How Litigious Are We? Kid Sues Friend Over Lost iPod

from the welcome-to-America dept

People often point out just how litigious American society has become, with people trying to sue just about anyone over anything that upsets them. Apparently, this is beginning to filter down to children as well. A 14-year-old girl has decided to sue her friend, after the friend screwed up in returning the iPod she had borrowed. Rather than handing the iPod back to Shannon Derrik, Stephanie Eick apparently placed the iPod on her friend’s school desk, where some other thief in their class pocketed the device. Rather than working it out between themselves (or hunting down the thief), Shannon went to court. As you might expect when two teens go to court, it certainly sounds like much of this is being driven by the parents, while most everyone else wonders why the two families couldn’t figure out a more reasonable way to settle the dispute. Among the points of disagreement are that Stephanie’s parents want to buy a refurbished iPod, while the lost iPod was still pretty new. Also, Shannon had about $45 worth of iTunes songs on the iPod, which she claims she can no longer listen to. Instead (gasp!) she’s forced to listen to the radio. Correct me if I’m wrong, but songs you buy on iTunes should also be available on your computer — but perhaps that’s nitpicking. As for the two girls, they are no longer friends, but: “If I had to work with her for a project, I think I could do it,” Stephanie said. “I know we’re probably not going to be good friends again, but I don’t hate her or anything.”

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Comments on “How Litigious Are We? Kid Sues Friend Over Lost iPod”

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RPH says:

Re: and now the real story...

First off, for all of you out there asking why the iPod was in school in the first place, I’ll tell you. It was the last day of 8th grade and they were allowed to have them. There was no teaching going on, just kids waiting for their graduation ceremony.

For those of you that say it is the plaintiffs fault for bringing it to school in the first place, I ask “do you blame the rape victim for dressing too seductively?”

Stephan Eick’s daughter borrowed an iPod and didn’t return it to the owner. While she has possession of borrowed property she is expected to exercise due care of that property. Leaving it on a desk and walking away from it when the owner of the item is out of the room is not due care and does not constitute a return of the borrowed item.

Their daughter lost her first iPod and the father said she learned her lesson. Then she lost Shannon’s iPod and he said she learned a lesson. He then buys her another more expensive iPod. What lesson has she learned? That she can be completely irresponsible and daddy will bail her out? Instead of paying the $200 originally asked (they hung up on us) it went to court. We never thought it would have to go this far, but we had no other recourse. Shannon saved for 6 months to get enough money for the iPod through babysitting and allowances. Shannon doesn’t have hundreds of dollars to replace.

Eick said he doesn’t know what the big deal is and that we should just buy Shannon a new one because they are not that expensive. Meanwhile we are teaching Shannon to do what’s right while he is paying out what is probably hundreds of dollars to an attorney to avoid having her daughter take any responsibility.

This is a question of responsibility. If the liable party won’t accept responsibility what recourse is there? No one ever wants things to end up in court, but what recourse is there? The lesson here is not to sue people for every little thing. It is to take responsibility. Hopefully Shannon will win this case and borrowers of other people’s property everywhere will learn to take care of such barrowed items.

ghostlancer says:

What kind of example r the parents setting for the kids?! How pathetic can u be to teach ur kids to sue?! Now what? When the girls get older their gonna think that suing is the key to getting whatever they want!! But hey, this is America, and thats the american way! Instead of earning the american dream, we sue to live that dream!!! Man must be nice, sleeping at night with a smile on ur face cuz u sued ur friend or family member! “Hey i want a new pool, let me sue my friend cuz he borrowed my ipod for an extra day and that emotional affected my life and need to be componsated for it”

Suing McSuemeister says:

Re: typical

Yes, you can expect a court-summons for the initial hearings in about a week…

God, I agree with the prevailing opinion here. I am curious, is it actually possible for one MINOR to sue another MINOR? Wouldn’t the entire process need to be dealt with through the parents, and in this case, shouldn’t the parents have been smart enough to kill the idea? He touched on that idea on the article, but my basic quandry is over whether the US legal system actually has the protocol for one Minor to sue another.

