A law firm is advertising on CNBC, trying to gin up plaintiffs for lawsuits against siren manufacturers. The pitch is: “Have you lost hearing after working around loud sirens?”

There must be people who have lost hearing from sirens. However, sirens are supposed to be loud. No one could reasonably expect otherwise. Nor is it the responsibility of siren makers to protect people from sirens. Individuals, and perhaps their employers, should do that.

Probably what the lawyers intend to do is find a large group of people who have imperfect hearing and used to drive ambulances or work in factories, assert that their hearing problems result from on-the-job exposure to sirens, and extract a settlement from siren manufacturers who want to avoid expensive litigation and the financial Sword of Damocles of a possible adverse jury verdict (jurisdiction to be selected for maximum plaintiff-friendliness).

Who will bear the costs of these cases (unless they are thrown out as they should be)? The siren manufacturers will go out of business, pay out a lot of money and/or move overseas. Sirens will cost more. The private firms and governments that use sirens will pass along the higher costs in the form of higher prices for their products, higher taxes and fewer jobs. Perhaps they will use fewer sirens in the future, which might lead to more accidents and related costs. Employers will tell workers to wear ear plugs, but many workers will not do so. Some of the plaintiffs, whose hearing loss may or may not have been caused by sirens, will receive windfalls. The lawyers will make a lot of money and look for other industries to plunder. Maybe they will sue rock bands or the Army next.

14 thoughts on “Disgusting”

  1. Having stood near an Amtrak Genesis locomotive horn set, what you get isn’t a measly 96db-more like God knows what. A jet engine?

    New York is extremely unpleasant on main thoroughfares because of ambulances and fire engines blasting away. Exposing thousands of people to this a dozen times a day, or more, probably does far more harm to the public than can be made up by the ( very rare ) occasion of a person revived by the EMTs. Guaranteed our worthless mayor does nothing about what he can control.
    Wonderful how blood sucking lawyers make things worse.

  2. There has to be some reform as to product liability – I know that when I worked for Cessna in the early 80s people were duing them for something happening to a 30 year old Cessna. As if they were supposed to be pristine and like-new forever.

    Of course all this just kills business or drives it overseas.

    I suppose that is one reason we have warning labels on Drano warning people not to drink it. Becasue somebody successfully sued (more likely their family) claiming “they didn’t know”.

    Ofg course sirens are loud. So it this trend takes off manufacturers can tone down the decibels – and then we can have people suing because they didn’t hear them and were hit by a fire truck, ambulence or police car.

    Everyone wins except the manufacturer ;-)

    Who to escape liability in the future will move them to the PRC.

    They don’t worry about product liability there.

  3. If you think those ads are obnoxious, watch “Investigative Discovery,” the blood and gut murder series my wife likes. There are three sets of ads, One is for lawyers trolling for asbestos clients or other class action plaintiffs (If asbestos users are still alive, we should be studying them for longevity supplements), urinary catheter users and Progressive Insurance. It runs all night and must be contributing to the insomnia quotient.

    It does bring up the difference between European and US siren tones. Is one or the other less damaging ?

  4. Question: I always wonder if someone has ever sued the Chicago Transit Authority over the deafening level of the loudspeakers on its trains. Sirens you can’t avoid, and they do need to be attention-getting; however, there’s no reason that train loudspeakers are so loud as to cause physical discomfort. And talk about a captive audience!

    Also, and OT:

    If you think those ads are obnoxious, watch “Investigative Discovery”…

    I know – watching that channel (which is utter crime porn, and God help us but my wife and I can’t resist it) makes me realize that I am in a very “mature” demographic now. (And are catheters that big of a business? Actually, don’t answer that – I don’t want to know.)

  5. The Euro siren tone is especially useful in gritty crime thriller type movies. I hope they don’t switch to American style sirens over there.

    Last time I looked, which wasn’t recently, the word “mesothelioma” was the most expensive Google adword. An advertiser who bought Google text ads based on that particular keyword would pay Google something like 80-100 bucks every time someone clicked on one of his ads. The advertisers were generally law firms. There must have been a lot of money in it for them.

