New York Post TV columnist Linda Stasi had a rough night in December 2005: She tripped over a police barricade walking home from dinner, injuring her face and wrists. It was bad, but nothing $2 million wouldn't take care of.
The Post hates lawyers, because it's getting sued a lot by its own reporters, and because, as a story last month bemoaning the state's "Suer System" put it, "New York's court system is among the most lawsuit-friendly in the country — socking citizens with millions of dollars in wacky jury awards, higher taxes and increased costs of insurance and health care...."
They oughtta know! All they need to do is ask their own television columnist, Stasi, who is suing the city for $2 million over her run-in with a broken barricade at 49th St. and Second Ave. almost four years ago. Stasi's heel caught a wooden plank from the barricade that was lying in the crosswalk and she went flying into the street, suffering a cut lip and severed tendons in her wrists. A tipster recently pointed us to the $2 million lawsuit she filed against the city over the incident, claiming mental anguish and lost wages.
The case, which hasn't been previously reported, was filed in 2006, and is due for a jury trial at some point in the next six months. To judge by the complaint, which you can read in full here, Stasi's injuries were pretty bad:
We called Stasi for details, and she insisted that her case was the real deal—no "wacky jury awards" here. "I'm not trying to get away with anything," she told Gawker. "You can ask my doctor. I looked like I'd gone 16 rounds with Mike Tyson. I went to a hand surgeon, but didn't want to risk surgery because God forbid, I'm a writer. So I had to wear braces on my arms for a year. They still swell up sometimes."
We don't doubt that Stasi took a hard fall and was hurt. But whatever happened to her wrists, it wasn't so bad that she couldn't watch TV and write about it anymore. Her fall happened on December 18, 2005, and she had bylines in the Post on December 22, December 24, December 25, December 30—you get the idea. In the month after the fall that, according to her sworn complaint, left Stasi "severely injured and damaged, rendered sick, sore, lame and disabled," she wrote 14 stories.
"I wasn't disabled," Stasi told Gawker (!). "I didn't ask for disability. I worked from home. If you work at a newspaper, you can't just stop writing—someone else will come in to fill your seat." Well, what about those lost earnings she's suing for? "I lost about a month of the show I do for New York 1 until my face healed," she said, "and I had to stop writing my book for a couple months." Because after all that writing she did during the day for the Post, her wrists just couldn't take it any more at night.
When we expressed skepticism that Stasi's injuries and the loss of a month's worth of freelance income from New York 1 were worth $2 million, she laughed at the number. "As far as I know, there was never any figure attached to the suit. I'd be very, very happy to sue for $2 million. I'd go out and buy the whole city a Christmas present." Here is the relevant entry on the case's notice of issue, which indicates that a jury trial has been set and that Stasi is indeed seeking "$2,000,000." Get ready for your Christmas presents, New York.
Surprised by the number, Stasi sent us to her lawyer, Lawrence Wertheimer, who explained that $2 million was an arbitrary figure. "Those are pro forma numbers," he says. "Certainly, she's not looking for $2 million, and she's certainly not going to get $2 million. You basically get whatever the jury decides, and you have to enter a number, so what you do is, you go high." Again, don't worry about any "wacky jury awards" here. Wertheimer is decidedly Zen about the whole case. "It is what it is," he says. "If a jury gives her money, great. If it doesn't, then that's why we have a jury system." Might as well try it and see what happens, right?
If our skepticism as to the merits of Stasi's legal gambit strikes you as heartless, we plead guilty. But we learned from a master! Here's Stasi's take on a sexual harrassment lawsuit filed last year by four waitresses against the owners of Times Square's Hawaiian Tropic Zone restaurant:
[S]omehow, being harassed and groped at a restaurant billed as the "Hottest Place on Earth" came as a giant surprise to four employees who filed a sexual-misconduct suit against the restaurant for 600-million big ones on Wednesday. That's a lot of suntan lotion!
I'm sorry, but if you apply for a job in a bar that doesn't require a shirt, you'd have to be brain-dead not to figure out that slobbering men would be as plentiful as draught beer. And apparently they were, according to the lawsuit.
Another alleged victim said she wants revenge against the Riese Organization, which owns the joint.
"I want to see the entire organization completely closed."
Six-hundred million could about do it.
Brain-dead waitresses dare to protest being groped by customers? They were asking for it. Brain-dead reporter doesn't watch where she's walking? Two million could about do it.