Marie says:

Re: Litigious Society

What? No lawyers win here because there aren’t any in small claims court. I would sue these parents as well since it sounds like they were teaching the kid who “borrowed” the Ipod, that she doesn’t have to be a responsible person! Bottom line, they didn’t step up and replace what their daughter lost, they should be sued if that is what it will take to make them pay for it. And that is what the tragedy is in society today, irresponsibility!

rosematoes says:

Re: Re: Litigious Society

Our family has recently suffered a similar situation.

I would have to say that before this incident I would have agreed that it was ridiculous to sue over an ipod.

However, now that the shoe is on the other foot…we feel differently.

My son allowed a friend to listen to his ipod at a community xmas party. When her ride came to pick her up he asked for his ipod back and she ran out the door with it saying she would return it after xmas break and she jumped in the car and left.

The family was contacted numerous times in an attempt to retrieve the ipod. Each time we were told the girl wasn’t home or the ipod was at her fathers.

After xmas break my son daily asked the girl for the ipod back and she would evade him or tell him she didn’t have it.

The family made no attempt at all to contact us or return the ipod that didn’t belong to them.

Finally, we spoke with the mother who confessed that the family dog chewed up the ipod. They agreed to make restitution, but only agreed to pay $100 for an ipod that cost $200, plus a $30 leather case.

We asked for the damaged ipod to be returned to see if we could possibly save them money by buying parts for it. This situation was dragged out for 2 months and we were told that the damaged ipod was thrown away.

This all took place on December 21st…here we are at February 6th and still have not been reimbursed not one cent.

To make matters worse…. we didn’t even receive an “I’m Sorry” from the girl or the parents.

So…..that being said…..what would you do???

Would you go to small claims court and make them be responsible???

How would you feel, even as an adult, if a friend was taking pictures with your digital camera at your house and walked out the door saying “Hey, I’m gonna borrow your camera and I’ll give it back later.” Then every attempt you made to retrieve it was to no avail.

What would you do?

Anonymous Howard says:

Not a private school

As luck would have it, this all happened at the middle school my son attends. Its not a private school at all, but a standard public middle school.

I’m pretty shocked about it too. It seems to be way beyond sensible by now. I’d think all the press coverage this has gotten would have embarrassed both parties into some sort of agreement by now.

Anonymous Coward says:

It actually sounds like they have a legitimate reason to sue. If I loaned a $500 iPod to someone and they lost it and wanted to replace it with a refurbished model or one they bought off of eBay I’d refuse too. We’re not talking about someone losing a comb or a watch. Remember the guy who tracked down the people who found his cell phone and refused to get it back?

MrPaladin says:

I wonder if I can still sue...

When I was in school a I allowed a friend of mine to play my gameboy on school property after classes…

While playing I saw that the person liked to really move their arms around while playing, so I suggested that we go inside instead of over the concrete where they were playing, because the person was in the middle of a game the plea got ignored to a degree, and I’d never dropped it so I let it go, but sure as heck the gameboy got droped and a crack was put ion the screen rendering half the screen useless (and subsequently the GB needed replacing)

I wonder if I could still sue the people who layed the concrete…

nunya_bidness says:

Stupid, Be otch

She waited untill her “friend” went to the bathroom, then

“returned” her ipod? How effin stupid is that. She is just lying, to cover her dumb ass for breaking, losing,selling, or trying to keep the ipod. No real friend would behave in that manner. I blame Mtv for creating phoney images of retarded teenagers, that real kids emulate. Ipods do not belong in school anyway. Both of them should get thier ass kicked for being idiots, and their parents should be ashamed of themselves, for encouraging them. Dee dee dee!

Big Huge Dave says:

I'm suing techdirt

For writing this article.

And if any of you use my name “Big Huge Dave” in any way whatsoever I’m suing you, too!

And if you say anything mean to me about this post I’m suing you!

And I’m suing my cat because she puked up a hairball this morning and I had to clean it up and now I’m emotionally distraught at work and can’t eat because I’m, like, totally grossed out!

Arun says:

What is wrong with the litigation?


I some one takes your car and looses it how would you react, especially if that person just says I left it outside your house? The same deal budddy.For a kid an ipod is his or her own universe and I would not even lend my ipod to anyone. I think the other kid must paback with a new ipod and she thinks she is not responsible let the law of the land decide it.

