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In the "no good deed goes unpunished" department...

Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Colorado Teens Fined for Giving Cookies to Neighbor

We have to do something about these ridiculous and frivolous lawsuits. Last time I checked, there are no laws against knocking on someone's door. At least the judge didn't award her punitive damages, but she shouldn't have even received medical costs.
Neeru Misra
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Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 78
The right to self defence is a human right. She has knocked your door, you can knock her....
Joe Cuppa
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 31, 2004
Posts: 14
A couple of things:

1) I wonder what the judge's reasoning was for awarding the plaintiff even her medical expenses.

2) CNN's site said, "the teenagers' families offered to pay Young's medical bills, but she declined and sued, saying their apologies were not sincere and were not offered in person." The site cited did not mention that. (BTW, I understand why the girls did not offer and do not blame the girls for not offering the apology in person once it became a legal matter.)

3) This person is now going to be the neighborhood pariah. We all had one, usually some old widow who looked like a witch and had a thousand cats, growing up. Her ostricism was probably undeserved; this woman's is very deserving.
Max Habibi
town drunk
( and author)
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Joined: Jun 27, 2002
Posts: 4118
whenever I come across a news item that seems to lead me to one conclusion, my spidey sense tingles. I'll rather have a news story that gives me all of the facts, and lets me draw my own conclusions.

After about two minutes of research, I now have some of those facts. As I understand it, the hour of 10:30 PM is significant, because that is the established time of curfew in the area. Yet, Afik, this fact was never reported by any of the media reports on this issue.

In that context, we have a slightly different scenario.

Now we have two well intentioned teenagers who ended up breaking the law, and causing damage to their neighbor. the woman in question, Wanita Renea Young, had previously had break-ins on her property. She wasn't faking her fear; she left to go to her sister's house that night, and only went to the emergency room the next day because her anxiety hadn't subsided. to be honest, I'm thankful that no one was hurt here. I can imagine more tragic scenarios if a person thought that they were about to be burgled.

IMO, if you cause damage to someone, even if you meant to help them, then you're liable for that damage. The judge in the case, Doug Walker, made a wise decision. He didn't fine the girls, because they had acted with good intentions. And he didn't reward Ms. Young, because she should have accepted their apology. However, the girls did cause damage, and they did it in the context of a legal violation.

In my opinion, this case validates the genius of the American Legal system, and provides a reason why we do, in fact, have courts, legal arguments, and judges. If this woman had been forced to pay these hospital bills because of damage caused by 'favors" she neither requested nor wanted, then we really would have had a miscarriage of justice, and the sort of abuse that can result from a simplistic justice system.

M


Java Regular Expressions
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Is that curfew imposed by law?
Never heard of that happening since the end of WW2. Individual people being placed under curfew because they're troublemakers or known rapists yes, entire communities no.

And IF that were the case, it would be a matter of criminal law.

This sounds to me like just another ambulance chaser operation, a lawyer trying to make a buck (and in this case getting a few million less than he expected maybe)...

Maybe the families of the kids should countersue for several million for the emotional damage done to them by that woman's frivolous lawsuit, especially in the face of them offering to pay her medical bills for a condition that is most likely completely unrelated to her finding a packet of cookies on her doorstep.

3) This person is now going to be the neighborhood pariah. We all had one, usually some old widow who looked like a witch and had a thousand cats, growing up. Her ostricism was probably undeserved; this woman's is very deserving.

No laughing, but where I grew up we had indeed this exact stereotypical figure living next door.
Old woman, hundreds of evil looking cats (strays, ferals, etc.), in an old house with a sagging roof and small windows with the shutters always closed...


42
Max Habibi
town drunk
( and author)
Sheriff

Joined: Jun 27, 2002
Posts: 4118
Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
Is that curfew imposed by law?
Never heard of that happening since the end of WW2.


It's not at all uncommon America, but usually only applies to teenagers. Several of the cities I've lived in have had them. The judge probably chose, wisely in my opinion, to overlook the legal lapse, because the teenagers really were well intentioned.

This sounds to me like just another ambulance chaser operation, a lawyer trying to make a buck (and in this case getting a few million less than he expected maybe)...


and that might be your opinion, depending on your cultural and socioeconomic background. However,I doubt there was even a lawyer involved: it was probably all handled in small claims court.



Maybe the families of the kids should countersue for several million for the emotional damage done to them by that woman's frivolous lawsu

That would, I think, really be a trite usage of the American legal system. There's no doubt that Ms. Young suffered a financial injury due to the actions of the two well-meaning teenagers. I doubt the same could be said by the teenagers.

M
Madhav Lakkapragada
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IMO, if you cause damage to someone, even if you meant to help them, then you're liable for that damage.

aha! The pottery barn rule...........

