by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
November 30, 2006
SQUIRREL VIOLENCE GRIPS ILLINOIS
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- I like nature and the creatures that live in it, provided they stay away from me. I'm what the outdoor-types call a Wilderness Wuss. In the wilderness, there are grizzly bears, timber wolves, snakes, and, squirrels.
Squirrels aren't vicious, you say? Piffle! Squirrels are
ravenous, terrifying beasts. Just ask Marcy Meckler. She was attacked by
a squirrel at an outdoor mall in Skokie Illinois two years ago.
According to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Mary was at the Old Orchard Shopping Centerhad one morning in December 2004. She had just stepped out of the Tiffany and Co. jewelry store, when a squirrel tried to steal her purse at knife point.
Okay, that's not true. She actually said she "had a squirrel jump up and attach itself to her leg."
Pretty scary, right? You bet. If it had been me, I would have screamed like a girl and whipped my pants off faster than a groom on his wedding night. So Meckler's reaction is understandable: she "frantically attempt(ed) to escape from the squirrel and detach itself from her leg."
However, she must not have been very good at it, because Meckler "fell and suffered severe injuries."
And that's why she's suing Westfield Corp., owner of Old Orchard. She wants $50,000 to compensate for the injuries that will cause her to "in the future endure pain and suffering in body and mind."
Pain and suffering? Body and mind? What did that squirrel do to her? Sure, maybe she had some gouges and scratches. I could even buy a leg injury, like a torn ACL or sprained ankle if she fell just right. But how does one suffer emotional anguish from a friggin' squirrel? Did it commit identity theft and buy thousands of dollars of electronics?
We'll probably never know, because Meckler's lawsuit conveniently does not say what injuries she suffered, other than unspecified "internal and external" ones. So that makes one wonder what she'll use the $50,000 for? Hours of physical therapy? Deep psychological counseling to help her overcome her fear of small woodland creatures? A credit counselor to restore her credit score?
And why would she blame the mall? How does a squirrel, who woke up one morning and found that his home had been replaced by a Cinnabon, become the responsibility of the Old Orchard Mall?
According to the suit, it's because mall personnel "were aware of the longtime presence of said squirrel on the premises and allowed the squirrel to remain on the premises, despite the fact that the squirrel had previously attacked and harassed other customers, a fact known to Westfield."
Ignoring the fact that Meckler's attorney writes run-on sentences that would make William Faulkner weep with jealousy, how does knowing about the squirrel make it their fault?
Apparently it's because mall personnel "encouraged the squirrel to remain on the premises by feeding and caring for the squirrel, despite the dangerous conditions that arose from allowing said animal to remain on the premises."
Squirrel: Dude, do you mind if I crash here for a while? My house smells like cinnamon rolls.
Mall Employee: Sure thing. Here are some blankets. There's beer and pizza in the fridge, and you can sleep on the couch.
Squirrel: Thanks, man. Can I play your Nintendo?
Mall Employee: Yeah, just don't go jumping on any customers.
Squirrel: No promises.
Maybe, just maybe, feeding a squirrel would teach it not to be afraid of humans. By overcoming its fear of humans, it wasn't afraid to approach one and give it a nice big hug. (On the other hand, maybe it was defending its nest and eggs against intruders.)
But what really takes the cake is that the suit says the mall did not "warn the plaintiff of the squirrel's presence."
How in the name of Marlin Perkins do you warn against being mobbed by a small woodland creature?
"Excuse me, ma'am, before you leave, we want to caution you against being attacked by wild squirrels, eaten by lions, or run over by a bear on a bicycle."
If you had to warn every customer about every possible source of injury, they'd never be able to leave. Instead, people should just practice common sense rules of caution as they go through their day.
Look both ways before you cross the street. Always wear your seat belt. Lift with your legs, not your back. Don't take candy from strangers. And never overreact to an overly friendly squirrel.
It's the weasels you need to watch out for. They charge an upfront retainer and take a third of the damages.