“If a person grazes a field or a vineyard, and lets his livestock loose so that it grazes in another person’s field, he must make restitution with the best of his field and the best of his vineyard.” Exodus 22:4

derfaust says:

Re: What is wrong with the litigation?

you missed the piont…..and you shouldnt really quote the bible….the bible was written by some white Roman guys about some middle eastern guys…..and the white roman guys turned the middele eastern guys into white guys… see where this gets screwy…….and parts were left out….can you say “censored”?…….the thing that gets me the most is people actually buy it…..

now the ipod thing…..the litigation is stupid….it is a waste of time…..our courts have much more to take care of… actually prosecuting that bitch that drowned her children in the bathtub, said god told her to do it, and was given insanity……

that is the most irresponsible thing when you wrap up a statment with a quote from the bible…..the bible is ot real…..ok….wll it is real if you want to call it a fanasty story….

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: What is wrong with the litigation?

“now the ipod thing…..the litigation is stupid….it is a waste of time…..our courts have much more to take care of… actually prosecuting that bitch that drowned her children in the bathtub, said god told her to do it, and was given insanity…… ”


You’re still missing the point. These are two different court systems. The one handling the $300 piece of property is Small Claims Court. The one handling the murder trial is a Criminal Court.

The i-Pod case is not detracting from a murder trial here. That’s like saying that the animal show on the Discovery Channel is taking away air time from the music videos on MTV (they still show music there, right?)

Now, let me deviate off-topic for a moment. Drop the bible-bashing. 1) This isn’t the place for it, and 2) Arun’s use of the Exodus quote was a proper use and in-context. Whatever your opinion is on whether the bible is fact or fiction, the purpose of the bible is to give parables… example stories on how to live a better life. Similar to Ben Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac”. The actual teachings of the bible (old and new) do illustrate a fair, peaceful, and happy lifestyle. Unfortunately, many practitioners of the faith pervert those teachings into their own version of the truth or out-of-context to prove a ridiculous point.

Now, I’m not even christian, but I at least respect when the bible is used properly, as opposed to being used as a justification for things like protesting the funerals of soldiers.

I just want to point out that when you behave as an anti-christian, as opposed to just a non-christian, you are behaving exactly as the fundamentalists that you are trying to insult. Nice.

Now, I apologize for stepping so far off-topic.

thecaptain says:

stupid yes...but I wonder

There’s not a lot of detail in the article, so its hard to know.

Yes, I’m totally against frivolous litigation.

However, I can EASILY imagine the situation going something like this:

Girl 1: I put your iPod back on your desk…not MY fault someone STOLE it!

Girl 2: How could you do that? That cost me 500 bucks! You OWE me an iPod

Girl 1: No I don’t!

Cue Parents later in the evening:

Parents of girl 2: Listen, Bob, your daughter is responsible for that gadget, it cost a shitload of cash…so…what do you wanna do here?

Parents of girl 1: My little precious angel did NOTHING wrong…screw you Ted, don’t expect ME to pay for it…that’s YOUR kid’s toys..not my problem! *CLICK*

At this point…what the hell are you gonna do? Just write off 500 bucks of hardware? I mean we’re not talking about a CD here…

To me, this is EXACTLY what small claims court is for. When its a (relatively) small amount and there’s no recourse within the law other than litigation.

C’mon people…I know the legal system has gotten ridiculous but this is a non-story. The parents (I think, its hard to tell from the story) and the minor are using the court system the way they SHOULD use it.

They aren’t suing for millions, they aren’t looking for the winfall…they just want recourse for someone’s stupidity which cost the daughter an iPod.

No One Knows says:

Re: stupid yes...but I wonder

Where I do agree, the iPod should not have been left unattended it was in a class room. Instead of screaming and blaming each other, why wasn’t the teacher involved before the kids left the class room? As I see it the only one who made out here was the thief, and the lawyers. (iPod = $299, Legal fees and court cost = $1000, loss of a friend and trust of your classmates, Priceless. For everything else there’s ……..)

Neum says:


Everyone here is overestimating the value of the iPod the most expensive iPod is only $299 (I don’t think a grade school girl would be interested in the U2 iPod). So assuming the iPod had only depreciated in value $50, it is now worth $250 plus the “value” of the music her suit is for less than $300. Most lawyers charge a rate of at least $300 per hour. Unless their parents are lawyers, they stand to lose a lot of money even if they win. There has to be an ulterior motive.

