Like most people, I spend much of my time trying to determine whom I should blame for all my various problems. It can be tough, since there are so many options to choose from, such as the government, Wall Street and/or Mel Gibson. All are tempting, but I’ve decided to pick Google.
I’d like to say that’s an original idea, but I have to give credit to Lauren Rosenberg of Park City, Utah. She’s the woman who sued Google after Google’s walking directions advised her to walk on a highway with no sidewalks, and she was promptly run over. On the plus side, that happened before Google got the chance to tell her to jump off a bridge, just like her mother always warned her it would.
Yes, you might assume a thinking, breathing human being would realize the directions were problematic when she got to the highway and the only sign of non-automotive life was a flattened hedgehog. But clearly you are forgetting that we live in a country where strollers carry a warning label that reads (really) “remove child before folding.” And actually, the Google directions do carry a warning, but apparently Rosenberg couldn’t read it on her Blackberry, possibly because she was texting at the time. (“On a hiway, WTF? Agh!” etc.)
So until Google figures out some more appropriate warnings (“CAUTION: You are going to get run over”) I’m having my attorney file a series of lawsuits aimed at seeking restitution for the hardships I’ve suffered, much like Lauren Rosenberg, because of the company’s negligence. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1) Chianca v. Google Maps. “My client alleges that checking the mileage between each turn forced him to do math while driving, which studies have shown to be dangerously distracting. Also, he had trouble reading the directions because he had spilled his latte on them, causing the ink to run. He is suing for the funds to replace his neighbor’s mailbox, which he ran over, and also to replace his latte.”
2) Chianca v. Google Image Search. “My client alleges that while doing research into the 1980s pop group Kajagoogoo, he accidentally searched for images of Lady Gaga, causing severe emotional distress and a disturbing compulsion to wear soda cans in his hair. He also alleges that the images of Kajagoogoo were only marginally less harrowing. He is suing for $3 million to have his memory erased.”
3) Chianca v. Google Videos. “My client alleges that in searching for video footage of former NFL tackle Fred Smerlas, Google Videos turned up clips of manic, squirrel-voiced YouTube icon Fred Figglehorn, resulting in hearing loss and fear of tousled hair. Even though my client searched only for ‘Fred,’ he alleges that Google should have known he was searching for Fred Smerlas because, come on, it’s Smerlas. He is suing for $5 million and an authentic 1989 Buffalo Bills jersey.”
4) Chianca v. Google Blog Search. “My client alleges that a Google blog search for ‘Barack Obama’ turned up more than 400,000 blogs comparing Obama to Hitler, Stalin, Osama Bin Laden and pre-socialist radical Gerrard Winstanley. When my client brought up these views at a cocktail party among his liberal friends, they shunned him and burned his ascot with their patchouli incense. He is suing for $1 million for emotional distress, and a new ascot.”
5) Chianca v. Google Products. “My client alleges that Google Products exposed him to merchandise well beyond his ability to afford, resulting in extreme and unanticipated debt. He is suing for funds to pay for the items purchased, including a 72-inch HDTV ($1,499), a Brunswick pool table ($2,999) and a Jura-Capresso Impressa Z6 Automatic Coffee and Latte Maker ($3,229). Especially that last one.”
That’s it so far, but I’m sure I can come up with a few others — and I figure if I can follow Rosenberg’s lead and get these into court fast enough, I can collect before Google gets its act together in the disclaimer department. Otherwise I might have to find someone else to sue.
I’m thinking Mel Gibson is probably my best bet.
This column appeared originally in North Shore Sunday. Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/pchianca. To receive At Large by e-mail, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”