- m


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Warren Dew
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Max Habibi:

It's not at all uncommon America, but usually only applies to teenagers. Several of the cities I've lived in have had them. The judge probably chose, wisely in my opinion, to overlook the legal lapse, because the teenagers really were well intentioned.

Possibly also because such laws are often of questionable constitutionality, depending on the details and the state.
Steven Bell
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Joined: Dec 29, 2004
Posts: 1071
Originally posted by Max Habibi:

After about two minutes of research, I now have some of those facts. As I understand it, the hour of 10:30 PM is significant, because that is the established time of curfew in the area. Yet, Afik, this fact was never reported by any of the media reports on this issue.
M


Actually that fact is mentioned in the article linked in the first post.
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
The fact Max refers to is that 10:30 PM is the curfew in Durango, Colorado. That's not mentioned in the article. Of course it's very possible that the reason it's not mentioned is because it's not really relevant here - the curfew only applies to children under the age of 16. The girls in question were 17 and 18 years old.

In case anyone is wondering: 17- and 18-year-old girls are welcome to drop off cookies at my house after 10:30 PM. I have no problem with that. Honest.
[ February 06, 2005: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

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Steven Bell
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It's hard to decide what is more ridiculous, the old lady turning down the offer to pay her medical bills so she can sue, or the judge finding in her favor.
Max Habibi
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( and author)
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Joined: Jun 27, 2002
Posts: 4118
Originally posted by Warren Dew:
Max Habibi:

Possibly also because such laws are often of questionable constitutionality, depending on the details and the state.


I'm not aware of such laws being questionable, constitutionality speaking. nor am I aware of them being questionable often, constitutionality speaking. What leads you to believe that they are? Remember, we're talking about minors here.

Jim:
I seem to recall reading that the curfew was in effect for all minors, but that it might only be enforced for those under 16? Can you confirm? I should know this: I used to live in Ft. Collins.

M
[ February 07, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Bacon
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Posts: 305
Originally posted by Madhav Lakkapragada:
IMO, if you cause damage to someone, even if you meant to help them, then you're liable for that damage.

aha! The pottery barn rule...........

- m


Yes, but an innocent act with no overt chance of injury should not be included. The plaintiff had an unusual condition and technically the anxiety harmed her. Someone that sensitive could be set off by any number of things. It is ludicrous to say the a person making a neighborly gesture is liable for such a thing. A person this sick is barely functional in society. I'm not being cruel, I'm sure she can't help it and wishes it were not so, but to blame those girls is paranoid and irrational. And for the judge to agree is beyond comprehension.

If you do something irresponsible and cause harm, however unintentional, then I would agree with you.
[ February 07, 2005: Message edited by: Ray Marsh ]
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
yet somehow she was capable of filing a lawsuit and attending the court without suffering an anxiety attack.
Somehow I'd think that finding a pack of cookies on your doorstep would be a lot less stressful than facing a judge???
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Posts: 13974
Now we have two well intentioned teenagers who ended up breaking the law, and causing damage to their neighbor.

I'm sorry but [I disagree]. First, one of the teenagers was 18, not a minor (and the curfew only applies to children under 16, neither were under 16). Second, just because you do something that causes someone an injury does not mean you are responsible. If I knock on your door and you fall down the stairs on your way to answer it, do you really think I am responsible? If you walk past my cubicle and startle me and I spill my coffee and ruin my suit, dfo you have to pay for the cleaning? The rule has to do with reasonableness. This woman's over-active imagination leading her to an ER was not a reasonable response to someone knocking on her door at 10:30 at night. But I bet it keeps anyone from ever knocking on her door again.

At least the girls have learned an important lesson... it's better to go to a party and drink and cuss than it is to do good deeds for your neighbors.
[ February 08, 2005: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

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Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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[Max]: I seem to recall reading that the curfew was in effect for all minors, but that it might only be enforced for those under 16? Can you confirm?

No, but I can deny. The relevant regulation seems to be Sec. 17-131 of Durango's city code. It only appears to apply to children under 16 (with some possible exemptions even from that group).

I should know this: I used to live in Ft. Collins.

Really? When was this? I don't think that rules in Ft. Collins would have anything to do with Durango though - where curfews exist in the US, they're enacted by city governments, not state. As far as I know, anyway.
Max Habibi
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Posts: 4118
Thomas Paul:I'm sorry but I disagree. First, one of the teenagers was 18, not a minor (and the curfew only applies to children under 16, neither were under 16).


This is a very valid point, and one that I was wrong about. The curfew did not apply the girls. However, it's pretty clear that a tresspassing law was broken. The durango city code, Sec. 17-57. Trespassing, reads as following



(f) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly, during the nighttime, enter upon any privately owned premises of another which is not open to the use of the public, unless that person has first obtained the consent of the owner or person in possession or control thereof.


Now, you could argue that a front door is "open to the use of the public", in which case the following sections of the law becomes relevant.