Fripadeedills says:

They're all crazy

Personally I won’t loan out my ipod. And quite honestly I’d a hesitant to borrow somebodyelses. I think that when you borrow something you need to make sure it’s gets back in at least the same condition it was loaned to you. So thing girl shouldn’t have left it on the desk. And when you loan something you need to realize that you are taking the risk of never getting it back.

So that said, the parents should have been able to work it out between themselves. Okay, so let the girl who left it on the desk work to by a refurbished ipod. The other girl doesn’t want a refurbished one? well then let her pitch in for the extra — it will make her more careful about who she loans her stuff too.

The parents should have used this as an opportunity to teach their girls how to work out “big” problems and still be good neighbors. But when parents can’t do that… well, I guess everybody ends up in court.

jedipunk (profile) says:


I agree with the few other people on here. This case is not frivolous.

Someone lost or damaged an item they were responsible for and the owner is wanting reimbursement.

If you loan a $300-$500 miter saw to someone and they return it with the motor burned out after using all day non stop and they refused to compensate your loss you would sue as well. If you loaned it to them and someone broke into their garage and stole it and they refused to compensate you would sure again.

The differences here is it is kids and it is an item that is being referred to as a toy. I don’t even see how it being at school is an issue to th e owner, she did bring it to school the person she loaned it to did.

What upsets me is how stupid the loaners parents are.

Guard says:

Did the girl actually buy $45 worth of songs or is she using that to try to make more money…

And anyways, the music does stay on iTunes. But of course, even if she bought the music, perhaps her parents forced her to delete it from the computer as soon as she bought it, out of fear of the RIAA suing them. Especially since suing is so common and all.

jmap7 says:

turn the other cheek

The value of suing your friend if she makes a mistake, or if she lies about it against the value to forgive your friend and act like a child, like a 14year old child.

Maybe is wrong what the 14 year old-lost your ipod- did. But.. should we sue her and punish her? Or should we understand that SHE IS A KID TOO, and should we do some good parenting from now on, on taking care of other people’s belongins?

If you screw this up… you are gonna be sued!!


If you screw this up, we are just kid you know?.. that’s supposed to happen..

1- Don’t let a 14 year old have a $500 bucks gadget.

2- If you do let it, do teach them about their value.

3- If you willingly lend your things, know that: shit happens.

4- If something goes wrong decide what has more value: Your friendship or your ipod.

me says:

Is that what they cost?

Is that true that an iPod actually costs about $300?!? Without any music? I feel better and better every day that I don’t own one.

Really? I mean, people really spend that kind of money for a little low fidelity box and shitty speakers? Just because they can’t be without their music for a while.

Huh. Who would have thought?

Anonymous Coward says:

my mother runs a daycare out of our house. when i was younger, i had all my toys with the “daycare” toys. those kids would destroy just about everything they touched. it got to the point where i didn’t let them play with anything of mine, for fear of it being broken. and when i did lend them something, and they broke it, mom would say the parent had to pay, but she never enforced it. so what did i do? i stopped letthing the kids use my stuff. sure it may be an old nintendo, but hell i don’t want them breaking it, so no they can’t have it. i learned the hard way. and ya know what? i don’t care if they cry. they need to learn about responsibility.

now granted a 20 dollar toy or 100 dollar video game system isn’t the “same” as an ipod, it is comproable. sure it may cost xx money at the store, but it worth over 10 times that price to the kid. and you just have to learn, that a, take care of your stuff, and b, take even better care of someone else’s stuff

Anonymous Coward says:

ipods range from 100 bucks to 400 bucks.

the 30 gb ipod video is 299, the 60 gig is 399. the ipod shuffle is llike 99 and 159 (.5 gb and 1 gb respecitly) the nano’s are like 250 for 4 gigs. i’m not sure if they still make mini’s and what not.

so the most expensive her ipod could be is 400, maybe she had some nice headphones and a remote..another 70, so it’s possible after tax and warranties, it’d be about 500 +/- but the real issues is this…why not watch the kids in the calss to see who comes in with an ipod?

a friend of mine found an ipod in the dorm showere. she knew who it belonged to, but used it for about a week before giving it back. wrong, but hey…

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Just a few points

Most of what I would say has been hit upon here, so I’ll be brief with them.

