The day the toast wasn't burnt

The Madison County Record Jan. 10, 2010, 2:00am

The story is told of the seven-year-old boy who never spoke. None of the specialists his parents had taken him to see could identify the source of his silence. Then one morning at the breakfast table a voice exclaimed: "This toast is burnt."

Their son had spoken at last! The parents jumped for joy, hugged their offspring and phoned friends and relatives to share the news.

As the excitement ebbed, curiosity grew and the mother inquired: "Son, why have you never spoken before?"

"Gee, mom," the boy replied, "up 'til now, everything's been fine."

We feel confident that no one will ever compare our editorial writers to the boy who never spoke because he had nothing about which to complain. We never run out of subjects for criticism, but we do have one thing in common with that boy: a tendency to take for granted the things that are working right.

Every now and then, we have to remind ourselves to notice the toast that isn't burnt.

On December 17th in the Supreme Court of Illinois, the bread was toasted to perfection. On that day six justices affirmed that "the mere sale of a prescription medication cannot be a representation which serves as the basis for a consumer fraud claim."

The justices thereby derailed a dubious class action suit against drug maker Bayer, filed by prolific local plaintiff's lawyer John Driscoll and obligingly certified by St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael O'Malley.

Writing for the majority, Justice Rita Garman asserted that Bayer could not have deceived lead plaintiff Teresa De Bouse about cholesterol drug Baycol because the company had not had any direct communication with her. The drug had been prescribed by her doctor.

This was an important distinction. With visions of big settlements, lawyer Driscoll and too many others look to drag deep-pocketed, multinational drug companies into our Metro East courts. They don't want paltry tussles with local doctors.

"If there has been no communication with the plaintiff, there have been no statements and no omissions," Justice Garman concluded.

As for toast, let's offer one to Rita Garman and her fellow justices for a decision well-rendered.

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