(2) A person "enters unlawfully" or "remains unlawfully" in or upon premises when the person is not licensed, invited, or otherwise privileged to do so. A person who, regardless of their intent, enters or remains in or upon premises that are at the time open to the public, does so with license and privilege unless the person defies a lawful order not to enter or remain, personally communicated to them by the owner of the premises or some other authorized person. A license or privilege to enter or remain in a building that is only partially open to the public is not a license or privilege to enter or remain in that part of the building that is not open to the public.


But you could argue that a private residence is 'open to the public @ 10:30 PM", or that Ms. Young didn't have enough of a fence(I don't even know if she had a fence), in which case the following section of the law becomes important.



It shall be unlawful for any person to enter or remain in or upon premises of another which are enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders, are fenced, or are posted with "no trespass" signs or if such person knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in or upon the common areas of a hotel, motel, condominium or apartment building, without permission.


Or you could just argue that the teenagers showed poor judgement by knocking on an old lady's door @ 10:30 pm.


Thomas Paul:Second, just because you do something that causes someone an injury does not mean you are responsible.

If you do something illegal or ill-advised, then yes, you are responsible for the resulting injuries.

If I knock on your door and you fall down the stairs on your way to answer it, do you really think I am responsible?


That depends on why you were on my property in the first place. Are you trespassing? Are you trying to sell me something when I have a no soliciting sign up?

Thomas Paul:If you walk past my cubicle and startle me and I spill my coffee and ruin my suit, dfo you have to pay for the cleaning?


As you describe the scenario, of course not. But if I run into you and you spill your coffee, then yes. The issue here is what the person was doing when you suffered an injury at their hand. I would argue that teenagers who are knocking on people's door at 10:30 at night are doing something ill-advised.

Thomas Paul:The rule has to do with reasonableness. This woman's over-active imagination leading her to an ER was not a reasonable response to someone knocking on her door at 10:30 at night.

Or it might be her mental illness, or her accumulated experience with past break ins, etc. We don't really know, but I have some faith that the judge who heard the case, and who knows all of the details that we do not, arrived at a reasonable decision. Of course, it's fine not to share such faith. However, it seems premature to declare the judge a fool or some such in the absence of such information.


Thomas Paul:But I bet it keeps anyone from ever knocking on her door again.

At least the girls have learned an important lesson... it's better to go to a party and drink and cuss than it is to do good deeds for your neighbors.


I wonder, sceptic that I am, if there really was a party, or if this was a clever hyperbole invented by their lawyer.


Jim

Thanks for following up.

JW:yet somehow she was capable of filing a lawsuit and attending the court without suffering an anxiety attack.
Somehow I'd think that finding a pack of cookies on your doorstep would be a lot less stressful than facing a judge???


As someone who's suffered from a break in, I think they are sufficiently terrifying, and I'm a 200 lbs free-fighter. I can't imagine what it's like for an old woman.

M
[ February 08, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Nick George
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Some things one must take upon oneself. Whenever something unfun happens, such as excessive anxiety, instantly pointing the finger leads to a decidedly silly society.


I've heard it takes forever to grow a woman from the ground
Marc Peabody
pie sneak
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Joined: Feb 05, 2003
Posts: 4727

So how dark was it at the time of delivery?

Weather that day.

Astronomical Twilight came at 10pm. You don't go knocking on your neighbors' doors that late, even on Halloween (which wasn't for another 3 months).

The girls _could_ have pled temporary insanity. There was a full moon that night.


A good workman is known by his tools.
Bacon
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 14, 2004
Posts: 305
I hope the community takes a collection for those girls and shows their support. The girls showed, perhaps, a bit of bad judgement knocking on a neighbor's door at 10:30pm, however, they were being nice trying to do something neighborly and kind. That's something that we want our kids to be, right?... neighborly and kind? There is nothing reasonable about this judge's decision whatsoever. The decisions that come out of our courts continually perplex me.
[ February 09, 2005: Message edited by: Ray Marsh ]
Marc Peabody
pie sneak
Sheriff

Joined: Feb 05, 2003
Posts: 4727

Originally posted by Ray Marsh:
That's something that we want our kids to be, right?... neighborly and kind?


But they should be considerate of others when doing good deeds.
If you don't agree, go mow your neighbors' lawns in the middle of the night.
Max Habibi
town drunk
( and author)
Sheriff

Joined: Jun 27, 2002
Posts: 4118
Originally posted by Ray Marsh:
I hope the community takes a collection for those girls and shows their support. The girls showed, perhaps, a bit of bad judgement knocking on a neighbor's door at 10:30pm, however, they were being nice trying to do something neighborly and kind. That's something that we want our kids to be, right?... neighborly and kind? There is nothing reasonable about this judge's decision whatsoever. The decisions that come out of our courts continually perplex me.