1) This is a wonderful example of teaching responsibility to the girl that loaned the i-Pod. Don’t loan out expensive things if you want to risk losing it.

2) This is a wonderful example of teaching responsibility to the girl that “lost” the i-Pod. Don’t borrow things if you can’t be responsible enough to safeguard them.

3) This is actually covered under the Liability portion of the Homeowner’s coverage owned by the parents of the girl that “lost” the i-Pod… subject to the deductible (at least $500). Hence the reason they don’t want to pay.

4) This is exactly what small-claims court is intended to handle. They’re not going to the supreme court here. It’s not really “suing”, it’s just bringing legal claims against another party.

5) The i-Pod is not a “toy”. No more so than your remote control or digital camera. It’s an electronic appliance. It’s just a really small appliance. Even if it were a toy, it’s a $300 toy, which happens to be (from what I could find the IL Statutes) the threshold to become a 4th Degree Felony theft.

6) I’d be interested to see what happens with the i-Tunes claim. According to most licensing agreements and the RIAA, the girl didn’t “own” those songs. Can she really claim a loss of them? Hmm…

While I do think that the idea of “children suing” is ridiculous, I think some of the people reporting this story (yes, techdirt, you too…) were jumping on the “kids suing” hype-wagon. This is a couple of kids whose parents are using the legal system as it was designed to be used: arbitrating a disagreement where no malicious crime was committed.

MikeT (user link) says:

This is a good use of the courts

She’s suing for repayment and court fees, not to make a killing off the girl and her family. This is precisely the sort of thing that civil courts were created for. Punitive awards that amount to court-granted lottery tickets are NOT what it was supposed to be for.

This is a good case. It’s probably the most rational lawsuit I have seen mentioned in public in a very long time.

Anonymous Coward says:

According to reports the girl who owned the iPod worked as a babysitter in order to pay for the iPod herself. It wasn’t just given to her by her parents. It must have taken a long time to earn enough money to pay for it and she’s entitled to sue for the $400.

I see this as no different as if your neighbor borrows your powertool and then returns it to your doorstep. Most reasonable people here would try and recoup their losses.

We need more people with common sense and less sensationalists jumping to conclusions here. That’s more worrisome than our society becoming litigous.

Anonymous Coward says:

well, this happened to a few friends with itunes. they said they had to reformat or whatever, (to apple that is) and asked to be able to download their songs again (remember, they have that database that checks songs, when you authorize a new computer), and apple let them.

so do you “own” the song? no. what you “own” is the right to play that song on any of your up to 5 (i think it’s 5 now) authorized computers, or on your ipod.

the girl didn’t lose her songs, just the “digital copy” of them

Call me kr@zy says:

Another way it might play out...

Why not sue the school district since they didn’t provide adequate security to prevent the theft? The deep pockets syndrome is also the American way. They could also afford to pay for the trauma the poor girl experienced when she discovered that she would have to listen to a radio and the therapy she will no doubt go through when the school disciplines her for not following its no electronics policy.

What ever happened to going home, saying you lost something valuable and being taken to the woodshed?

Faz says:

given the value of teh ipod and considering it is not a toy, suing can be seen.

although what is not clear and i would have liek to seen is….

A) kid getting punshied for being irresponsile (both kids as mentioned in earlier comments)

B) parents trying to resolve this and actually feeling bad ” i am sorry my kid was irresponsible.” which did not happen

C) so i say sue away.. but losing a friend over a gadget the best thing… wait they are still proj buddies

trcmag says:

Makes me want to cry

It saddens me that we are living in a society that jumps to sue. The one girl should have been responsible in giving the iPod directly back to her friend and not putting it somewhere that anyone could take it, but her friend should never have loaned out such an expensive toy. And at the end of the day, it’s a toy. Granted $250 or $500, it’s still pricey for a couple of girls to be sharing. They are both at fault. I remember the days when you were punished for wrongdoings, worked to pay for the broken window, not everyone made the team and there was a first place little league and they were the only ones who got trophies.

