Cruel Intentions, Cheerleaders and Our Judicial System

Cheerleader dates boy. Boy dates new girl. New girl wants to be cheerleader. She fails to make team. She sues.

I may have glossed over some Cruel Intentions/Mean Girlness of it all – the juicy Facebook posts, the calling the new girl a slut, the suspensions and all the fun. But that is the gist of it.cheerleader

The 5th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of this case, concluding this is a “petty squabble, masquerading as a civil rights matter, that has no place in federal court or any other court.

The opinion is interesting and fun (it really trashes Plaintiff’s lawyers). But I think what is important is what the opinion does not say. It does not say this girl – I’m calling her the “new girl” – was not wronged. It does not say she was not wrongfully excluded from the cheerleading team. It does not say she should not have pursued her grievance with school administrators.

Here’s what it does say: not every wrong can or should have a judicial remedy. Let’s say your wife cheats on you with your best friend. You have an epic grievance with her. But that does not mean a lawsuit will solve your problem or right the wrong. I think that is where we as a society have gone a little astray. We look for lawsuits to cure all remedies. Most people, of course, don’t file a lawsuit because they don’t have the money or the resources. But look at celebrities. These people file lawsuits at the drop of a hat. It is just dumb and it diverts attention from people who are really injured who deserve to get compensated. (Like, hmm, for instance: my clients.)

Now, of course, you tort reformers (thanks for reading, by the way) are getting all excited thinking this applies to every wrong. “Life can be tough. Deal with it.” And that’s just wrong too. Just because equitable or monetary relief is inappropriate under one set of facts, it does not mean it is inappropriate under another.

Where do we draw the line? Well, this is why we Americans get paid the big bucks. We have to decide ourselves, subject to constitutional restrictions, what injuries warrant compensation or equitable relief? But long before and long after our Founding Fathers got together, it has been an accepted fact that people who are injured by the negligence of others should be fairly compensated.

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