Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hot Dog Legal Wars: Who's The Biggest (Wiener?) (Whiner?)

Hot dog companies suing the casings off each other. Seriously? You bet, according to a recent news article. With apologies to Bruce Buffer, the ever present UFC announcer, in one corner is Kraft Foods, home of the Oscar Mayer Wiener. Their corner team consists of a paltry four attorneys. In the opposite corner is Sara Lee and the Ball Park Frank, which has "mustered" (ooh, pardon the bun..err...pun) an entourage of five lawyers.

A reporter for The Naperville (Ill.) Sun aptly summarized this lawsuit lunacy when he noted:

In a development that proves we are entering the dog days of summer, as well apparently as the fact that large corporations have to find some way to justify all the money they spend on lawyers, two of the Chicago area’s biggest companies went to trial Monday over whether they have been making false advertising claims about their hot dogs

Really? Two huge companies seeking to spend probably millions in legal fees grilling and roasting each other over claims and counterclaims of false advertising and unfair "taste tests?" To me, that sounds like a whole lotta bun and no dog, or at least a colossal waste of judicial resources and time (no word on whether the late great U.S Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter will return from the heavens to preside over the case).

But here's what really skewers me. The Chamber Of Commerce and its militant wing, "The Institute For Legal Reform," is famous for sending out alerts and e-mail blasts about the latest "frivolous lawsuits" that supposedly cost us jobs, drag down the economy, and raise the price of consumer goods. According to The Chamber, frivolous personal injury lawsuits are as Un-American as a tofu hot dog served at a VFW picnic on the 4th of July.

But when it comes to two colossal corporations using the legal system in no holds barred, dog eat dog fashion, this is perfectly OK to The Chamber. Wouldn't millions in corporate legal fees conceiveably drive up the cost of Oscar Meyer wieners and Ball Park franks? Yet, you won't see any "e-mail alerts" or railing on this ridiculous lawsuit because corporations' full access to the legal system is "The American Way" and should be cherished. To do so would step on a few corporate toes, and The Chamber will have nothing of that.

Why the double standard? Because they don't care about your individual access to the legal system if you get maimed or screwed. In fact, they spend millions each year lobbying for laws that make it as hard as possible for you to sue corporate America even for LEGITIMATE claims and injuries.

There's two sides to the bad lawsuit coin, folks. But you'll hardly hear about legal laughers like these corporate "wiener wars" unless you dig really hard or stumble upon websites like this one.

All this talk about hot dogs is making me hungry. I think I'll go grill some Nathan's dogs (my preference anyway). I'm sure The Chamber of Commerce will recommend that I wash them down with some McDonald's hot coffee...

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