EW says:

Many schools don’t allow this type of gadget on school property for this very reason. I wonder if this school will change its policy?

Regardless, my kneejerk reaction was that this suit is insane, but there is some reason in it. I like the example of returning your neighbor’s powertool to his porch. An even closer illustration might be leaving your friend’s bike on the street in front of his house. It would be extremely easy to steal, as I suppose the iPod was in this case.

However, the defendant girl’s actions have an element of reasonableness to them as well. She borrowed the iPod, the owner went to the bathroom, leaving her purse on the desk, the bell rang, and the borrower placed the ipod next to the purse. Leaving your purse unattended implies a certain amount of trust that it won’t be stolen out of the classroom. The borrowing friend, in her haste, may have thought it was the most reasonable place to leave the iPod as the other girl had already left one slightly valuable item on the desk. You might be more inclined to return a borrowed power tool to a porch if the owner had a habit of leaving things on his porch anyway.

I’m not about to take the time to look up Illinois law on conversion, trespass to chattels, and bailment, so I’ll just propose that reasonable people might split the costs of replacement, shake hands, and be done with it. We are rights-centered to the point of absurdity.

James says:


…that “(gasp!)” should have been placed at the end of the sentence just before the word, “radio”–it would have added to the dreamatic effect of what the girl has to do now.

The girls should have just gone after the thief. Then, if there was any damage to the ipod, the suing girl should go after the thief and the friend that borrowed the ipod.

Why are kids taking ipods to school anyway? Aren’t they there to learn? At leas that’s what happened when I went.

Anonymous Coward says:

heres a story a friend of mine was killed in a car accident. he was a passander, and his friend, driving, swerved to miss a horse on the road, and ended up hitting another one. the horse crushed the side of teh car, and my friend had blunt force trama to his head, killing him. it wasn’t the drivers fault, as it turned out the horse owner was on vacation, and his hand didn’t take care of the horses. he was at a bar drinking. the horses got out, and bam. my friend’s dead. who does the insurance go after? you guessed it…THE DRIVER. wow…they claimed he had ultimate responsibility of all passengers…so…the borrower….should be held responsable…

next, why bring ipods to school? because you don’t teleport to and from school. walking/ riding a bus/ driving a car, taking your bike…all take time. i for one hated the bus, and would have killed to have something to distract my mind. (couldn’t read or do work on a bus. too much movement) music was my friend. headphones and i was golden.

yeah, you’re in school to learn, but when school’s not in session…you’d be able to listen to music and whatnot.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: Re: The Driver vs The Horse

The example of the driver swerving to avoid the horse is a matter of Provable Negligence versus Common Sense.

I’ve talked about negligence before, but since it’s part of my profession, I don’t mind educating about it.

Here’s the deal. For someone to be considered negligent, four things must be met.

1) There has to be a “reasonable” and “prudent” duty to perform (to do or not do something)

2) There has to be a breach of that duty (failing to do or failing to not do something)

3) There has to be observable and quantifiable damages

4) There has to be proximate cause (an unbroken chain of events linking the failed duty to the damages caused).

Now, anyone with one iota of common sense would say that the farm hand failed in his duties to secure the horse. Common sense would tell you that it’s highly likely that the failure to lock the horse up is what caused the accident.

Unfortunately, it’s not about common sense. So, let’s put the actions of the two parties through our little 4-step machine.

Farm Hand:

1) Duty to perform: make sure the animals under his care do not become a hazard for other citizens. This still resides in the realm of “reasonable” and “prudent”, so the hand isn’t responsible for taking “extraordinary” measures to do this.

2) Breach of Duty: obvious. He wasn’t watching the horse.

3) Observable, quantifiable damages: Very obvious. A person died. Not to mention damage to the car.

4) Proximate Cause: here’s where it would be difficult to prove negligence. There’s very little evidence that says that a person died directly as a result of the farm hand’s failure to lock the horse up. There are a million other possibilities on how the horse could have/would have gotten out. There are also a million other things that horse may or may not have done once it was out. Remember, when the law is applied to a death, reasonable doubt always has to be dispelled. It’s pretty easy to see that there’s a reasonable doubt that the horse killed someone as a result of the farm hand’s failure to lock it up.

