Time is money, so they say, but it's worth more to some than it is to others.

If you have a minimum-wage job, your time isn't worth too much. If you're unemployed, it's worth very little until you are working again.

On the other hand, if you're a high-priced plaintiffs attorney, your time may be worth quite a lot. An hour wasted might cost you $500 or more.

We don't know what Edwardsville attorney Shari L. Murphy charges per hour, or what she pays the employees of her law firm, but she evidently places a high value on her time and theirs.

On Oct. 21, Murphy's office received one or more pre-recorded phone calls from a telemarketer. Ten days later, her firm filed a putative class action against the company in Madison County Circuit Court, claiming that it violated the Illinois Automatic Telephone Dialers Act by concealing its true identity to get past the firm's caller ID system.

"As a direct and proximate result of Defendant's action, Plaintiff sustained damages, including but not limited to lost productivity, time and wages paid to financially compensated employees who were diverted from being gainfully employed, and instead dealing with robotic telephone calls," charge Murphy and her attorneys, supposed guardians of the public weal--Peter and Thomas Maag.

How much of the employees' time did the phone calls waste? Ten seconds each? Twenty maybe? Even at $500 an hour for a high-priced plaintiffs attorney, we're talking about a few pennies' worth of lost time. At $25 an hour or less for an employee, the cost is less than a penny.

The amount of time Murphy's firm will invest in this case is likely to be substantial, but a judgment of more than $50,000 -- plus treble damages, costs, etc. -- would make it worthwhile for Murphy and the Maags.

From the standpoint of the taxpayers who foot the bill for our court system, this lawsuit is a gigantic waste of time.

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