Opinion: The $150,000 olive

Mike Crissman

Mike Crissman

Mike Crissman is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

In a petty world where people sue each other every day over meaningless, trivial things — all in the name of making a quick dollar — comes Dennis Kucinich.

The former Cleveland mayor and current U.S. House of Representatives congressman filed a lawsuit on Jan. 3 against a cafeteria in Washington D.C. that allegedly served him a vegetarian wrap sandwich with un-pitted olives on April 17, 2008. Kucinich claims he received “permanent dental and oral injuries, requiring multiple surgical and dental procedures” after biting into the olive pit.

Kucinich reached a settlement with the company Saturday for an undisclosed amount of money, but the congressman’s initial lawsuit was for $150,000. That egregious sum, according to him, was supposed to compensate for his “pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment.”

Suing for loss of enjoyment? Well, shoot. I guess I should have taken legal action against my high school baseball coach for making our team run so many suicide-running drills during practice. Or maybe I should sue my 7th grade math teacher for giving me so much algebra homework.

Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds? Imagine if everyone who ever got diarrhea from eating Taco Bell sued the Mexican fast food restaurant. Nothing would ever get accomplished. Good people would go out of business. Riots would ensue.

Kucinich says the olive pit split his tooth in half, resulting in three dental surgeries. Now I’ve had a couple accidental hunger-related incidents in which I bit something really hard, namely a fork or two (and who hasn’t?), but I never broke any of my teeth.

Maybe the injury was a long time coming. You can’t fault the chefs who put the wrap together so much when you may or may not be dealing with a guy who had really weak teeth to begin with. Perhaps Kucinich has crazy cavities and a mean candy addiction. Perhaps his teeth are wooden. It’s hard to tell.

If Kucinich is being completely truthful about the extent of his injuries caused by the olive pit, the pertinent question then becomes “How was he that hungry?” Only a starving, near-death person is capable of biting so hard into a wrap that they break their teeth off on an olive.

We all knew Kucinich was a severely thirsty individual, running for president the last couple elections with no shot whatsoever of winning, but who knew he was that hungry.

The Cleveland Democrat may have been planning a little bit for the future when he filed the $150,000 lawsuit. The new Republican-majority Congress will soon redraw district boundaries, directly affecting politically opposing representatives like Kucinich in upcoming elections.

The congressman’s long-held 10th District in Ohio may be phased out by the next election in 2012. That, coupled with the fact that he has progressively received a smaller and smaller percentage of votes in recent congressional elections, point to the lofty lawsuit as a safety net for a potential early retirement.

The cafeteria company should have paid Kucinich for his medical bills and nothing more. If the exact settlement sum ever goes public, I doubt we’ll hear that the weasel-faced congressman weaseled his way to the full $150,000. Talk about loss of enjoyment.