The Driver:

1) Duty to perform: operate the motor vehicle in a safe capacity. This, of course, still falls under the words “reasonable” and “prudent”. You don’t have to be on the lookout for falling meteors while you’re driving. It’s pretty reasonable that you shouldn’t have to dodge those with any frequency. But, it could be argued that when driving near farms, one should drive with increased alertness and perhaps reduced speed. It’s reasonable to assume that animals may be loose.

2) Failure to act: This is where it would be difficult to prove the driver failed to do or to not do something. The prosecution would have to show that the actions taken by the driver were not adequate when compared to a “reasonable and prudent person”. Again, it’s up to the judge/jury to decide if he should have driven with more care past the farms, then failed to do so.

3) Damages: same as above.

4) Proximate cause: directly due to the driver’s actions, the passenger died. Pretty cut and dried there.

You could argue that the passenger died as the result of the driver’s inability to control his vehicle after a sudden swerve, and that falls outside of his “reasonable and prudent” duties. You don’t have to be a professional stunt driver to drive safely. I’m sure his defense tried this or something similar. It sounds like the prosecution went down the path of least resistance. It’s easier to show the driver failed to act that it is to show proximate cause of the ranch hand.

Now… I know people are going to disagree with my view on this. That’s fine. All I ask is that when you argue against it, make sure you’re not arguing from the viewpoint of common sense. CS does not apply in the law. Saying it is “common sense that the horse got out and a person died” is making assumptions, and you cannot do that in a case as serious as one that involves the death of a person.

Now… you can apply the same 4-step proof to the actions of the two girls to find out which one (if either… there’s doesn’t always have to be someone at-fault here. They call them “accidents” for a reason) was negligent. If the friend is negligent, then it is up to her (or her parents, since she’s a minor) to indemnify the injured party.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most expensive ipod??

Why is everyone assuming this child has a top of the line iPOD, its much more likely that she had an iPod Shuffle which start at $79.00 and are still iPODS. iPod Nanos also are relatively cheap and start around $130.00 so just because she is suing for 475.00 doesn’t mean that the iPOD cost anywhere near that much.

SailorAlphaCentauri says:

According to the article...

This is what the 475 is for:

At that hearing, Stephanie will be given the option of paying the $475 McCarthy is requesting to cover the cost of the iPod, court fees, an expensive carrying case and $50 in iTunes, or going to trial..

First of all, nobody owes anyone an expensive carrying case. The court costs are probably half of the amount being asked, and the iTunes music is STILL on the computer, so there is no need to have to go back to the site to buy the items again (unless the girl was dumb enough to erase all of the songs once they were uploaded). The case was already dismissed once, so I’m surprised that the parents are going this route.

SailorAlphaCentauri says:

For what it's worth

I think this should’ve been handled by the parents before taking it to court. I think there should be some cupability on the part of the girl who failed to give it back properly, but I don’t think she should have to pay for more than half of the cost. This is the way it would’ve been handled when I was in school, because they didn’t care whose fault it was…everyone is responsible in some way. What the girls should’ve done was tell the teacher the moment it was realized that the iPod was gone, so that there could’ve been a chance to recover the item before everyone left for the summer. Since that is no longer an option, a reasonable compromise needs to be reached. Demanding a new case and the music that was on the machine is a bit absurd (moreso about the case than the music)…but taking it to court (whether they had a right to or not) is an extreme solution that should’ve been last resort.

I’m more bothered that the girl who lost her iPod is less amped about the lawsuit than her parents. That should be a tell-tale sign that the lawsuit was not the best route to take, especially since it was the girl’s money and not the parents’ money.

What this is is a lesson in why you shouldn’t take expensive things to school. What would’ve happened if the girl had left the iPod on her desk herself? She’d have no one to blame but herself and would just be without the machine. It’s convienent to have someone else to blame when you lended the item to them and it got lost on its return…so I’m not in favor of the girl getting all of the money requested in the suit.

The person who last had it should have to pay for half the cost of a new iPod and the music (if the plantiff can prove that she no longer has the music available on her computer [which is more like taking advantage of her mother’s ignorance of how iTunes works to get an extra $50 than anything else]), and the other girl has to learn the lesson that life isn’t fair and to be responsible for your own items.

