another issue: this bill is unconstitutional, plain and simple. The idea of an enforced damages cap encroaches not only on the prerogative of states, but on that of the judiciary as well. Believe it or not, over the past few decades, similar bills have been thrown out as unenforceable in state after state–including multiple times in our own state, Illinois.

This first happened in 1995, when the Illinois government introduced Public Act 89-7, which imposed a noneconomic damages cap of $500,000. It was overturned in Best v. Taylor Machine Works, a case involving a product liability that resulted in a man fracturing both heels and suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns covering nearly half of his body. When you consider the sheer amount of pain and future impairment, it is clear that $500,000 was nowhere near as much as the plaintiff needed or deserved, and the state supreme court thought so too. They struck down that act over 20 years ago, and now the Federal Government has taken it upon themselves to enforce the same defunct rule country-wide, but with available damages slashed in half? This is outrageous to me.

Bills like H.R. 1215 and Public Act 89-7 restrict the right to a jury trial, a right established by the founding fathers in the Sixth Amendment. The supreme courts of several states have already ruled damages caps like those proposed in these bills as an infringement on that basic right promised to all Americans. The only people who can constitutionally determine the amount awarded in a jury verdict are the jurors and, in rare cases, the judge.

This bill takes important legal decisions out of the hands of jurors–registered voters like you and me–and puts them into the hands of politicians who, whatever they name their bills, care nothing about our access to responsible medical practices. They urge strict and absolute following of the Constitution when it suits their own agendas, but seem to conveniently forget about when fellow Americans’ rights under the law do not benefit them. At the end of the day, regardless of political beliefs and affiliations, you must see how this bill would put patients at risk and disregard the rulings of state courts..

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1215 by the incredibly slim margin of one vote. It is up to us, the voters, to make sure it does not pass the senate. I urge you to call your senators and to stay up to date on the progress of this bill.

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, or any injury case involving extensive pain and suffering, and would like to speak with an attorney, please contact me here or at (312) 258-8188 for a free consultation.

 

Posted in Law Office of Steven A. Sigmond, Legal News, Personal Injury, Politics, SigmondLaw Blog | Leave a comment

Workers’ Comp: the Democratic Proposals to Help Business

If you live in Illinois, you are more than likely already aware of Governor Rauner’s continued to refusal to submit a state budget unless he gets his way on workers’ compensation “reform”, despite the fact that reforms were already enacted in 2011, at the expense of injured workers. But as new developments occur rapidly, it can be easy to lose track of the details.

With the Governor spending millions to advertise his point of view and public patience with him wearing thin, state Democrats have devised some proposed solutions, which I’d like to go over in this week’s post.

The Debate

The Governor has included significant changes to the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act as one of his conditions for his approval of a state budget. His stubbornness in this matter is, in large part, the reason we have all been scraping by without a budget since 2015.

The Act outlines when and how much an employee injured at work is entitled to be compensated by their employer. In 2011, it was overhauled with the goal of cutting costs for businesses, slashing worker benefits in the process. Since then, state businesses have not seen much of the savings they were promised out of the 2011 changes, and Governor Rauner now wants to further cut worker benefits, evidently hoping that doing more of the same will somehow fix the problem this time.

The real problem, however, is one that will not be solved by depriving Illinois workers of benefits and representation. The only expense an employer must pay for worker’s compensation is their insurance premiums and consequently, insurance companies have taken advantage of the 2011 overhaul, securing soaring profits for themselves and leaving precious little for businesses and employees alike.

The Proposals

Illinois Democrats have put forth two proposed solutions to this system of profiteering:

Two bills known as HB 2525 and HB 2622 are currently in limbo within the state government. They offer two different ways of stopping insurance companies from sapping money off employers and causing them to further whittle down their workers’ benefits.

One Possible Solution

HB 2525 was pushed forward by State Representative Jay Hoffman and State Senator Kwame Raoul. It makes several changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act. Notably, it will (if enacted) require insurance companies to submit their workers’ comp rates to the Department of Insurance for approval, allowing them to be regulated.

