When weather doesn't suit you, sue weatherman
In a move sure to be fodder for columnists and other alleged comedians the
world over, a woman is suing an Israeli TV weatherman for malpractice.
This is roughly equivalent to taking your astrologer to court for a bad star
chart, but apparently Israel is no more immune to inane lawsuits than we are in
the US of A, where people get zillions as a reward for their own stupidity,
such as spilling hot coffee in their laps.
According to a story in the Maariv daily newspaper, the weatherman, one
Danny Rup, predicted a sunny day, so a Haifa woman went out dressed lightly.
The weather turned stormy, she caught the flu, missed four days' work and spent
$38 on medication.
She's suing for $1,000 as financial compensation for her stress and
sneezing, and she wants Rup to apologize. I'm totally unsympathetic. My
suggestion is the woman should have spent less money on Thera-flu and more on
The frightening prospect is that the Israeli case could inspire copycat
lawsuits in America.
Raining dental floss?
Weather forecasting is a science, but as yet, not an exact one. If they were
sued every time they were wrong, the only forecaster left would be grandma's
A spokesman for the National Weather Service said, "We'd like to be right
all the time, and we are right most of the time."
The spokesman said several suits have been filed in the United States, but
so far, no weathermen have been executed for faulty forecasting because the
judges know forecasters use the best scientific methods and Ouija boards
The man we think of at our house when we think of weather, and we think of
weather almost constantly, is WGN-TV's Tom Skilling, the man of 1,000 maps.
Skilling said the news story caught his ear, and he hopes it doesn't become
"It's a junk suit," he said with that irrepressible exuberance he has over
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anything weather-related. The worse the weather, the more excited he gets
because it means he can drag out another 500 maps to explain why it's suddenly
raining dental floss in Dyer or a glacier is blocking the left lane at the 95th
Street toll plaza on the Tri-State Tollway.
"It could end up that we have to take valuable air time and waste time
stating the obvious, that it is an information segment and, due to acts of God,
it doesn't always work out. Nothing would surprise me anymore," he said.
No points for stupidity
To expect weathermen to make accurate long-range forecasts - anything
extending beyond, say, the next five or 10 minutes - means you are either
overly trusting of authority or hopelessly gullible.
It is only one small step from there to believing politicians' campaign
promises or that vice presidents are selected because they will be the best
person to take over if the president dies.
Chuck Sennet, senior counsel for Tribune Broadcasting, said, "I wouldn't
lose any sleep over it. I think the courts would say there isn't a legal duty
owed by the TV station or the TV meteorologist to viewers to give them an
Sennet said it's not like a viewer hires the meteorologist to give
individual advice. He compared it to someone postponing a loan refinancing
because a newspaper columnist, certainly not me, erroneously predicts interest
rates will drop.
"It's just predicting," Sennet said. "All of us have been
inconvenienced by the weather. It could open it up to anybody who has missed a
plane, been late for work or had a picnic cancelled because of the weather or
who didn't get sufficient warning of a tornado.
"The idea of a malpractice lawsuit against a weatherman is scary, but just
filing it doesn't mean they will win."
Yeah, but being a stupid lawsuit doesn't mean they will lose, either.
You can e-mail Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org