Friday, May 06, 2005

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- To a dessert shop customer, the severed fingertip found in a pint of frozen custard could be worth big dollars in a potential lawsuit. To the shop worker who lost it, the value is far more than monetary.

But Clarence Stowers still has the digit, refusing to return the evidence so it could be reattached. And now it's too late for doctors to do anything for 23-year-old Brandon Fizer.

"I'm not saying who has it, but somebody has it," Stowers said this week in a telephone interview, refusing to let on where the fingertip is now.

Soon after Stowers found the finger in a mouthful of chocolate soft-serve he bought Sunday at Kohl's Frozen Custard in Wilmington, he put it in his freezer at home, taking it out only occasionally to show to television cameras.

He refused to give it to the shop's owner, and refused to give it to a doctor who was treating Fizer, who accidentally stuck his hand in a mixing machine and had his right index finger lopped off at the first knuckle.

Medical experts say an attempt to reattach a severed finger can generally be made within six hours.

But according to the shop's management, Stowers wouldn't give it back when he was in the store 30 minutes after the accident.

"The general manager attempted to retrieve it and rush it to the hospital," reads a statement posted Thursday on Kohl's Web site. "Unfortunately, the customer refused to give it to her and declared that he would be calling the TV stations and an attorney as he exited the store."

Officials at Cape Fear Hospital said their efforts to retrieve the finger also failed.

Dr. James Larson, director of emergency medicine for UNC Hospitals, who was not involved in the case, said once Stowers took the finger home and froze it, it was too late to even try for reattachment.

So ultimately, this idiot that finds the finger in his ice cream (bad, but not the end of the world - its not like he actually put it in his mouth), tortiously causes the innocent kid to permanently lose his finger. And why? To possibly make a windfall of money from the store. Too bad the kid will probably win 2-3 times more (at a minimum) than this moron when he sues him for not giving him his finger back.

Plus, with the public behind them, the store will never settle with this guy, and even if he wins at trial, I guarantee you the kid's claim will (at least they will try) be tried with his suit (potentially the kid could assign his claim to the store or something to insure that happens - there is probably a workers' comp issue here that I am unfamilar with. I am pretty sure workers' comp preempts a tort claim against the employer, but not sure if (or why) it would preclude a claim against someone other than the employer - such as this customer).

So even if the customer wins at trial, he will almost assuredly also lose, and most likely more than he just won.

He is screwed, and frankly, he deserves to be screwed. What an idiot.
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