Doh! Potential Compensation Claims for Characters in ‘The Simpsons’
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Jan 20, 2012

Doh! Potential Compensation Claims for Characters in ‘The Simpsons’

The Simpsons is a widely adored television cartoon and as such, many people can recall classic moments and character quotes from the show with great ease. As someone who works within the industry of compensation claims, just some of the scenes that stick in my own mind include Bart trying to sue Krusty the Clown for appendicitis caused by ingesting a jagged metal Krusty-O (‘Round Springfield’, season 6, episode 22) and Mr Burns for hitting him with his car (‘Bart Gets Hit by a Car’, season 2, episode 10), Homer seeking compensation for being kicked out of an all-you-can-eat restaurant after eating too much (‘New Kid on the Block’, season 4, episode 8) and Marge wondering if she should sue Mr Burns for unfair dismissal from her short-lived job at the power plant (‘Marge Gets a Job’, season 4, episode 7).
I am however, surprised that there have not been more narratives in The Simpsons which explore claims for recompense since the potential for such is vast. Let’s take a look at just a few examples of where additional compensation claims could be made by characters in the show...

Ralph Wiggum: Excessive Paste Consumption

The problem:
The “special” child in the third grade of Springfield Elementary Ralph Wiggum has a penchant for eating paste which should actually be used for crafting activities during classes (‘I love Lisa’, season 4, episode 15, for example). Such a habit could cause major digestive problems in the long run for Ralph and this could force the boy to have time off from school and his father – Police Chief Wiggum – to take time off from his job, leading to a loss of earnings.
Who would be liable?
Schools across the United Sates are expected to purchase non-toxic glue for their students to use but considering how tight the budget for Springfield Elementary is (sneaking into an American Historical Battle re-enactment spot because the school can’t afford tickets for the students, anyone? – ‘The PTA Disbands’ Season 6, episode 21) due to underfunding it would not be shocking if the paste chosen by Principle Skinner was not safe for children.
If the purchased glue is up to the expected safety standards than Ralph would have no one but himself to blame should he become ill due to his habit.

Homer Simpson: Radiation Poisoning

The problem:
Nuclear power has the, er, power to cause all kinds of medical problems and genetic mutations – just look at the three-eyed species of fish Blinky! Since Homer has worked at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant for more than 20 years (in viewer time) it is hardly any wonder that all of his hair has fallen out and that his IQ apparently drops further as each day passes.
Who would be liable?
Arguably, as the employer and owner of the plant, Mr Burns would be to blame for any radiation-related medical problems that Homer might have. This explains why Mr Burns gave Homer a phoney award (the “First Annual Montgomery Burns Award For Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Excellence”) and a cash bribe of $2,000 when a routine health check at work revealed he had become sterile due to radiation poisoning (‘Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes?’, season 3, episode 24). Burns’ sneakily got Homer to sign a legal waiver denying the plant’s responsibility and therefore Homer of any accident at work compensation that he might deserve.
The fact that Homer is the power plant’s safety inspector could also stop any claims being unsuccessful as – arguably – he should have taken more significant steps to reduce the risk of radiation exposure for all of the plant’s employees.

Dr Nick Riviera: Medical Negligence

The problem:
Inept quack physician Dr Nick Riviera has apparently avoided being sued by any of his patients for medical negligence to date but this is somewhat miraculous. In ‘Homer’s Triple Bypass’ (season 4, episode 11), it is implied that Nick’s “old friend” Mr. McGregg – who has “a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg” – does so due to Nick’s incompetence. Dr Nick has also been seen digging up bodies for organs in Springfield Cemetery (‘The Girl Who Slept Too Little’, season 17, episode 2), presumably for use in his unwell patients.
Who would be liable?
Dr Nick would be held responsible for damage caused by his unqualified medical work, as would any practise that mistakenly hired him as a certified doctor (some of the certificates in his office in ‘Bart Gets Hit By a Car’ (season 2, episode 10) read “Club Med School”, “Female Body Inspector” and “I went to medical school for four years and all I got was this lousy diploma” indicating that he is a complete fake).
Local governments usually work very hard to protect practising doctors from claims for compensation but unfortunate patients of Dr. Nick would surely be entitled to a huge payout.

Troy McClure: ‘Fishy’ Abuse

The problem:
In ‘A Fish Called Selma’ (season 7, episode 19) it is revealed that washed-up movie actor Troy McClure has a fetish for doing less than savoury things with fish – one of the main reasons cited for his “career” forever being on the rocks. Troy’s self-described “sexual abnormality” left him quite unpopular with the folk down at the Springfield Aquarium who would no doubt sue should they once again catch the 1970s star engaging in unspeakable acts with their collection of ocean friends.
Who would be liable?
Obviously Troy would be responsible for anything that he does to the aquarium’s fish but he could perhaps claim he was in a state of “temporary madness” as a result of his weird obsession and thus; perhaps reduce the amount of compensation that he would be ordered to give to the venue and its owners.
Troy might also have to pay for damages related to any films in which he was due to star before the ‘fishy’ story hit the headlines, ruining their chances of success and the profit margins of Hollywood studios.

The author of this guest post – Kat Middleton – is employed as a specialist car accident compensation lawyer.