  6. If the case is meritless, it will be dismissed. If it is not brought in good faith, Defendant will be entitled to fees. Plaintiffs in these cases bear the burden of proof and the expense of prosecuting the claim. Class actions cost a fortune to prosecute, and counsel do not usually embark on them lightly. If this is as bogus as you believe it to be (I don’t know what is being alleged, so I can’t say one way or the other) then it won’t last long.

  7. I worked on defending mesothelioma cases. The plaintiffs are sick, and usually dying. The problem is that the real culprits have been bankrupt for so long. They knew that the asbestos they were using caused serious illness and they used it anyway. In recent years very tangential defendants have been brought in. But the problem, and the injustice, are absolutely real.

  8. My middle daughter works for a company that goes over the interviews and assigns damages. As Lex says, the results were real – and while apparently smoking increases the damage, few or no one gets this that hasn’t worked with ashestos. (And we have asbestos shingles on the gables and the porch. Not an unusual but rather depressing fact about 40’s houses.) Other kinds of liability – ah, my husband’s roommate in college was a tort lawyer and represented Honda and Ford, my brother ran a division of Coleman. I’ve been entertained by human stupidity and avarice in their stories for decades. But, in Texas, a lot of those stopped a few years ago. It may make for fewer anecdotes but, then, those didn’t exactly improve my view of human nature.

  9. Lex – what do you think of the John Edwards type of attorneys who use pure emotion in trying to get the jury to see their side? I think he was resorting to some theatrics “channeling” one of the “spirits” in one of his summary speeches.

    I knew of a good pediatrician who quit because of a suit against him – the jury saying, in some rare genetic case – that he should have known of the problem before birth.

    And shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations for liability? These ship workers who worked in the 40s-50s – when the dangers of asbestos were unknown – should a company be liable for the next 50-80 years?

    When I worked as Cesssa in the early 80s someone was suing the company because the seat slid back on the railings during a take off- breaking a latch – this in a 30 year old airplane long out of production. With, because of its current at the time value, not having the best maintenance.

    Obviously knowledge of a defect beforehand should play a part in the window of liability – Ford knew of the Pinto gas tank problem but felt that paying off lawsuits was cheaper than a massive recall – a very cynical way of looking at things but I am sure done all the time.

    On the other hand should a Ford have to declare bankruptcy 50 years down the line because of the problem?

  10. “But the problem, and the injustice, are absolutely real.”

    We had lectures on the hazards of asbestos in medical school in 1961. I fully agree that real mesothelioma cases are bad news but they died 25 years ago. This is trolling for frightened people who will swell the plaintiff roster. They think they are at risk for mesothelioma and entitled to damages.

  11. I have sat in the same room with plenty of real mesothelioma cases within the last three years. Old men, of course, but they all had meso. Defense did not have any basis to dispute that, or they would have.

  12. The problem I have with that kind of ad, even if there is substance in what they are looking for, is that they make the legal profession look even shabbier than it already does.

    There may be some sort of siren that is or was known to be particularly dangerous for some reason, loudness, or the frequencies emitted; who knows. Maybe some siren-make knew it and continued to make that kind of siren regardless.

    But the ads can be just ridiculously cheap and grasping – as sensationalistic as supermarket tabloid headlines.

    But, state Bars can’t do much about it, not like in the old days when they could place strict limits on advertisements.

  13. I was working as a trim carpenter, trimming out a high end community center in a wealth town. Every now and then for why I don’t know, the fire alarm system would go off. It was coupled with weird flashing lights. Now, construction is loud. I’m used to it. But these alarms were near night paralyzing for me, not a sensitive person. It was deafening. You could barely make yourself heard over it. I couldn’t imagine what it would do to elderly.

    Another thing, back up ‘beeping’ on construction equipment. Often there are multiple vehicles all beeping and you can’t tell who’s beeping and all you ever hear is beeping so you tune it out.

    It’s like the bizarre lights on State and local police vehicles now. They are blinding. You have to take a hand off the wheel to shield your eyes from the lights as you pass the police vehicles. You can’t see an black/dark blue officer beyond the lights. The past few years there have been officers struck. But it seem to be a fashion, who has the baddest, most expensive lights thing going.

    First the lawyers make you have stuff, and then they sue you for having it.

Comments are closed.