As we gear up for another season of holiday shopping, we grit our
teeth, head to the mall ...and take our lives into our hands dealing with
traffic, parking, crowds, harried salesclerks ...and killer squirrels.
At least, that's what Marcy Meckler had to deal with at the Old
Orchard Mall in Skokie, Ill., one Friday morning in December 2004. (A
tough punk squirrel, that is.) She says she stepped out of the Tiffany &
Co. jewelry store at the open-air mall and was making her way toward
Nordstrom's when, she says, she "had a squirrel jump up and attach itself
to her leg." Startling, to be sure, but "while frantically attempting to
escape from the squirrel and detach it from her leg, [Meckler] fell and
suffered severe injuries."
The injuries were not described but Meckler's lawsuit, filed in Cook
County Circuit Court with the help of attorney Glenn Guth, says they will
cause her to "in the future endure pain and suffering in body and mind."
The suit demands damages in excess of $50,000.
So how in the world is that the mall's fault? Mall owner Westfield
Corp., "by and through its agents, employees, servants and security
personnel, was aware of the longtime presence of the 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," the suit says. Worse, the suit
alleges mall employees "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." Even
that may have been OK, except, the suit complains, the mall failed "to
warn the plaintiff of the squirrel's presence."
Yep, Westfield surely knew there were squirrels in the open air mall
area. And I'll bet they even know for a fact that birds fly by overhead.
Heck: even bees, which some people are deathly afraid of, probably visit
the flowers planted around the stores. Some of those people have severe
allergic reactions to bee stings, too, and could literally die from it.
AND YET THEY DIDN'T WARN anyone of these things. Bah. All wildlife "could
be" dangerous sometimes, but most of it is fine if we just leave it the
hell alone and admire it, rather than harass it. Yet Meckler's suit
demands that they must harass it.
We share this planet with other living things. If we killed everything
else to keep from inconveniencing petty, spoiled brats who spend their
days buying bling, the planet would wither and die. So we deal with it if
we want to go out in the world. Malls can't -- and shouldn't -- control
scurrying wild animals any more than they can stop birds from crapping on
windshields as shoppers' cars sit in the valet parking lot. But maybe we
can do something about why-me crybabies who expect someone else to pay
for overreacting to normal situations, even when they fall down and go
boom. Significant monetary fines for filing frivolous actions comes to
1) "Mall Sued over Squirrel Attack", Chicago Sun-Times, 15 August 2006
(no longer available online)
2) "Lawsuit: Shopping Center Aided Attacking Squirrel", Sun-Times News
Group Wire, 14 August 2006