Rumor has it that this may be the last year that Santa visits the Hamptons. Last week I was having lunch with my personal insurance representative, Mr. Snodgrass, from Lloyd’s of London Insurance, and he informed me that an unusual number of lawsuits against the Jolly One have occurred in the past few years. In fact, he indicated that if something doesn’t change, Santa may be forced to cease all activity before next Christmas.
According to Snodgrass, Lloyd’s insures Claus and his entourage against lawsuits and claims from various potential areas of liability and his annual premiums are now in excess $50 billion.
It seems one particular area of ongoing litigation is the damage being done by reindeer hooves while landing on rooftops. And some of them are totally bogus. A lady in Water Mill, who I will not name, filed a $122,862.22 lawsuit against Santa last year for roof damage. Never mind the fact that the claim was filed on December 23 and Christmas is not until the 25th.
Another attack on Santa was from a man in Quogue, who asserted that damage was done to his hardwood flooring as a result of Santa’s tracking soot into his home. Luckily, the homeowner was prosecuted for filing a false claim after it was determined that he had a gas fireplace.
But the greatest area of real liability and source of lawsuits has resulted from Santa not being able to keep up with the many toy recalls and product safety warnings.
When I was a kid it was easy for Santa because toys were made of wood or steel. Santa was also respected and appreciated. And besides that, everyone wasn’t so litigious then.
Snodgrass went on to say that his offices had recommended to Santa’s counsel that this year he include a disclaimer that would be left at each house along with the presents. He was nice enough to give me an advanced copy:
Please be advised that the toys and items I have delivered may not be safe to use. In fact, most toys can be dangerous, especially if used incorrectly, including dolls, bears, swing sets, Tasers and mace. Accordingly, you will need to use them at your own risk. If you do use one of the presents I have delivered and injury occurs as a result, please be advised that not me or any of my elves are responsible as such. If you find a piece of coal in your stocking, please do not eat the coal. Ingestion of coal may lead to serious health issues and even death. Also, please be advised that Mrs. Claus and I will no longer be accepting legal service at the North Pole. Please direct all legal matters to Goldstein, Levy and Bassett of Manhattan.
So there you have it. If we do not do something after this holiday season to reduce the liability to Santa, we may be facing a very gloomy Christmas next year.
In the meantime, just to be safe, if you have any concerns about the safety of a toy or other product, you may be able to find the answers at www.cpsc.gov.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!