By regulating insurance rates, we can prevent companies from charging absurdly high bills to employers and from further taking advantage of the system. As you can imagine, insurance companies are not happy about this, but the bill does present a neat solution to their habit of continuously creating unnecessarily high expenses for the rest of us.

And Another

HB 2622 is another proposed bill, this one sponsored by State Representative Laura Fine and State Senator Daniel Biss. If enacted, it will create the Illinois Employers Mutual Insurance Company. This is intended to be a government-funded non-profit that will provide workers’ comp insurance to businesses at a competitive rate. This would help businesses by giving employers an option outside of the exorbitant premiums of private insurance companies, allowing them to save money without stripping employees of access to compensation.

Both this bill and HB 2525 have been passed by the House and the Senate, but thus far the Governor has refused to sign.

My Thoughts

It just doesn’t make sense to me that we made significant cuts to worker benefits in the name of lowering employer costs in 2011, saw that it was ineffective in that goal, and yet we are still, in 2017, trying to force results with the same useless tactic, all the while throwing injured workers under the bus. It is astounding to me that Bruce Rauner can claim to fight for the average Illinoisan in one breath and systematically slice away at millions of Illinoisans’ coverage for work-related injuries in the next.

There is a misconception floating around that the majority of workers’ comp cases are scams, cooked up by self-entitled people hoping to get rich off a minor cut or bruise. Well, as someone who spends my days sifting through and learning every detail of dozens of workers’ comp cases each year, let me assure you: that is simply not reality. Any workers’ comp case is a long and rigorous process for all involved and legal professionals are, on the whole, very intelligent people.  Nobody goes around handing out checks to those without a legitimate case.

By cutting workers’ comp benefits, we are not only ignoring the root cause of the problem–greedy insurance corporations creating unduly high expenses for employers–we are punishing the wrong group, taking rights away from people who have already been afflicted.

HB 2525 and BH 2622 offer logical solutions to the problems in our workers’ compensation system that will effectively lower costs for businesses and prevent insurance companies from further taking advantage of injured Illinoisans. I encourage you reading this to support those bills, and to stay up to date on the workers’ comp debate. I sincerely hope you never suffer a work related injury, but if you do, I want you to get the compensation you deserve.

You can learn more about workers’ comp cases on my website here. If you have a case of you’re own, call me at (312) 258-8188 for a free consultation.

Posted in Illinois, Law Office of Steven A. Sigmond, Legal News, Politics, SigmondLaw Blog, Uncategorized, Workers' Compensation | Leave a comment

Distracted Driving: Why it’s Still an Issue

Illinois is one of 46 states in the U.S. that prohibits text messaging while driving, and one of 14 that prohibits the use of handheld cell phones for all drivers. evidence surrounding the issue of distracted driving and the necessity of cracking down on it are not new. One quarter of all car accidents in the United States are the result of texting while driving, which the state of Illinois officially banned at the beginning of  2010. So why is it that in Chicago, instances of distracted driving and resulting fatal crashes have only risen since then?

A recent article from the Chicago Tribune reported that traffic citations issued for distracted driving have sharply decreased over the past three years. The laws are still in place, but they are being enforced with only a fraction of the strictness with which they were enforced as recently as 2014. To give you an idea: there were 45,000 tickets issued to drivers using mobile devices at the wheel in all of 2014. As of April of this year (2017), there have been 24.

As a lifelong Chicagoan and frequenter of the expressway, I see instances of distracted driving every day. As a personal injury lawyer, I see its effects, and those are much worse.

Traffic gets rough in a city like this. It bothers me when I see one of the drivers around me jolting to a halt, an inch from the bumper in front of them because they were not watching the road, or when the car in front of them starts moving again and they remain stationary, oblivious to the line of furious drivers building up behind them. It bothers me because I know someday soon, that oblivious driver is going to seriously hurt someone.

I don’t see how such a significant threat to our public safety can go so unchecked, both by those who are violating the ban on texting while driving, and by those who are supposed to be enforcing it. How can you see the person in the car next to yours, or even in the driver’s seat beside you, looking down at their cell phone, eyes nowhere near the road–and not fear for yourself and the people around you?

I often see clients who were injured in car accidents, many of which involved distracted driving. It is always upsetting to see people who have been badly hurt, but especially so when the cause was something so avoidable. So I urge everyone reading this: do not text and drive. Your likelihood of receiving a traffic violation for it may have lowered, but your risk of causing a serious car accident has not. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them until it does.

If you’ve been injured in a traffic accident and would like to discuss your situation with me, you can reach me at (312)-258-8188, chicagoaccidentlawyer.com, or siglaw.com.

Posted in Illinois, Law Office of Steven A. Sigmond, Personal Injury, Practicing Law in Chicago, SigmondLaw Blog | Leave a comment

HURT WHILE WORKING FROM HOME

As a general rule, under workers’ compensation an employee may receive benefits from the employer for accidental injuries or death which occurred during the course of employment. In a situation where the employee was injured on the premises of employment while performing duties within the scope of his or her employment, entitlement to the benefits are clear. However, what happens if the employee is working from home? Would he or she still be entitled to benefits if injured while working from home? The answer is maybe.

In a technologically advanced society, working from home (telecommuting) has become an alternative employment structure for many companies. The positive aspects of telecommuting include: the ability to work a flexible schedule, improvement of the work/life balance, saving commute time, and reduction of stress. Some of the negative aspects of telecommuting may include:  the lack of contact with fellow workers, possible missed job advancements, and blurry lines between work and home. In addition, telecommuters may be considered to be “out of the loop”.

If you are injured while telecommuting, receiving workers’ compensation benefits will depend on whether the injury occurred within the course and scope of your employment. The injured party will still have the burden of proof that his injury was, in fact, work related.  As it may be more difficult for a telecommuter to prove a workers’ compensation claim than for someone working in the office, it is in the best interest of the telecommuter to keep current and accurate records to account for the work done and how the work is separate from personal time. This can be done by placing entries in a journal each day.

One example of an injured telecommuter awarded benefits can be found in the case of Ameritech Services, Inc. v. IWCC, 904 N.E.2nd 1122 (Appellate Court of Illinois, First district, Workers Compensation Commission Division, 2009).  That case involved a salesman working out of his house who was injured carrying equipment to a sales call.

If you would like an evaluation of your own situation to figure out if you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, we can help.  The Law Office of Steven A. Sigmond can offer you a free confidential consultation to discuss your case. I can be reached at (312) 258-8188 or visit our websites at www.chicagoaccidentlawyer.com or www.siglaw.com and submit your contact information.

Posted in Illinois, Law Office of Steven A. Sigmond, Practicing Law in Chicago, Workers' Compensation | Leave a comment

RECOVERY FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES IN ILLINOIS PERSONAL INJURY AND WORKER’S COMP CASES

Mental stress injuries are compensable in Illinois. Like any other type of injury, psychological injuries must be properly diagnosed and treated by a qualified doctor. These can be difficult cases to prove, and even when solid proof is present these cases are difficult to argue. The insurance industry and the general public remain skeptical regarding psychological injuries. However, psychological injuries are compensable under both personal injury law and Illinois Worker’s Compensation Law.

PERSONAL INJURY CASES

In personal injury cases, the elements of proof for emotional distress cases have long been established by Illinois courts. Illinois personal injury law recognizes a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress for both direct victims and bystanders. If a plaintiff hopes to recover damages under a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress, Illinois law does make a distinction between direct victims and bystanders.

A. Direct Victims

A direct victim may be able to recover damages under a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim if he or she can show that the defendant was negligent and the negligence was a the proximate cause of a physical injury or illness. In this instance negligence is estabalished by proving these four elements:

  • duty
  • breach of duty
  • causation; and
  • damages.

B. Bystander

If the plaintiff is a bystander, he or she must prove:

  • that he or she was in the zone of physical danger
  • that he or she reasonably feared for his or her own safety because of the defendant’s negligence; and
  • that he or she suffered a physical injury or illness as a result of the emotional distress caused by the defendant’s negligence.