[ February 09, 2005: Message edited by: Ray Marsh ]


Ray. I agree with almost all of your sentiments. The girls were trying to be nice, and yes, I would want children to be similarly inclined. However, I disagree with your opinion on the judge's actions.

In my opinion, punitive damages would have been inappropriate, based on the amount of information I have on the subject. However, actual damages incurred by the woman as a direct result of the actions of the teenagers should not have to be borne by her. She was already frightened, driven out of her home, and forced to visit the emergency room. She shouldn't have to pay almost a $1,000 in bills in addition.

The judge managed to walk a fine line and balance the kindness of the girls with the real damages suffered by Ms. Young. She was not awarded punitive damages because the girls did not deserve to be punished. And if Ms. Young had not had to visit the emergency room, she would not have been granted actual damages either.

At the same time, the girls were not punished for kindness, but did have to take responsibility for damage caused by their actions. All and all, I think it's worked out with a minimum of damage to both parties. As I said previously, with teenagers knocking on the door of a former break-in victim @ 10:30 pm, and refusing to identify themselves when called out to, I'm very, very glad that more tragic results were avoided.

M
Jason Menard
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Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
If the woman was afraid she was being broken into, why didn't she call the police when she heard the knock on the door? If the woman thought she was having a heart attack, she should have called EMS immediately, not waited until the next day (after her legal plan was formulated?) to go to the emergency room. Her distress was not a direct result of having her door knocked on. Her distress was more a direct result of her being unbalanced, possibly as a result of a previous break-in.

The teenagers were not charged with breaking curfew, and they were not charged with trespassing, so in my opinon, these aren't factors. What it comes down to is that what they were found guilty of, is simply knocking on her door. So a few lessons were probably learned here: go to the party, drink, and cuss; every neighbor should stay as far away from that woman as possible; we are not responsible for our own problems, and anyone who sets us off is to blame, not ourselves for not seeking treatment.
Jeroen Wenting
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Correct Jason.
She just used a supposed anxiety disorder (the only indication she had an attack as a result of hearing a knock on her door is her own statement after all) to get money from some kids.
My guess is she got a lot less than she'd hoped for, probably seen a lot of reports of multi million dollar damages being awarded for miniscule things and decided to give it a try...
Mark Fletcher
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Posts: 897
A minor setback for the kids as well, Im sure that the loss incurred has more than been set off by selling the story to the press.

Heck thats what I would do if I had to shell out $900 for knocking on a neighbours door.

Mark


Mark Fletcher - http://www.markfletcher.org/blog
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Max Habibi
town drunk
( and author)
Sheriff

Joined: Jun 27, 2002
Posts: 4118
If the woman was afraid she was being broken into, why didn't she call the police when she heard the knock on the door?


Remember that she's elderly, and that this was in the middle of the night. Remember that girls ran away when asked if anyone was there. Perhaps she wasn't thinking clearly. Perhaps she grew and more and more frightened as time progressed. It's difficult to speculate without knowing all of the facts, and it seems less then charitable to atribute it to malice.

If the woman thought she was having a heart attack, she should have called EMS immediately, not waited until the next day


After the late night incident, Mr. Young was too frightened to stay home alone, and went to her sister's home. The next morning, since she was still suffering some symptoms that, given her age, certainly could have been a heart attack, she decided to visit the emergency room. This is exactly what she should have done, given her symptoms. If you've ever spent time around the elderly, you'll notice that this sort of behavior is perfectly consistent for them.


(after her legal plan was formulated?) to go to the emergency room. Her distress was not a direct result of having her door knocked on.



I disagree. If Taylor Ostergaard and Lindsey Jo Zellitte had not knocked on Wanita Young's door in the middle of the night and run away when she asked who was there, there would not have been a reason for her distress. Hence,
there would not an anxiety attack, an ER visit, or legal action.

It seems clear, in my opinion, that her distress was a direct result of having her door knocked on the middle of the night by two unknown persons who refused to identify themselves and fled when they were discovered. In my mind, that seems like a pretty direct relationship.



Her distress was more a direct result of her being unbalanced, possibly as a result of a previous break-in.

I'm certain that the previous break-ins made it reasonable for her to believe that her home was being broken into again. and yes, perhaps she did react in a way that two men in their thirties, such as you and I, might not have.

But perhaps her behavior isn't unreasonable, given that she's was a frightened old woman with strangers pounding on her door in the middle of the night. It seems less then obvious that 'cookie' might not be her first guess.


The teenagers were not charged with breaking curfew, and they were not charged with trespassing, so in my opinion, these aren't factors.


I disagree. I think it's clear, from the sections of the city code I offered above, that the girls were, indeed, technically trespassing. In my opinion, the judge was wise not to pursue the issue, and he was also wise to take it into account when he ordered that Ms. Young be compensated for her medical expenses. Most people would agree that it's inappropriate to knock on a stranger's door in the middle of the night and run away when approached. It's a particularly bad idea if the stranger is elderly. That just seems like common sense and common courtesy.



