Everyone's heard the old joke about the man with injured hands who asks his doctor if he'll be able to play the piano once the bandages come off. When the doctor assures him that he will, the man replies, "That's funny. I never could before."

The joke would work with lots of other instruments, too – but not with bagpipes -- because no one can master bagpipes, no matter how much time is spent practicing.

They say that bagpipers walk as they play to get away from the noise – and because moving targets are harder to hit.

In any case, the ability to play the bagpipe is more likely to be considered a curse than a blessing, at least by anyone in the vicinity of the would-be piper.

Nevertheless, a St. Clair County couple is suing their insurance company for failing to compensate the husband for his alleged loss of an alleged bagpipe-playing ability.

Thomas and Karen Linn already have received $375,000 from Liberty Mutual in compensation for injuries allegedly sustained in an automobile accident two years ago. Was Mr. Linn en route to a bagpipe lesson at the time? Was he piping while driving? Did his kilt get caught in the steering wheel? We don't know.

What we do know is that the couple's original policy was for only $100,000. When Liberty Mutual refused to pay the full amount, the Linns went to arbitration and were awarded $375,000 -- $275,000 more than the value of the policy. That may seem like arbitrary arbitration, but that's what happened.

That $375,000 windfall apparently didn't cover the burst bagpipe dream and other incidentals, however. The Linns are now suing Liberty for $200,000 more.

He who pays the piper normally calls the tune, but not in this case. Liberty Mutual may be paying the piper, but they're definitely not calling the tune and the piper isn't piping.

If the Linns have their way, Liberty Mutual will keep on paying. At least the piper won't be playing.

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