Courts are Driving me Crazy

Two unrelated court cases transpired in two different countries, one concerns a bad case of driving and the other centres around an insurance company.

The latter is about a North Carolina man who purchased some fairly expensive cigars and insured them against fire in 1997. So the guy smokes his entire collection of rare, insured cigars and before making one premium payment he files a claim against the insurance company. His claim was that he lost his cigars in a ‘series of small fires’ and since the insurance company refused to pay out, he sued them. Of course the judge ruled that since the insurance company actually insured the cigars against fire damage it was obligated to pay for the man’s loss. Rather than cover the costs of a lengthy trial, the insurance company agreed to pay the sum of $15,000 to the man for the loss of his cigars. After the man cashed his cheque, the insurers had him arrested on 24 accounts of arson. With his own insurance claim and testimony from the earlier case, he was convicted of intentionally burning the rare cigars and sentenced to 24 consecutive one-year terms.

The former took place a little closer to home in Roscommon, Ireland. A 19-year-old was arrested for dangerous driving on the 4th of July 2009. His charges being: on July 4th – dangerous driving on two accounts, driving without a licence, driving as a Learner Driver unaccompanied and on January 13 – driving with no licence, driving with no insurance, driving with no tax, having two bald tyres, driving without a warning device fitted to an MPV, front identification marks not properly distinguishable, driving without Learner plates and driving as a Learner Driver unaccompanied. He was also charged with not displaying a parking disc. The star witness for the court was a Garda who witnessed everything: he saw the car veer very close to a group of students who had to jump out of the way. When the officer of the law questioned the driver, he was told that he thought it was ‘a bit of fun’ and that he didn’t think it was dangerous. The Garda also said that the tax had been out since the previous August of 2008 and when the insurance company were called the police were informed that a policy had been taken out in November but had expired the next month.

The best part comes next – the lawyer tried to get the guy off the hook by stating that his client didn’t know the danger of cars and that he didn’t know his insurance was lapsed as his family were meant to be paying for it. Luckily this guy is off our roads for the next four years and whether or not he goes to prison depends on how well he does in his school exams.

One of these stories is untrue and you can judge for yourself which it is but to be honest, both cases seem plausible. What really concerns me is the ruling by the court. In circumstance you have an insane insurance case that, when you take into consideration all the frivolous suits you see filed in American courts, is actually believable. The other has a teenager driving recklessly and only getting a 4 year disqualification – surely after endangering the lives of 20 students he should have been sent to prison or at the very least had his licence removed indefinitely!

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