What it comes down to is that what they were found guilty of, is simply knocking on her door.


I don't think it was simply knocking on her door. I think they were found guilty of knocking on her door in the middle of the night, refusing to identify themselves, and running away when approached. yes, that's bad judgment; their parents should have taught them better.


So a few lessons were probably learned here: go to the party, drink, and cuss; every neighbor should stay as far away from that woman as possible; we are not responsible for our own problems, and anyone who sets us off is to blame, not ourselves for not seeking treatment.

I think this is an oversimplification, and not really the lesson taken away. I think the more realistic lesson was 'don't bother old people you don't know in the middle of the night'. I don't think the girls are walking around thinking 'I MUST CURSE'. 'I MUST DRINK'. 'I MUST PARTY'. I suppose it's possible, of course. It's hard to tell what people are teaching their children these days. But I spent some time growing in a small Colorado town, and it's not the way we were raised.

M
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Remember that girls ran away when asked if anyone was there.

I don't see that from the article, does this come from another source? The closest the article had to this:

But Young said she was frightened because the two had knocked on her door at about 10:30 p.m. and run off after leaving the cookies.


What I take from that is that they put the cookies on the porch, knocked (probably just to get the ladies attention to open the door and find the cookies), and then left. Kind of like my UPS guy does. It doesn't say that they ran when they were challenged, or ran when she asked who was there or anything like that, it simply implies that they knocked and left without waiting around. Happens to me all the time when I'm getting a package delivered.

It's difficult to speculate without knowing all of the facts, and it seems less then charitable to atribute it to malice.

I would agree except that the case ended up in court and she was seeking punitive damages. If she was just seeking medical costs I would agree that there was no malice or greed involved, but whenever I see cases such as this where she runs to court to seek more than she is entitled to, it doesn't seem unreasonable to believe that she was seeing dollar signs right from the beginning. This to me makes her seem like the people who are involved in extremely minor auto accidents, and all of a sudden start complaining of neck and back pain when you know they are flat out lying to you and that they just want to try to milk a lawsuit out of the situation. And that happens all the time. But as you said, I could certainly be wrong.

The next morning, since she was still suffering some symptoms that, given her age, certainly could have been a heart attack, she decided
to visit the emergency room.


I'd be curious as to what her symptoms actually were, but I suspect that it was her anxiety that led her to believe she may have had a heart attack. There's really no way any of us can know unfortunately. I also wouldn't be surprised if she has a medical history of anxiety disorder. I've run across some of these people and it can be very hard at times for them to function normally in society, given that anything can set off their disorder. You can't blame the catalyst for triggering the disorder as you never know what will set it off. To me it seems like an asthmatic trying to sue a smoker for setting off an asthma attack. In any event, I'm not questioning whether or not should have gone to the ER, merely questioning her timing.

This is exactly what she should have done, given her symptoms. If you've ever spent time around the elderly, you'll notice that this sort of behavior is perfectly consistent for them.

I don't know what her symptoms were, but I totaly agree that whatever they were, she should have gone to the ER (preferably immediately instead of waiting though). Still, I would hardly classify a 49 year old woman as elderly.

I disagree. If Taylor Ostergaard and Lindsey Jo Zellitte had not knocked on Wanita Young's door in the middle of the night and run away when she asked who was there, there would not have been a reason for her distress. Hence, there would not an anxiety attack, an ER visit, or legal action.

Although there is nothing mentioned in the article about them running away when asked who was there, you've touched on my entire argument. What I'm arguing is that a woman with her (assumed) medical condition does not require a specific catalyst to trigger her disorder. What I mean is, any catalyst will do. For example, a raccoon rummaging through her garbage seems like it could set her off, or a branch tapping her window in the wind. In such an instance it isn't the raccoon that's to blame, or the branch and wind that are to blame, it is her medical condition that is to blame.

Back in 2001, the DC area among others was hit with an anthrax scare. I ran a call in the middle of the night during that time for a woman with a rash on her hand. The thing is, she was convinced she had been exposed to anthrax and was hysterical. There was no rational reason whatsoever to believe she had been exposed, but she believed it. She had some kind of anxiety disorder. If the rash hadn't set her off, something else would have. It was her anxiety disorder that was to blame for her believing she had been exposed to Anthrax, nothing more. Similarly I came into contact with a WTC survivor who since then was prone to severe anxiety attacks. Her friends never knew what could set her off, and to be honest she was barely able to function out in public anymore, but her attacks certainly couldn't be blamed on the numerous catalysts, they were merely a result of her disorder.

