Diary of a Russian Wife


The Judgment Day

We’ve spent the whole day in the Colorado Springs small claims court today. What an experience. What have I done wrong, you ask? Nothing. I have never met the plaintiff before, never talked to her, and never entered into any kind of business with her. She decided to bring me to the court just because the business which I used to own happened to have a similar trade name with the company which she has been dealing with. So, she chose to bring to the court both entities: her vendor which she was not happy with, and me, a complete stranger. She claimed that she "doesn't know which company she was dealing with". Well, the companies are even located in two different cities - duh! And they say Russia is the country of arbitrariness!

I’ve won the case and gained some experience, but lost a day and $25 which I had to pay to file a response. Not much, but believe me, I could find a better use for $25 and my time.

I am not going to criticize the system, but it’s admitted by many people that quantity of filed lawsuits in America is enormous. I was trying to find some statistics, but could not find. Just found that 2/3 of all lawyers practice in the US, while 1/3 – in all other countries. That’s why America is called “the country of lawyers”.

The system of filing a lawsuit is very simple in the US. On one hand, it is good. On another hand, the simplicity of legal proceedings and the huge army of lawyers are changing human nature. Instead of talking things out and trying to find a compromise, people find it easier to bring their disagreements into the court.

In Russian there is a good word for this kind of people - “sutyaga”. “Sutyaga” means a foolish, unfair plaintiff who is fond of suing other people. The closest translation that I can think of is “litigious”, but I am not sure this translation reflects contempt and scorn that Russian people put into the word “sutyaga”. If you know a better translation – please let me know.

When I read or hear about some lawsuits in the news – many of them seem to me ridiculous:

A woman who admits that she is a gambling addict asked a casino to put her on the “not admitted” list. After that, she has changed her appearance, snuck in, and now she is suing the casino for letting her in.

A California banker sued his wife for simulating an orgasm and won $242,000!

People sue McDonalds because they spilled hot coffee on themselves. How dumb is that?

The bigger a restaurant or a store chain is, the more vulnerable it is for lawsuits. By its own count, Wal-Mart is sued around 5,000 times a year — or nearly once every two hours, every day of the year.

Santa's Lawsuit Joke

Get the American Point of View


  • I agree that America is too litigious. It is unfortunate that you had such a legal experience, but in the end it did not turn out too badly for you and like you said you learned something. It is also interesting to hear your opinion on the topic as a foreigner. In general, the small claims system is very good in most cases when you have been wronged for an amount of money that makes it unprofitable to hire an attorney.

    One point though that I must make is on the McDonald's Coffee, which is everyone's favorite bad example. McDonald's was keeping the coffee a few degrees below boiling because the coffee would last longer which saved money. They knew that customers were receiving burns instead of turning down the temperature, an accountant determined that it was cheaper to pay for the burn victims medical bills than turn down the temperature a few degrees and throw out more coffee. The award given was McDonald's world-wide coffee sales for two days. The fact that the woman who brought the suit gets the punitive damages and it is not paid to the government as a fine is a completely different issue that I still do not understand. -Russophile

    By Blogger Brett, at 10:57 PM  

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