From a very young age, I have been taught to “regret nothing.” I have lived by those words for 25 years. Why? Because every mistake and decision, wise, or not, is a learning process.

I overheard a conversation at a local fast food joint that prompted me to plop down and begin surfing the Internet. After my near three hours of research, that “regret nothing” lesson quickly dissolved.

Not traveling back to my high school in Missouri and giving a piece of my mind to my counselor is something I will now and forever regret.

If Pat Garry had told me in 1993 that I could become wealthy and forever entertained as an attorney who seeks damages in frivolous lawsuits, I would probably not be driving a vehicle with an odometer reading of 124,000 miles.

Now folks, if you enter “frivolous lawsuits” or “stupid lawsuits” into your search engine, you will be amazed at the lengths people will go in order to make easy money. Or, in some cases, the attorneys who convince others to engage in these wasteful proceedings.

First, I must pay homage to the firm that persuaded Stella Liebeck to sue the McDonald’s corporation for being “scalded” by hot coffee. These guys did their homework. They were able to prove that McDonald’s knew they served their java a higher temperature than other establishments. They also played on jury sympathy that they were dealing with an elderly woman.

Congratulations. It worked. The jury awarded Liebeck more than $2 million, before the award was reduced to $640,000 by the trial judge. In the end, the two parties agreed on an undisclosed amount.

So, to make a way-too-long story short, a hot cup of coffee paved the way for other lawsuits — some so ridiculous, you can’t help but laugh. Here are some examples:

A convenience store worker was awarded nearly $2.7 million after injuring her back opening a pickle jar. She was awarded an additional $300,000 for compensation and emotional distress. After all was said and done, she was awarded $2.2 million.

Hmmm….I think she might be on to something. Has anyone else smacked the bottom of a ketchup bottle — only to be disappointed when one drop falls? Come to think of it, my shoulder is still a wee bit sore from the last encounter I had with one of those bottles. Better get a lawyer.

One of Los Angeles’ fine repeat offenders, while in the process of breaking into someone’s home, cut himself on the glass he had busted out with a flashlight. (Warning — this one happens frequently.) After being arrested, he sued the homeowner and was awarded an undisclosed amount by a jury of his peers.

Any attorney that would take a case like this should be disbarred. As a representative of the law, the job requirement is to uphold the law, not make a mockery of it. Luckily, steps are now in place to stop this kind of moronic behavior. And for any attorney reading this — don’t tell me ‘everyone deserves representation.’

This is general, but there are literally dozens, if not hundreds of people suing restaurants food producers for gaining weight.

Now, I know if I could bottle common sense, I would be a rich man. But, since I can’t, I will share some wisdom. If anyone eats poorly, or knows the drive-through cashier better than the inside of their own fridge, chances are, they are going to gain weight.

The only positive value of these and hundreds of other duncical lawsuits are the entertainment value. We can all definitely have a chuckle.

Come to think of it, Mr. Garry, thanks for steering me the direction you did. I don’t think I could sacrifice who I am for a luxury vehicle with low mileage.

Rick Phelps writes his column for the Brownwood Bulletin on Thursdays. He may be reached by e-mail at