Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

February 7, 2005

Suing Nice Neighbors

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:03 pm

This has got to be one of the most preposterously ridiculous lawsuits I’ve ever heard of — and I’ve heard of a lot! Two teenage girls in Durango, Colorado, decided to make cookies for their neighbors, just to be nice. In response, one of the neighbors sued them — and won damages!!!

Apparently, two teenage girls decided to skip school a dance where there might be cursing and drinking. Instead, they baked cookies for their neighbors and delivered them anonymously — with a note that said, “Have a great night. Love, the T and L Club.” (Their first names are Taylor and Lindsey.)

One recipient of the free cookies, Wanita Renea Young, sued them.

She said she became so terrified by the knocks on her door around 10:30 p.m. that she called the sheriff’s department. Deputies determined that no crime had been committed. So, she found out who gave here the delicious cookies, and sued the girls.

A Durango judge Thursday awarded Young almost $900 to recoup her medical bills for an asthma attack she suffered the next day, which she allegedly thought was a heart attack because she’d been so scared by the cookies. She received nothing for pain and suffering.

Her comment? “I’m not gloating about it. I just hope the girls learned a lesson.”

Yeah, I’ll bet they learned a lesson — like, never do anything nice for you neighbors! They might sue you!

Another lesson they might have learned — better to go to the dance with all that drinking and cursing, than have some good clean fun like baking cookies for your neighbors.

I don’t wish ill on anybody, but it would be poetic justice if Ms. Young were to get a flat tire on the median strip of a busy highway, and have 5,000 cars pass by over the next six hours with no one stopping to help or call the auto club.

Taylor’s mother, Jill Ostergaard, said her daughter “cried and cried” after hearing the judge’s decision, and said, “She felt she was being punished for doing something nice.”

Well, that’s because she was being punished for doing something nice. Smart girl!

The judge said it was pretty late at night for the girls to be out.

Yeah, they shouldn’t have been out making cookies. They should have been at the dance, cursing and drinking! Judge, that’ll be an excellent defense next time some 17- and 18-year-olds are hauled into your court for underage drinking. “Your honor, we were going to make cookies for our neighbors, but we heard what you did to those other kids and didn’t want to get on the wrong side of the law. So we had to go out drinking instead!”

I don’t wish ill on anybody, but it would be poetic justice if the judge’s car got smashed by a drunk driver heading home from a dance after deciding it was too risky to make cookies for the neighbors — and have 5,000 cars pass by over the next six hours with no one stopping to help or call the auto club.

It was reported that Taylor and Lindsey declined to comment Thursday, saying only that they didn’t want to say anything hurtful.

Translation: They were afraid they might get sued for slander if they said what any intelligent person would say in those circumstances.

The bad part is, they’re right!

The girls wrote letters of apology to Young. Taylor’s letter, written a few days after the episode, said in part: “I didn’t realize this would cause trouble for you. … I just wanted you to know that someone cared about you and your family.”

They apologized! They offered to pay! For the offense of giving free cookies!

But was that good enough for Wanita Renea Young? Of course not! Time to sue! She said the apologies “weren’t delivered in person.”

The apologies weren’t delivered in person?!?!?!? What is this, some kind of trap? The cookies themselves were delivered in person, and look what happened to girls after that? Why did Wanita Renea Young want the girls to deliever the apologies in person? So she could shoot them? If you were those girls, would you ever deliever anything in person to that woman, ever again?

Young also thought they shouldn’t have been out so late. Something bad could have happened to them.

Yeah, they could have gotten sued! By someone who thought an apology was not enough to make up for the horrible offense of delivering cookies!

(Hat tip: James Taranto.)

By the way, if you would like to give Wanita Renea Young a piece of your mind, I don’t know how to reach her, but I do know there is only one person with last name Young and first initial W in Durgango, CO, listed in the white pages at Switchboard.com. And if you’d like to have a word with the (mis)judge, he is listed as a licensed attorney in the Colorado Bar and his attorney registration number is 10004.

Of course, if you’d like to send a message of support, the Ostergaard and Zellitti families are also listed at Switchboard.com, where they are the only families in Durango, CO with those names.

Perhaps we should take up a collection to pay the judgement, with the proviso that they use any excess funds for college expenses, or cookies they eat themselves.

By the way, any comment on this from the Girl Scouts?

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