WORKER’S COMPENSATION CASES

Illinois Worker’s Compensation Law recognizes mental stress injuries caused by a physical trauma, and in some more extreme situations psychological injuries caused at work without a physical injury. In contrast to recovery elements for personal injury for negligent infliction of emotional distress, worker’s compensation claims can offer some unique challenges to plaintiffs and attorneys in terms of evidence and proof when building a case that involves mental injuries without the physcial counterpart.

A. Mental Stress Caused by a Physical Injury

In worker’s compensation cases, certain physical events trigger psychological trauma that could prove to be compensable under Illinois worker’s compensation law. For example, if your supervisor hits you in a manner that caused you to have panic attacks, you may be able to recover under worker’s compensation. Another scenario may involve an incident where you are physically injured while at work and this causes you to become severely depressed and/or have a fear of working because of the injury you sustained.

B. Mental – Mental Cases

Worker’s compensation claims are covered under state law and under Illinois law, the courts have recognized claims where there are mental damages without an acutal physical injury. The mental-mental worker’s compensation claim encompasses factors where both the cause of the injury and the resulting manifestation of the injury are mental as opposed to being physically induced. The key to recovering mental-mental damages in worker’s compensation cases is to show that a particular situation involved a suddent, shocking event. In cases where the mental trauma is not related to a sudden, shocking event, the plaintiff must show that the mental trauma experienced was extraordinary and the employment conditions surrounding the mental trauma were a substantial cause of the psychological disorder.

Since recovery of mental damages under either personal injury or worker’s compensation require varying elements of proof, I encourage injury victims to seek the proper legal consultation concerning the specific facts of his or her case.

In order to discuss your situation with me personally, you may call the Law Office of Steven A. Sigmond at (312) 258-81881 or visit our websites at http://www.chicagoaccidentlawyer.com/ or http://www.siglaw.com/ and submit your information for a confidential free consultation.

Posted in Workers' Compensation | 1 Comment

PRESIDENTS DAY: LET’S RESTORE RESPECT FOR THE OFFICE

On Presidents Day we celebrate two of our great heros, Washington and Lincoln, as well as all of the other men that have held the office.  Also, we celebrate the office itself.  The person holding the office is the leader of the free world and the most powerful man on Earth.  Even so, at the end of his term, beloved or reviled, the President will simply walk away, as each of his predecessors has done.  The Presidency is an amazing institution that we Americans are rightfully proud of.

While our nation celebrates Presidents Day, we continue to show less and less respect for the office.  I’ve heard some of my conservative friends talk about how President Obama was actually working for Al-Qaeda.  Likewise, I’ve actually heard some of my liberal friends talk about how President Bush was actually working for the Saudi royal family.  I’ve heard both compared to Adolph Hitler.  Those statements should offend all of us on several levels.

Personally, I was never a fan of George W. Bush.  We are allowed to publically criticize our President; That’s one of the wonderful things about America.  So, for example, I considered Bush to be dim-witted and misguided.  That being said, to suggest he was treasonous or murderous or evil is just nonsense.  I’m sure he did what he thought was best for this country and its citizens at all times.  I just disagree with his ideas of what’s best, that’s all.  And, much as I didn’t like him, I didn’t like seeing somebody throw a shoe at him either.  Disrespecting the President is still disrespecting America!

We are all tired of the negative campaign ads, the constant bickering in Washington, and incredibly adversarial atmosphere between the parties that prevents government from ever getting enough done.  How do we change that?  I believe that a good start would be to show a renewed respect for the office of the President. 

We all need to stop demonizing those leaders with whom we differ on social and economic policy.  We need to recognize that free speech and democracy also applies to people who don’t see it our own way.  This can start by showing a little respect for the presidency, even if you don’t like the current occupant.  The office represents the collective will of our Republic.  Respect for the office is respect for the process.  Respect for the President is respect for democracy, and America.  This can allow us to talk about ideas again.  Let’s give it a try.

 (Of course, you’ll have to ask me if I still feel the same way next February).

Posted in Law Office of Steven A. Sigmond, Politics, SigmondLaw Blog | 2 Comments