I'm just trying to emphasize that I believe we can't go around blaming other people for somebody else's medical problems. Those who have them have to live with them and take responsibility for themselves and their conditions, not go around holding others responsible for things that they can't possibly control. To me this whole things seems like the woman is refusing to accept her condition and the rammifications it has on her life, blaming others as a result. It further seems that the judge has reinforced this woman's belief, which to me would be the wrong message. That said, there's only so much any of us can really tell from such limitied information.

It seems clear, in my opinion, that her distress was a direct result of having her door knocked on the middle of the night by two unknown persons who refused to identify themselves and fled when they were discovered. In my mind, that seems like a pretty direct relationship.

I'm certain that the previous break-ins made it reasonable for her to believe that her home was being broken into again.

However anxiety disorders don't make people behave in reasonable manners. So even if it seemed reasonable to her, that doesn't mean it was reasonable due to her condition. These people always believe they are being reasonable and rational, but sadly, that's not often the case.

As for the rest, just let me reiterate two things... She wasn't old, she was middle-aged at 49. Also, here's no evidence that they ran when challenged, merely that they didn't stick around after they knocked, which to me is two different things (not discounting that they in fact may have ran when challenged, just pointing out that I don;t see that in the limited info we have).

Still, to me this is just another example of what seems to have become a judicially enforced "victim society", as opposed to a society where responsibility is accorded appropriately. However, since I don't know the woman, don't know the girls, and don't have all the info, I'm certainly open to the possibility that I have totaly misread the situation. But then again, if I had all the facts there would be little use in entertaining but otherwise pointless conjecture.
[ February 09, 2005: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Jim Yingst
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
[Max]: Remember that girls ran away when asked if anyone was there.

[Jason]: I don't see that from the article, does this come from another source?


From here:
But Young, home with her own 18-year-old daughter and her elderly mother, said she saw shadowy figures who banged and banged at her door. When she called out, "Who's there?" no one answered. The figures ran off.

She thought perhaps they were burglars or some neighbors she had tangled with in the past, she said.

"We just wanted to surprise them," Taylor said.


On another front, it seems that the girls have gotten ample donations to cover their costs.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
If the woman thought she was having a heart attack, she should have called EMS immediately, not waited until the next day


After the late night incident, Mr. Young was too frightened to stay home alone, and went to her sister's home. The next morning, since she was still suffering some symptoms that, given her age, certainly could have been a heart attack, she decided to visit the emergency room. This is exactly what she should have done, given her symptoms. If you've ever spent time around the elderly, you'll notice that this sort of behavior is perfectly consistent for them.


So she was too afraid to go look who was there but not too afraid to go out on the street alone in the middle of the night to visit her sister?
Maybe even called a cab (which everyone knows are driven by people who are not to be trusted)...
Warren Dew
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Max Habibi:

I'm not aware of such laws being questionable, constitutionality speaking. nor am I aware of them being questionable often, constitutionality speaking. What leads you to believe that they are? Remember, we're talking about minors here.

There have been various cases of curfew laws being thrown out over the years for constitutional issues. Our board of alderman refused to pass such a law last year for similar reasons. I believe the issues have to do with "the right of the people peaceably to assemble" from Amendment 1 of the U.S. constitution or similar guarantees in various state constitutions.

The bill of rights makes no distinction between adults and minors.

That said, I agree with you on the basic issue: if the girls caused damage to the woman, she was still within her rights to collect. Even if she (or an ambulance chasing lawyer) was nasty or greedy about it, people who are nasty or greedy have the same rights under the law as anyone else.

On the other hand, I don't think it's reasonable to claim that the woman had a right to collect and at the same time claim that the girls were being kind. If the woman suffered damage, the girls were being cruel, even if unwittingly; even if they meant to be kind, they failed, badly.

I think the lesson is, don't do good to people unless you're sure they'll also think it's good. Otherwise you're just imposing your own will on others without their permission.
Max Habibi
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There have been various cases of curfew laws being thrown out over the years for constitutional issues.

Can you please cite some? Remember, as before, that we're talking about curfew laws in the context of minors.

The bill of rights makes no distinction between adults and minors.

That may be true, but it's irrelevant. The American legal system does make a distinction between the rights of minors and adults. That is why being a minor is an important legal distinction.

I don't think it's reasonable to claim that the woman had a right to collect and at the same time claim that the girls were being kind. If the woman suffered damage, the girls were being cruel, even if unwittingly; even if they meant to be kind, they failed, badly.

I disagree. I find it reasonable that the well intentioned actions of the teens ended up causing damage, and that the girls are responsible for that damage. Perhaps you're arguing that the girls failed to achieve their goal of being nice, which is an interesting argument, but somewhat at odds with how the term 'nice' is used in common American English as I understand it. Nice is usually a matter of intention, not consequence.

M
[ February 10, 2005: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
Max Habibi
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Remember that girls ran away when asked if anyone was there.

I don't see that from the article, does this come from another source? The closest the article had to this:


I see that Jim had already addressed this, but yes. It's from secondary news source. I should have been more clear.
I would agree except that the case ended up in court and she was seeking punitive damages.

