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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

banana peel law suit ..... man gets punished

Every morning I commute to office through congested Zambazaar, the market place for bananas. Have seen banana plantations alongside river Tamarabarani as also around Kaveri in Trichy.  Banana, that delicious fruit is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce.  Interestingly, bananas do not grow from a seed but from a bulb or rizhome.  Most parts of the tree would be of use.  The flower appearance is the most looked for thing. Bananas come in various shapes, sizes, colours and tastes also.  They could be yellow, purple, red and green. The varieties that one get to see in local market are green, nendran, rasthali, puvan, robusta, red, hill, karpoora valli and of late G9 and more….

In Tamil Nadu, eating in a banana leaf is fulfilling and traditionally food is served on big banana leaf on ceremonial occasions. You could have heard of this ‘toungue twister’  ~ வாழைப்பழம் தோல் வழுக்கி வாலிபர் உயிர் ஊசல்”  (‘Vazhaipazha thoal vazukki vaalibar uyir oosal’) – in Tamil you have this ‘zha’ () uncommon to other languages and not many pronounce this too well [you hear of them so often in TVs and Radios]

People love to eat bananas ~ but some throw the skins on the streets quite carelessly – which can make people tumble down and hurt themselves.  Some decades ago, intentionally throwing them on street / public place and laughing when people tumble was a joke ! ….. there is thin line between such foolishness and comedy as some could hurt themselves badly stepping on a banana.

Banana skin is peel …. Heard of ‘peels of laughter’…. Actually it is ‘peals of laughter’….. A peal is : ringing of a set of bells; a loud burst of noise. A peel is the skin or rind of a fruit or vegetable. So bananas and oranges have peels, and laughter and thunder come in peals.

Go bananas : would mean ‘to go crazy mildly’.

Banana republic is theoretically a small, poor country with a weak or dishonest government.

Banana skin  is something that causes or is very likely to cause embarrassing problems

Top banana : is the leading comedian  and can colloquially refer to ‘the chief person in a group or undertaking.’

In Chennai, if you are to trip on a banana skin, a good Samaritan could come rushing to help you – both would end up cursing the one who carelessly threw the banana peel on the public place.  There are good people who would clean and push the peel to a corner, before somebody could get hurt.  Have been reading that in US, liability laws are strict and there would be lawsuits for all sorts of torts. 

Today’s media is abuzz of reports of a man who sued the D.C. metro claiming that he slipped on a banana peel and injured himself  - he has been charged with second-degree fraud. 

In the reported case, Maurice Owens claimed that he was riding in an elevator at the Potomac Avenue  Metro station when he hurt his leg and hip after tripping on the peel. He claimed that he was riding in an elevator when, he says, he slipped on a banana peel as he was getting off, injuring his hip and leg.  The man reportedly sued the transit agency for $15,000 — in part to cover $4,500 in chiropractor bills.

The claim against Metro was thrown out, and Owens, 42, was charged with second-degree fraud, a felony ~ and it was due to the digital camera installed.  Going by the footage it was stated that the man got into an empty elevator, and was seen flipping something onto the floor behind him. According to a Metro Transit Police report, “this object was later identified as a banana peel.” Seconds later,  Owens falls to the ground — half his body inside the elevator, half outside. Owens then reported his injuries to the station manager, Metro Transit Police was called and Owens was taken to Howard University Hospital for treatment. About two weeks later, Owens filed his claim against Metro. Owens had reportedly asked why a custodian for the station had “not cleaned up the banana peel causing the fall’.

Metro presented its case to the U.S. attorney’s office in the District. A warrant was issued accusing Owens of fraud, and he was arrested. This was a lone case and is one of the roughly 225 claims Metro’s Third Party Claims office receives each month. Most seek compensation for slips and falls on station platforms, stairs, escalators, elevators and buses, or while getting on and off trains. Fewer than half of those claims result in a settlement from Metro, and the average payout is less than $2,500, it is stated.  Some of them include a claim for oil dripping from rail car’s air conditioner on to shirt, a person having his sandal stuck in escalator and the like. 

Away from this mess where the man who sued got punished thanks to CC TV footage, a Brazilian researcher, who also happens to be a banana lover, has taken an interest in the lowly banana peel and is helping to remake its image. The banana peel, it turns out, can take water dirtied by heavy metals from mining operations or other activities and turn it to clean drinking water.

Wherever you are ~ the next time you see a banana on the road, make sure that it is removed and sent to garbage bin…..  of course, ensure that you yourself never throw on in a public place

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Nov. 2013.

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