Victim of Terrorism? Sue Your County and Get Rich!

Posted on January 18, 2016


A widow’s lawsuit seeking $58 million from San Bernardino County for her husband’s death in a terrorist attack is unreasonable, cynical, and greedy.


If one can believe the headlines, San Bernardino County has a lot to answer for. Correctional officers torturing prisoners. Improper strip searches of inmates. Sexual misconduct with prisoners. The sometimes fatal use of Tasers by the police. Failure to prevent abuse and deaths of children in the county’s foster-care system.

But should the county answer for the actions of the husband-and-wife terrorists who mowed down their co-workers at an office gathering? The widow of one of the victims thinks so, to the tune of a whopping $58 million in claims against the county.

Why? Is it because one of the shooters was a county employee? Is it because the victims were county employees? Because it happened in a county office?   Because it happened in the county?

I’m not getting it. So the Washington Post helpfully explains:

“Claimants are, and will continue to be, deprived of the love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support, guidance, training and financial contributions of their husband and father,” reads the claim. “Claimants allege that the decedent’s death was preventable and caused by the negligent and careless actions of respondents.”

Ummm… I’m still not getting it. Not only do I not understand how the county is responsible for the actions of a couple of murderers, I do not understand where the hell this widow comes up with the total figure of $58 million.

She wants $3 million in lost wages. Wow, really? I need to move to San Bernardino and get a job in the county office! I have been pretty well paid in my time, and I highly doubt that all of my wages, benefits, retirement, Social Security, and finding loose change on the ground will ever come close to a lifetime grand total of $3 million!

She wants $10 million in general damages for each of her three minor children, and another $25 million in general damages (for herself, I guess?), for a total of $55 million in “damages.” Really? What tangible damages, exactly? Is $55 million going to buy that family “love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support, guidance, training and financial contributions?” No. Well, maybe the financial contributions part. Come on.

If I sound unsympathetic, it’s because I lost a parent when I was 6. Nobody gave me or my brother $10 million. No one gave my widowed Dad $25 million. It kind of didn’t occur to anyone to ask. Lots of people lose parents; pretty much everyone loses loved ones at some point in our lives, and we lose their paychecks, too. If you are lucky, you get some kind of insurance payout, but that’s about it. We were traumatized, our Dad was traumatized, and somehow we got through it. That’s what people do.

By now you have guessed that Lila is not a fan of getting rich off our misfortunes. I consider that blood money, and greedy and cynical as hell. Check out our previous article on the lawsuits and payouts for the Massey coal mine disaster. That disaster absolutely was due to negligence, and Massey paid out $3 million per victim.  But some families were unsatisfied, and pursued – and presumably got – millions more in settlements. And you know what? They still weren’t happy. You know why? Because other than salary and benefit compensation, you can’t put a price tag on a human being. You can’t put a price tag on lost love, lost experiences together, lost time.

God forbid, but when you lose a loved one, no amount of money is going to make you feel right about it.   If it does… if some huge magical number will do it for you… then you didn’t love that person all that much, anyway.