Exactly What One Might Expect from a Yalie

from the AZ Republic:

A Yale University student is suing US Airways for $1 million because of the loss of a video game system he claims was taken from his luggage.

Ohio resident Jesse Maiman, 21, claims his Xbox 360 console was taken from his bag during a December flight from New Haven, Conn. to Cincinnati.

He is suing for $1,700 for the video game system and for the maximum damages allowable by law, or $1 million.

You can read the article all day and you will not find any extenuating circumstances to justify this arbitrarily absurd number.   Even $1,700 for the game system itself is absurd.  One hour of legal time on this would be worth more than the machine.


  1. morganovich:

    the punitive damages aspect of our legal system is ridiculous. while, in some cases, i can see the use of such a system to affect behavior (though given class action status many of these argument are a bit flimsy), the perverse incentives it creates so dramatically outweigh the benefits that it really ought to be done away with.

    if we must keep it a simple change would eliminate most of the abuse. punitive damages do not go to the plaintiff. they go toward paying down the US debt. keeps all the deterrence and eliminates the incentives to launch ludicrous suits. (except perhaps for the government)

    the above case ought to be a small claims issue, not a superior court matter.

    it could easily be a loser as well. can he prove it was in his luggage? i had that issue when my travel bag with $6000 in suits alone went missing. i wound up getting $3000 for what was about $12,000 in clothing.

  2. Chris Byrne:

    Actually, the machines are worth about $400, plus about $70 a piece for games, and $40 a piece for controllers; so if games and controllers were also taken, $1700 is certainly possible.

    I suspect however that is an arbitrary number based on the maximum compensatory damages allowed per piece of luggage, plus fees etc...

    I have a very good attorney, who is currently charging $250 an hour; though I suspect the airlines lawyers are charging substantially more, I wouldn't say an hour of lawyeers time is worth more than an Xbox, especially with games etc...

    His punitive damage request however is, I agree, ridiculous and frivolous; and he will most likely be slapped with costs far in excess of any settlement he might have received. The terms of your ticekt specify binding arbitration with a maximum liability limit per bag; and they are pretty ironclad.

  3. Mesa Econoguy:

    Perhaps the Xbox was wearing a turban and chanting in a strange language……?

  4. Iain:

    I read this via overlawyered a couple of days ago.

    My reading of this is that his baggage arrived, sans Xbox. So an airline employee (or airport employee acting on their behalf) has stolen it. He complained and got ignored by the airline.

    So, I read this as "Dammit, you *will* pay attention to this theft. Compensate me for my actual loss, and give your complaints team a kick up the arse!".

    Though I have no sympathy for $1 million, I do have sympathy for punishing the airline somewhat. Make it more expensive to give bad customer service than good. So, a few thousand punishment.

    Still makes it marginal whether it's worth going through large legal hoops. I assume you have a small claims court equivalent on the left side of the atlantic?


  5. Hey now:

    I'm reasonably sure that I am not the only graduate of Yale who regularly reads this blog and thinks that you generally provide insightful commentary on the news, especially as filtered through the lens of your own business and life experience.

    I can personally assure you that not all Yale graduates would file a lawsuit like this, and that the vast majority of Yale graduates are reasonable normal people.

    But, even if all Yale graduates were stuck up pricks, I'm not sure that it would make sense to demonize the school. You have a lot of great perspectives on how the country should be run. I assume you write this blog in part to spread those ideas, with the goal of influencing policy. I can guarantee you that a lot of Yale graduates (and graduates of a lot of other Ivy and Ivy-type schools) hold positions of power in Washington. If you want them to listen to you, it's probably far more effective to use honey than vinegar.

    This also plays into the debate over the future of the GOP. To the extent the GOP casts itself as the party exclusively of "middle America" in opposition to those horrible "coastal elites," it is going to lose every time. The party must realize that it can capture BOTH groups by proving that the fundamental tenets of conservatism apply equally to everyone. Being the party of cultural resentment is not a path forward. Being the party of inclusiveness (the GOP accepts rednecks and surfers, suits and tie-dye, etc) with some great bedrock principles might be a path toward success.

    Just my $0.02.

  6. Mesa Econoguy:

    Wow, that’s some impressive disjointed logic.

    Good thing we didn’t merge with you back in ’67, or I’d write like that, too. Frightening.