Perhaps she feels differently about all of this then you and I do. Perhaps she's angry and frustrated about being frightened, and being forced to go to the hospital, and about being the center of a media circus just because she tried to go to sleep in own house and bed on Friday night.


I'd be curious as to what her symptoms actually were, but I suspect that it was her anxiety

Very probably, it was some of the following:
  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes.
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms. The pain may be mild to intense. It may feel like pressure, tightness, burning, or heavy weight. It may be located in the chest, upper abdomen, neck, jaw, or inside the arms or shoulders.
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
  • Anxiety, nervousness and/or cold, sweaty skin.
  • Paleness or pallor.
  • Increased or irregular heart rate.
  • Feeling of impending doom.


  • I can see how someone well past middle age and still feeling these symptoms the next morning would seriously consider a heart attack.

    that led her to believe she may have had a heart attack. There's really no way any of us can know unfortunately. I also wouldn't be surprised if she has a medical history of anxiety disorder.I've run across some of these people and it can be very hard at times for them to function normally in society, given that anything can set off their disorder.


    I don't think we can fairly conclude that she has anxiety disorder, or that if she did, the degree to which she had it, and how that degree might, or might not, affect her behavior.

    You can't blame the catalyst for triggering the disorder as you never know what will set it off.

    I don't agree, even assuming that she did, in fact, have a disorder. While you can't blame every event in her vicinity, some are more reasonable suspects. People knocking at your door in the middle of the night, then running of when confronted: yes, I can see how that might be frightening.


    I don't know what her symptoms were, but I totally agree that whatever they were, she should have gone to the ER (preferably immediately instead of waiting though).


    Perhaps she didn't want to go the ER: Perhaps she tried not to. Perhaps she only went the next morning because her symptoms had not abated and her sister insisted.
    Still, I would hardly classify a 49 year old woman as elderly.

    Webster's defines Elderly as being past middle aged. Unless you're willing to argue that you expect her to live until the age of 98, I think it's fair to conclude that she's elderly.



    What I'm arguing is that a woman with her (assumed) medical condition does not require a specific catalyst to trigger her disorder. What I mean is, any catalyst will do. For example, a raccoon rummaging through her garbage seems like it could set her off, or a branch tapping her window in the wind. In such an instance it isn't the raccoon that's to blame, or the branch and wind that are to blame, it is her medical condition that is to blame.


    I think I understand your argument, but I disagree with it. There are two logical paths here.
  • she has an anxiety disorder( that we don't know about).

  • --In this case, you are arguing that just because such a condition does not require a specific catalyst for every patient, that Wanita Renea Young's supposed condition did not have a specific catalyst in this case. This does not seem like a reasonable conclusion, given the premise.
  • she does not have an anxiety disorder.

  • --I don't think I need to articulate this argument.

    I'm just trying to emphasize that I believe we can't go around blaming other people for somebody else's medical problems.

    Of course, I would agree, unless there's compelling evidence that they are, in fact, to blame. I believe that, in this case, given the arguments I've cited, there is such compelling evidence.


    It seems clear, in my opinion, that her distress was a direct result of having her door knocked on the middle of the night by two unknown persons who refused to identify themselves and fled when they were discovered. In my mind, that seems like a pretty direct relationship.

    I'm certain that the previous break-ins made it reasonable for her to believe that her home was being broken into again.

    However anxiety disorders don't make people behave in reasonable manners.

    This is true. However, there are two very important points here.
  • Not all claims by people who suffer from anxiety disorder are to dismissed, as it they [i]couldn't possible [i] have been reasonable. After all, even someone who suffer from an anxiety disorder can have her house catch on fire, be burgled, or be assaulted.
  • I'm not aware of any evidence that supports the conjuncture that Wanita Renea Young suffers from an anxiety disorder. I believe it's reasonable for a 49 year old woman who's along @ her house and hears a banging on her door in the middle of the night to be frightened: especially so when the unknown persons doing the knocking run away when she asks them to identify themselves.



  • But then again, if I had all the facts there would be little use in entertaining but otherwise pointless conjecture.

    I agree. What would be the fun in that?

    M
    Jason Menard
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    Joined: Nov 09, 2000
    Posts: 6450
    Very probably, it was some of the following:
  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes.
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms. The pain may be mild to intense. It may feel like pressure, tightness, burning, or heavy weight. It may be located in the chest, upper abdomen, neck, jaw, or inside the arms or shoulders.
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
  • Anxiety, nervousness and/or cold, sweaty skin.
  • Paleness or pallor.
  • Increased or irregular heart rate.
  • Feeling of impending doom.


