I know we’ve all gotten a pretty good laugh about how the “victim” in the case of Rick Rypien vs. the Wild, James Engquist, has talked about how he was pondering a law suit against Rick Rypien for reaching into the stands to grab him. It seems silly that a guy who was already sitting behind the team’s bench would look to grab a little extra cash for what amounted to him getting his shirt mussed up, but Tony Gallagher of The Vancouver Province has taken a look into things, legally-speaking, and figured out that Engquist could end up making a hearty profit out of all this.
All Engquist has to do is to threaten to file the suit which means the Rypien side (read Canucks here) would then have to file some sort of defence.
Mounting said defence to prevent this thing from getting out of hand would cost upwards of $50,000 to $80.000 by most accounts today in the U.S., and if this is to be paid for by the Canucks insurance, their premium rates would then go up correspondingly.
By filing or threatening to file Engquist then encourages the Rypien side of the equation to offer to settle to avoid having to mount the expensive defence and the guy walks off with some twenty to thirty grand. Not a bad payoff just for being a jerk in the right (sic) place at the right time.
The fact that the U.S. court system, and indeed the court systems of many other countries, permits this is deplorable. It is injustice by virtue of the threat of justice—or more accurately the threat of the ponderous and ludicrously expensive justice system.
Yes, it is crazy that Engquist could end up cashing in just by filing the appropriate paperwork and presenting litigation. And you wonder why tort reform is always being yelled about in the United States? We’re not about to go debating whether or not the cost of hiring a good lawyer is what helps make this whole thing possible (it certainly doesn’t help matters) but the mere possibility that Engquist could just cash in virtually automatically is insane.
We’re sure there isn’t a shortage of lawyers (both reputable and not) eager to assist him in his potential case against Rick Rypien and the Canucks but it basically falls back on Engquist’s shoulders on whether or not he wants to be seen as just a guy that whined after getting grabbed or if he wants to be a complete jerk that’s testing the limits of the American legal system. Again, he does have a case here but let’s get real here. He wasn’t injured, he was probably startled, and he got a seat upgrade after it all went down. Engquist should do something that Rick Rypien didn’t do: Show restraint.