The Litigious Society 

School custodian Anthony Gower-Smith, 73, was awarded the equivalent of about $75,000 in June in London's High Court after suing Britain's Hampshire County government when he hurt himself falling off a 6-foot stepladder. Gower-Smith claimed that he had not been properly "trained" on how to use it, despite his long-time experience with such ladders, and despite his signed acknowledgment that he had indeed received training, and despite his having blamed himself just after he fell. (He disavowed the self-blame by saying that, at the time, he was woozy and didn't remember what he said.) 

Shannon Hyman, now 24, filed a lawsuit in July against the Green Iguana Bar & Grill in St. Petersburg, Fla., for medical bills and lost wages when she was badly burned four years ago drinking a "flaming shot" of Bacardi 151-proof rum (which normally is consumed without incident, but Hyman had spit out the drink, spreading flames to her head and upper torso). Hyman told the Tampa Tribune: "I'm suing because I should not have been let in (because she was under 21 at the time). If I weren't let in, none of the events would have happened."

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