  • While I'm aware what the signs and symptoms of a heart attack are, I was curious as to what her actual symptoms were, since they were likely not consistent with a heart attack. I should also point out that "paleness or pallor" and "feeling of impending doom" aren't by themselves signs of a heart attack. They could be signs of many things, including signs that someone has just watched the latest Jessica Simpson movie.
    [ February 12, 2005: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
    Max Habibi
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    I guessed that you might be aware of some of the symptoms. My point in articulating the actual symptoms was to show that a reasonable person could, and should, take serious symptoms of anxiety as seriously as a heart attack, as it were. Espeiclly at 49 years of age. As for Jessica Simpson: be honest, you'd probably beg

    M
    Steven Bell
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    Joined: Dec 29, 2004
    Posts: 1071
    This "elderly" woman (if I called my mom elderly she's probably smack me, I would put that label more to my grandma and great-grandma) took two teenagers, who were trying to be nice, to court rather than accept the offer of payment of medical bills. To me that is all the information I need to see that this was a ridiculous lawsuit and the "elderly" woman should simply be avoided like the plauge from then on.

    This is a vindictive woman who wanted to punish two girls, who broke no laws, and were trying to be nice.

    I can't believe anybody would actually defend this.
    kayal cox
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    Posts: 376
    Steven: This "elderly" woman (if I called my mom elderly she's probably smack me, I would put that label more to my grandma and great-grandma) took two teenagers, who were trying to be nice, to court rather than accept the offer of payment of medical bills. To me that is all the information I need to see that this was a ridiculous lawsuit


    I agree.
    Max Habibi
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    Joined: Jun 27, 2002
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    This "elderly" woman took two teenagers, who were trying to be nice, to court rather than accept the offer of payment of medical bills. To me that is all the information I need to see that this was a ridiculous lawsuit and the "elderly" woman should simply be avoided like the plauge from then on.


    It's possible that she did not appreciate being frightened in the middle of the night and sent to the hospital, and thus was understandably feeling ornery. I know as little about the case as you do.

    However, I don't think that this case illustrates justice gone awry: rather, I think it demonstrates the effectiveness of the American Justice system, and the wisdom of the judge. Yes, she made a case for punitive damages, in addition to actual damages. She had her day in court, the judge listened to all sides, and gave her, in my opinion what she deserves, but no more. The judge could have taken the no-doubt-popular choice of letting the teenagers avoid responsibility for the financial damage Ms. Young suffered, but he did the ethical thing and held them accountable for exactly the damage they caused. Further, he did not award punitive damages, because he realized that the teenagers were, in fact, trying to be kind.


    This is a vindictive woman who wanted to punish two girls, who broke no laws, and were trying to be nice.

    I can't believe anybody would actually defend this.

    I disagree with your characterization: I think this is elderly woman who was alone, frightened, and forced to seek medical attention because two teenagers showed the poor judgement of knocking on her door in the middle of the night, and then running away when they were approached. Ms. Young didn't ask for any cookies: she just wanted to go to bed in her own home and sleep peacefully. Everyone should have the right to that without being disturbed. Does she deserve to be awarded punitive damages? In my opinion, no. However, does she deserve to be burdened with a $900 medical bill through no fault of her own? Again, in my opinion, no.

    That being said, I do agree that this is an unfortunate situation, and I am glad that all the people involved didn't suffer greater mishaps. This all could have been much, much worse.

    M
    Steven Bell
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    Joined: Dec 29, 2004
    Posts: 1071
    My point is not that this is justice gone awry. My point is that this should never have gotten to court in the first place. It is a waste of the judges time, the families time, and taxpayer dollars. The judge put into place what could have been done effortlessly without the disruption of everybodies lives from a lawsuit. Not to mention that the solution was proposed by the family of the girls.

    IF the family of the girls had refused to make good on the medical bills then maybe I could see this going to court, but that is not the case.

    I stand by my evaluation of the "elderly" woman and find it ridiculous and sad that there are so many people defending her actions.
    Max Habibi
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    Joined: Jun 27, 2002
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    Steven,

    I think I understand what your opinion is, but I'm not sure I'm following your reasoning. Are you saying that if Wanita Renea Young had an argument to make about why she should be compensated beyond her medical bills, then judge Walker should have refused to hear those arguments because they lacked merit?

    If seems that in order for him to do so, he would have to know if the arguments had merit before actually hearing them. Otherwise, I can't think of a way for him to make that distinction. At this point, the argument seems a bit circular. What am I missing?

    M
    Jeroen Wenting
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    Joined: Oct 12, 2000
    Posts: 5093
    the judge, seeing the case history which clearly should have included the refusal to accept compensation when offered, should have immediately concluded that the woman had no case and thrown it out (in fact making her pay all legal cost to the defendants as well).
    This is a clear case of a frivolous lawsuit, exactly the kind the US government is attempting to stamp out.
    The woman probably didn't get what she wanted, reeking massive profits as seen on television.
     
    I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
     
    subject: In the "no good deed goes unpunished" department...