Cookie monsters

In Durango, Colorado, a woman successfully sued two teen-age girls for dropping off home-made cookies at 10:30 one night. The girls had decided to give cookies to their neighbors just to be nice. The Denver Post reports:

The July 31 deliveries consisted of half a dozen chocolate-chip and sugar cookies accompanied by big hearts cut out of red or pink construction paper with the message: “Have a great night.”

The notes were signed, “Love, The T and L Club,” code for Taylor Ostergaard, then 17, and Lindsey Jo Zellitti, 18.

Seeing a light on, the girls knocked on the door. Wanita Renea Young, 49, was so scared by the knock that she called the police; she went to the ER the next day with an anxiety attack.

A Durango judge Thursday awarded Young almost $900 to recoup her medical bills. She received nothing for pain and suffering.

“The victory wasn’t sweet,” Young said Thursday afternoon. “I’m not gloating about it. I just hope the girls learned a lesson.”

Don’t practice random acts of kindness.

Taylor and Lindsey declined to comment Thursday, saying only that they didn’t want to say anything hurtful.

Classy kids.

Young said the girls showed “very poor judgment.”

Look in the mirror, lady. If it’s not too scary.

Update: A radio host is soliciting contributions to help the girls pay the judgment. The girls are getting plenty of donations and support, reports the Denver Post. One reader called litigant Young a “cookie batterer.”

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  1. Quite possibly the most frivolous, frivolous lawsuit ever.

  2. Wanita sounds like someone I dated. Better to pay the $900 and stay home.

  3. It’s a good thing my fingers can still move, because I’m speechless. If it is any consolation to you, I listened to the radio broadcast yesterday (it happened to be a sports talk show) and listeners were very supportive of the girls. Money was raised to compensate them for the lawsuit, but even that was little to shake them out of their disheartened, depressed, and probably jaded state.

  4. What to do with $900 received by such a lawsuit:

    1) Pay your lawyer. Oops, that’s more like $9,000.

    2) Change your name and move somewhere far away.

  5. Mad Scientist says:

    This is an example of 99% of the legal profession give the other 1% a bad name.

    The judge should have told that bitch to go have a nice big mug of “Shut the hell up” and get out of my courtroom.

    Instead of paying the judgement, some lawyer should appeal the case pro bono.

  6. On my own blog I wrote about the 2 fat kids who are suing McDonald’s because of their obesity and health problems–they ate at McD’s several times a week for years. I didn’t think you could get a more frivolous lawsuit than that one.

    Until I read this post. Ugh.

  7. Ms. Young would have croaked had she been a member of my church this past Christmas. We had a “Secret Santa” (two of them, as it turned out) and had to answer the door after dark a few times. Given her anxiety levels, she would have been gone by about the third level.

    This is a case where society has become hypersensitive to the dangers around us. Now, granted, Mrs. Woody had me around to answer the door. Still, good deeds done for the right reasons need not to be punished. Admonish the kids to be a bit more careful next time and drop it. They were more than willing to recoup the lady’s medical expenses. Why keep rubbing salt in undeserved wounds?

  8. I’d prefer to contribute to a fund to be used to appeal that judge’s ridiculous judgment. I’m appalled by the lawyer who took that woman’s ridiculous case–but even more so by the judge.

  9. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Which lawsuit is more frivolous–this one, or the genius who burned her crotch with McDonald’s coffee?

  10. In other blog coverage of this story, it was clear that the hearing was in small claims court, in which attorneys rarely appear.

    I have twice been the victim of malicious claims in small claims court. I “lost” — had to pay the plaintiff — both times.

    Once was a rental matter, and I wasn’t too upset about the loss because in my naivete I had poor documentation. (I hadn’t photographed the before-and-after condition of the property, so I didn’t really have proof of the damage the renter left.)

    The second time was different. I fulfilled the conditions of the contract, but the plaintiff was not satisfied with the costs she had had to bear, so sued me in small claims to recover her out of pocket costs. There was clear indication in the contract the plaintiff had signed that the relief she was seeking was not allowed under the contract. The judge STILL awarded her 50% of her claim.

    So the “scary cookie” case isn’t an indictment of American tort law per se. It may be an reflection on the litigious nature of society and the judge supporting that victim mentality.

  11. I think the woman went way overboard, but I do sympathize as a single woman living alone. (Of course, that’s why I have a keyed deadbolt and a window at the front door to check out visitors).
    This shouldn’t have been a lawsuit. The apology should have been more than enough.

    However, the girls weren’t acting so smart either. In many states, they could have been legally shot for trespassing!

  12. If the award was $900, why does a later article report it was ONE DOLLAR?
    Denver Post
    “The judge awarded only $1 for damages, even though he could have given the plaintiff lost wages and the cost of new motion- sensor lights for her porch and more. She had itemized about $3,000 in all.”
    I think the girls could’ve been legally shot dead in Texas for their prank. heh.

  13. Man.

    And to think, the only thing I’ve ever gotten from neighbors at night is the sound of their stereo (set on 11) as they had an outdoor “house” party.

    The chick who sued should be happy the only thing she’s having left on her doorstep are cookies.

    I agree, as a single woman living alone, it can be kind of nerve-rattling to have your doorbell ring at night. But, geez. The kids were just trying to be nice. The last thing we need to do in this country is poop on the good intentions of some folks. (I’d have thanked them for the cookies but made a comment about how I’d be concerned about them being out so late, if I were their parents).

    And for that matter, if you’re so freaked by the doorbell, why not just not answer it? I do that sometimes, if I have good suspicion that the person on the other side is one of those smarmy college students who is selling magazines supposedly to boost his confidence. Pretend you’re not home. I mean, there’s no law that says you have to open your door (unless, I suppose, the person on the other side identifies themselves as police).

  14. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t eat something randomly left at my door. Sad, but denying the state of the world doesn’t make one safer.

  15. Vivacesunshine says:

    The judge awarded money for two different reasons. The nearly $900 was for the woman’s medical bill. There was $1 awarded for damages.

  16. Those would both be forms of damages, Vivacesunshine. “Damages” = any monetary award. The latter would be “non-economic damages,” such as for “pain and suffering,” “mental anguish,” or other similarly intangible, non-quantifiable harms.

  17. We’ve linked this post on Carnival of Education #1 The URL is here: