Thanksgiving get-togethers can be a whole lot of trouble. Turkey, booze, and prickly personalities are often a recipe for confrontation -- and can also set the table for legal retribution in a Thanksgiving lawsuit.
Of course we're not encouraging you to get litigious over leftovers, or threaten to sue for distress over your Aunt Sue's dessert. But there could be a cornucopia of ridiculous results if you take some familiar Thanksgiving scenarios to their legal extremes.
Take your relatives -- please! Seriously though, with all their unwanted comments aimed at pushing your buttons -- like "Why can't you be more like so-and-so" or "Have you gained weight?" -- there lurks a potential lawsuit in waiting, for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
To sue successfully, the words must be purposely hurtful and they must hit you extremely hard -- like, make you so angry that you suffer a stroke. If you fall short of these standards, but your relatives are still saucy, perhaps it'd be easier to serve 'em with a simple restraining order.
Then there's the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game, a cause for raucous behavior that could also give rise to a cause of action. If the fans in your family lose control and your living room gets trashed, you can show you're serious about getting paid back, by suing for property damage.
Some jurisdictions call it vandalism or malicious mischief, when someone destroys or defaces your property. It's pretty easy to prove -- just be sure to snap pics of the damage, and keep all your receipts.
And what Thanksgiving lawsuit wouldn't be complete without a claim of foodborne illness. If something in a store-bought side dish made you seriously sick, you could slap the store with a product liability suit.
Most liability can be avoided, of course, with a properly drafted waiver. For this, your friends at the Center for Consumer Freedom have concocted a handy "Thanksgiving Guest Liability and Indemnification Agreement," available online.
It's only one page, but it appears to make you immune to a wide range of potential Thanksgiving lawsuits -- for example:
Guest acknowledges that eating may incur risks including, but not limited to, satiation, indigestion, heart burn, dizziness, laziness, heart disease, holiday spirit, "food coma," and "that bloated feeling." Host's meal includes any and all items served, including those brought by other Guests (including "Grandma").
Aside from a contract, there's an easier way to keep Thanksgiving lawsuits at bay: Keep in mind that while revenge is best served piping hot, some cooling off time may best serve your sanity.
Here's hoping your Thanksgiving is full of love and laughter, not run-ins with the law.
- 'Talkin' Turkey' to Create a Conflict-Free Thanksgiving (Psychology Today)
- Your Free Range Turkey May Not be All that Free (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Holiday Decorations: Can I Be Liable for Injuries? (FindLaw's Injured)