Jennifer says:

This is Ridiculous

While I understand the frustration caused by losing your beloved iPod, this is still ridiculous. It’s frustrating to lose an iPod, it’s an expensive little device that has brought me much joy and entertainement. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that I have it when I’m on the subway and there are people shouting out across the seats to each other or the inevitable kid screaming while their parent looks on helplessly unable to control their offspring. But still. It doesn’t even make sense from a financial point of view. How much is it costing each family to go to court: time off from work (this is money), and fees paid to a lawyer. I’m sure there are other fees I’m not even thinking of.

Coming through says:


doesn’t this all sue thing cost more money than just not bringing the iPod to school?

I have to say… that girl was extremly dumb, why would she give a “precious” thing to a friend, that can be easily lost..? and the other girl…. “she left it on the desk” now really… if you see an iPod just random on a desk, wouldn’t u take it?

Crazy Foolz says:


I can understand a parent’s frustration with the matter of their kids friend losing an iPod or other semi-expensive electronic deivce, however you have to understand every angle of the situation and both sides of the story. I loaned a minidisc player to a friend in high school and he got arrested and had it confiscated, and I never did get it back. This is one of those times when you have to learn to cut your losses, ensure that a lesson was learned, and point out the obvious errors here so it doesn’t happen again…

1. Why would you loan a friend an ipod rather than going to their house and uploading the music? (this day in age almost every household has at least one computer in America)

2. If she had $45 worth of music (which is roughly 45 songs as most downloads through iTunes are 99 cents) on her iPod, she should be able to listen to it through her iTunes software that is the only software used to place music on the iPod itself. If she used another software program such as limewire, kazaa, etc. that is stolen music essentially and she should be sued by the record labels and musicians who songs she “can no longer listen to.”

3. Friendships will come and go, and it will usually take a big incident for someone to find out where their friends stand with them. Why this was in the story or a matter of interest is odd, because after all, they are in middle school, not many people stay friends through middle school, school, college, marriage, careers, etc.

4. It’s not so much a matter of teaching kids at a young age to sue, as this can be seen on at least every other tv channel at one point in the day or another. It’s more so the fact that the parents would resort to suing over a maximum $300 electronic device. (we aren’t going to count the songs here because there needs to be evidence they were purchased, and if there is evidence they were purchased there would be a way for the child to continue to listen to them without the iPod or without having to re-download them since they would be on their computer)
Most small claims courts require the value to be a minimum of $500 and not to exceed $5000, to ensure the ability to sue another person over stupidity on both parties is manageable and not something that is played every time something doesn’t go there way or affects a possession of theirs.

And on those notes, people need to be smarter with their possessions knowing that an iPod will continue to be a big item that a lot of people will want but don’t have until the price drops or until a new mass media storage device becomes available with better features.

Joe Random says:

So did the probable-iPod-thief lose? I need closure!

rosematoes, you should take them to court – they are trying to shaft you (How is it someone thinks they can offer half of the value of something they destroyed? #@$% them!), and they really, really need to have a judge tell them what sorry sacks of $#^% they are.

The best part is that you can then make sure the court’s judgment ends up on their credit reports and dings their FICO score for years!

macy says:

hey if someone lost my ipod i’d sue as well. to a teen an ipod is like a baby and it’s hard to imagine life without it. dont blame the parents because its probably the kids that egged it on. but this shannon chick should have either found the theif or just took the refurbished one because having one that doesnt look “cool” and works is better than not having one at all.

anonymous says:


how ironic, this same situation was just presented to me last evening and my child was the one that was irresponsible and it seems that the ipod was stolen out of his bookbag so i was wonderind what the right thing to do is, we assume another student(we know who) stole the ipod but this happened two months ago, im just now hering about it and grandma wants me to but a new ipod
what is the right thing to do

Amber says:

This reminds me of something that happened to me, just yesturday.
A “friend” is threatening to sue me because I accidently cracked the screen on her functioning iTouch and she wants me to pay $200.
I don’t respect this girl, and therefore, I am not going to pay her $200.
I think she’s too dumb to realize thata court won’t take something as small as this, and the court fee would cost more than the $200.
People are pathetic.

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