We here at the Angry Man Blog dispense the dubious honor of DotW to someone who’s been especially egregious in the recent past. In fact, it’s been awarded only once, to Alec Baldwin for a drunken phone call to his daughter, and that was only implicit at the time, so consider Alec Baldwin a retroactive award. (Given its rarity, the title of “Douche of the Week” is a bit of a misnomer and the title itself is a bit controversial. Maybe “Occasionally Awarded Prize Piece of Work Prize” would be better. Thoughts?)

In any event, one newsworthy item made us think it was worth dusting off the trophy. Failed Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork is our winner. For those of us old enough to remember, the infamous Bork nomination was big news exactly twenty years ago. In short, he was nominated to the Supreme Court and failed to make it through the Senate after forcing a vote. In the end, the much less controversial Justice Anthony Kennedy ended up being confirmed. Bork went on to write various books, including Slouching Toward Gomorrah. Google for “the Bork nomination” or his book if you really care.

One of Bork’s many positions—he had a lot of them, having been a prolific law professor and an appeals court judge before his nomination—was in staunch opposition to torts, aka lawsuits. It’s very clear there are a lot of frivolous lawsuits junking up the legal system, though probably fewer than many people claim since the vast majority of cases do settle. Acknowledging the fact that torts are a reasonable thing to debate and that ambulance chasers are real jackasses who cost us a lot of money as a society, there are good reasons for personal injury suits. For instance, I was in a serious accident several years ago and have, over the years, gained a deep understanding of what “pain and suffering” from someone else’s negligence means up close and personal. I ended up getting essentially nothing out of it because I didn’t go to court due to the circumstances of the case.

But let’s hang loose on our opinion(s) about torts because this isn’t about us, it’s about the DotW. How did Bork earn his prize? By filing a slip and fall lawsuit in South Manhattan Superior Court of extraordinary magnitude after falling on his keister getting up on the dais to give a speech to the Yale Club. He ended up developing a hematoma (nasty, persistent bruise), had to have surgery, and a long convalescence. As someone who’s been in an accident, I can sympathize with someone who got injured but there are… issues with Judge Bork’s suit. While Yale Club was clearly sloppy in not providing stairs and a rail, Bork’s actions in the case were picture-perfect for the notion of accepted risk. It’s not as if the lack of stairs and a rail were hidden from view. Yale Club didn’t have a poorly maintained set of stairs with loose treads that were advertised to be something they weren’t. No, they didn’t have any stairs at all. As an elderly man, Bork could and should have reasonably requested assistance, but evidently decided not to bother. In fact, Bork has made this quite rational point in his critique of personal injury lawsuits: If there is a clear and obvious danger which you nevertheless choose to accept and end up getting hurt, guess whose problem it is?

The offense for which Bork has earned his DotW is the fact that he’s suing for One Million Dollars (plus punitive damages and costs) in exactly the kind of slip and fall case he derided in writing many times. It seems that restricting redress to the courts is fine for law journals or other people, but when the time came to put his money where his VERY BIG lawyer mouth is, he sues in exactly the fashion he has criticized quite eloquently in the past. Congratulations, Judge Robert Bork, for crass hypocrisy above and beyond the call of duty, you… are… Douche… of… the… WEEK!

Mildly Piqued Academician

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