One of the great things about working in a large firm is the sheer depth of expertise and knowledge. As an example, a recent case came out and was analyzed in short order by the folks in our litigation group, which discussed an interesting interpretation liability for negligence.
The first three paragraphs sum it up rather nicely:
 The Mustaphas maintain a spotless home. Cleanliness and hygiene are matters of utmost importance to them. On November 21, 2001, an incident occurred that offended their sense of sanctity in the purity of their home, and shattered Mr. Mustapha’s life. In the course of replacing an empty bottle of Culligan water on the dispenser provided by Culligan, he and his wife saw a dead fly, and part of another dead fly, in the fresh, unopened, replacement bottle.
 Neither Mr. Mustapha nor any member of his family drank from the bottle. He became obsessed, however, with thoughts about the dead fly in the water and about the potential implications for his family’s health of their having possibly been drinking unpurified water supplied in the past.
 The trial judge accepted the medical evidence that Mr. Mustapha suffers from a major depressive disorder, with associated phobia and anxiety – all triggered by the fly-in-the-bottle incident. In the result, Mr. Mustapha recovered judgment at trial in the total amount of $341,775, plus pre-judgment interest, for psychiatric injuries suffered because of the incident.
My emphasis. The decision goes on for many, many more paragraphs to ultimately overturn the judgement and absolve Culligan of liability. Its a well thought out judgement with cogent arguments supporting the conclusion.
All that being said, even as a lawyer, sometimes I read certain cases, such as this one, and wonder whether judges ever wish they could write a judgement more along these lines:
C’mon Mr. Mustapha. Its a fly. OK, a fly and a half. It didn’t kill you. It wouldn’t have killed you. Get over it. Fine, you freaked out. And I probably would also be a bit upset. But really, destroying your life? $341,000 in damages? No, the damages aren’t from the fly, they’re from you. So forget it. Not today. Not in my court. Appeal allowed. Good day.
Yes, I have my tongue firmly in cheek and yes, definitely, I understand the need for lengthy and well-reasoned judgements, etc. But sometimes, just sometimes, I scratch my head a bit and wonder what the world would be like…