Handicap This Litigation

     Sometimes it takes an insane person to right a wrong.
     Well, maybe not insane, but obsessive.
     Quick-Pick betting at the races is a nice recent example. It seems, according to, naturally, a lawsuit filed the other day in Los Angeles Superior Court, that a computer program designed to make bets for people too lazy to point blindly at their own numbers had a bit of a problem – it wasn’t using the highest-numbered horse in every race.
     The suit, filed against Scientific Games Corporation, claimed that the company knew about this little problem since last November but nobody else noticed it until Kentucky Derby day.
     Then some guy comes along and makes 1,300 Quick-Pick superfecta bets on the Derby. (Note: you win a superfecta if you can pick the top four finishers in a race in order.) You’d think the fellow just might win one of those random bets.
     It didn’t happen. The No. 20 horse – a.k.a. Big Brown – won the race and his number was not on single ticket anywhere.
     OK, fine. Crazed, lazy bettor brings problem to light. Now consider the legal issues. What exactly is the point and/prognosis for the class action filed over this?
     You have a class of plaintiffs consisting of persons who don’t care what numbers they bet on and fully accept the risk that their randomly-picked numbers will be wrong. Shouldn’t a computer glitch be part of that risk?
     You also have a class with mostly plaintiffs who have thrown away their tickets and can’t be identified.
     And the damages are confined to races in which the highest-numbered horse finished in the top four. If that horse did not figure in the result, guess what happens?
     Yep. The bettors’ odds of winning are hugely improved with the faulty program.
     This is why horseracing and litigation are both so much fun.
     Now let’s consider bingo (i.e. betting on random numbers without the involvement of horses).
     A federal judge in Sacramento has at least temporarily stopped the state from seizing “electronic bingo aids” being used by charities to raise funds. One of the plaintiffs in this litigation is United Cerebral Palsy of Sacramento. Another plaintiff is the company that manufactures the electronic bingo cards. You can adjust your sympathies accordingly.
     On the other side is the State of California, i.e. bureaucrats, who seem to think it’s important to protect us from unnatural, electronically-enhanced bingo because they claim it’s too much like slot machines (which, of course, are radically different because they offer randomly-selected rows of symbols).
     And do you feel inspired by the disabled-advocacy group that wants to protect the right of the handicapped to lose their money?
     You kind of wish there was a way for a judge to rule against everyone.
     MORE ASSUMPTION OF RISK. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like it shouldn’t be surprising to see a sexual harassment lawsuit against someone whose stage name is Johnny Rotten and who performed with the Sex Pistols. You’d think sexual harassment would be part of the job description if you went to work for him.
     Apparently there are people willing to give such a person the benefit of the doubt.
     This is my favorite line from the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten: “The only warning given to the employees was that under no circumstances was anyone to touch Rotten’s hair.”
     The man obviously has a sensitive side.

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