Ever heard of the term “schadenfreude”? It is a German word that describes the type of enjoyment one person gets when they see another in pain and agony.
When Bugs Bunny drops a piano on Elmer Fudd’s head, that’s schadenfreude, but when a Los Angeles doctor pulls his car in front of two cyclists, sending them flying off of their bikes and through his windsheild, well, that’s not schadenfraude at all — it’s assult with a deadly weapon. Doctor Christopher Tompson hit two bikers with his car and his purposeful bicycle accident resulted in a five-year prison sentence. But the main cause behind his crime was not schadenfraude for laughs, but road rage with the intent to educate.
This case first caught the eye of our firm’s car accident lawyers nearly a year ago when Tompson, 60, pulled in front of two Brentwood cyclists on July 4, 2008, after being fed up with bikes sharing the road he traveled in his daily route and wanting to teach them a lesson. What the cyclists were dealt instead was a series of injuries from the bicycle accidents including one of the bikers needing to have his nose reattached.
Obviously, Tompson’s road rage-fueled actions backfired on him and aside from spending five years in jail, he could still be sued by the two cyclists for money that would be used to help pay for their medical bills and other expenses accured as a result of his poorly executed lesson plan.
In his defense, Tompson stated that his road rage came from the fact that cyclists – who rode down the narrow five-mile street in Mandeville Canyon — refused to do ride in single-file. A number of his neighbors had the same complaint, only to have their protests outweighed by the hundreds of letters from local cyclists pleading for Tompson’s sentence to harshly reflect on his crime, which could have easily escalated into a wrongful death of either of the bikers.
The critically acclaimed show “Arrested Development” had a running gag about the patriarch of the family employing a man with a prosthetic arm to “teach lessons” to his children by having their actions — such as rough-housing in the car or leaving the refrigerator door open — end with the man-for-hire losing his arm. By the end of the show, the final lesson taught was that you don’t teach lessons.
The car accident lawyers at our San Diego firm feel the same way. Let those in charge of the making and enforcing the laws issue citations, fines, and prison sentences to those guilty of real crimes rather than getting so angry that you commit a crime. Just ask Tompson as he finishes his homework on the subject from a jail cell.
What do you think about this? Did Tompson receive a fair sentence? Do you feel that he was justified in his anger at the cyclists? And if you ever experienced road rage, what did you do to calm yourself down?
If you were injured and believe that you deserve compensation, then call our bilingual law offices in San Diego right away at 1-800-655-6585 or click here for a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer and find out how we can help you. We look forward to providing good advice for your case. There is no fee if no recovery.