Shaky Case: Florida Lawyer Sues Friend For Negligent Handshake

imgresFlorida lawyer George Vallario Jr., 76, has taken a case before a jury that could be a first of its kind.  Vallario has alleged that his former friend and fellow lawyer Peter Lindley, 59, is guilty of a negligent handshake that left him seriously injured.  Lindley apparently shook his friend’s hand at a child’s birthday party, but Vallario insists that the shake was “unexpected, unprovoked, uninvited, unauthorized, uncalled for, and most certainly negligent.”

The complaint alleges that

“Upon entering [the home], plaintiff was approached by the defendant who grabbed the plaintiff’s right hand without any reason, provocation or warning of any kind, with such ferocity, force, strength, and violence, that the plaintiff immediately shouted out and was in severe pain.”

There is no scientific source on the reasonable pounds per square inch or torque of a reasonable handshake.  However, Vallario believes that, whatever that standard may be, Lindley violated it with his forceful shake.

Vallario said that he experienced intense pain and has pictures of an extensive bruise on his hand.  He claims that he experienced mental anguish and required medical treatment after the encounter at the party for his god-daughter’s 11-year-old twins.

Vallario says that his friend was showing off and that he sued only after Lindley failed to make a gesture of apology or sympathy.

He is suing for damages “in excess of” $15,000, plus interest and costs.


24 thoughts on “Shaky Case: Florida Lawyer Sues Friend For Negligent Handshake”

  1. A “defensive non-alias” is the best offense.

    Walk around with a religious book (Bible, Koran, etc) always in your hand.

    This will deter others from attempting to shake your hand, or engage you at length, as they will see the book, and end the encounter quickly, expecting an attempt to proselytize.

  2. Squeek, Very good comment. However, in the real world the egg shell rule is not always followed. I have seen juries reject it even though it was part of the jury instructions. Often times it comes down to how the jury perceives the plaintiff or his/her barrister.

  3. A forum of lawyers, and nobody mentions the Eggshell Skull Rule??? Sheeesh!, that you take a victim as you find them. From wiki:

    The eggshell skull rule (or thin skull rule or you take your victim as you find him rule of the common law) is a well-established legal doctrine used in some tort law systems,[1] with a similar doctrine applicable to criminal law. It means that frailty of the injured person is not a defense in a tort case.

    There is more at the link. Anyway, I just did an Irish Poem on the rule.

    MerryTime Law???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    Some Harvard guys sued a Sea Gull,
    For damages done to their hull!
    The Judge got all teary,
    “Cause their legal theory. . .
    Was based on the old Eggshell Scull. . .

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  4. I’m a 60 y/o woman with beginning stages of Arthritis. I was at a dealership & the salesman, a young man, shook my hand so hard, my eyes watered from the pain. I told him he shouldn’t shake a woman’s hand so hard & extended my hand in his & showed him how it’s done. I didn’t sue, I just let him know.

  5. I’m a 60 y/o woman beginning stages of Arthritis. I was at a dealership & the salesman, young ma, shook my hand so hard and my eyes watered from the pain. I did tell him he shouldn’t shake a woman’s hand in a hard manner & even extended my hand in his & showed him how it’s done. I didn’t sue, I just let him know.

  6. bam, Great comment. Attorney suing attorney for a horse manure claim certainly is not good public relations.

  7. I know someone whose “friendly” wave is so forceful, even from a distance of 20 feet it can knock one down.

    Hopefully this case sets a precedent so that all forms of non-verbal greetings can be controlled by law. I’d certainly like to do away with the high five, fist bump, hug, European double-sided air man kiss, and the eyelid-crippling wink.

  8. The gesture is that one person offers their hand and the other may reciprocate or not. This was an ambush. At 76 you have probably lost upper body strength which makes it worse. I think the plaintiff has a case.

  9. The lawyer friend had no right to grab his friends hand and start shaking it. One should offer one’s hand for handshake but should not automatically grab another person’s hand, no matter how familiar you are with them. You actually do not have the right to place your hand on another person unless there is an unambiguous invitation to do so or consent has been given.

  10. Vallario, at 76, is, most probably, on any variety of blood thinners, which may have exacerbated the purported mark, or bruise, left on his hand. Just a hunch. I’ve known several individuals, over the years, who are required to take these meds, and their bodies, unfortunately, are riddled with obvious and unsightly bruises. No great pressure or trauma caused the marks–the bruises just accompany the medication. The bruise, in and of itself, doesn’t necessarily indicate that the handshake went beyond what constitutes a reasonable handshake or that it was delivered in a negligent or violent manner. If this old geezer is so fragile and feeble, where a handshake sends him into a tizzy, then he probably shouldn’t be attending a birthday party for a bunch of rowdy and rambunctious 11-year olds. Who knows? Some of the kids may raise their voices–even shout–at one of these parties. He would then, I suppose, assert that they caused his loss of hearing, not to mention, his crippling arthritis and frequent bouts of constipation.

    1. Old geezer??? Glad I’m only 70 or else I’d show you old geezer. Hope you appreciate achieving the same status and respect conveyed in your “old geezer” remark, whippersnapper.

      1. I only hope and pray that I have an opportunity to be blessed and fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age, where I will have the privilege and honor of being called an old geezer. Is it the “old” part or the “geezer” part that irritates you? Let’s face it–an individual, 76 years of age, is no spring chicken. There’s an old saying–once a man, twice a child–which references man’s return, once again, upon advanced age, to the stage of being a child. This lawsuit, from the very few details that have been provided, seems to indicate that the petitioner has resorted to acting as a foolish child. Blowing a simple occurrence, by an acclaimed friend, at a birthday party, into a lawsuit. Yes, old geezer fits him perfectly.

  11. I know friends Karen, and he is no friend. (a paraphrase from long ago.)
    And it was no accident.

    There was a big hulking Navy Commander who had a hand to match. I was a grade junior to him. He was really a good friendly man but known for crushers which he saw as a joke. As he approached and offered his hand in greeting, I folded my arms and said “don’t even think about it.” That went well. But a month or so later, we met again, and I felt his hand start to crunch but my hand was way up into the palm past the knuckle danger zone, and I held on as my left hand’s knuckles chopped hard on his wrist. His modus operandi changed. He manned up and the incident went no further.

    There are crushers out there, and it’s akin to willful assault and battery. There is no joke involved; it’s intimidation. The problem is that guys don’t want to be seen wimping out. What you can’t take a joke…etc.

    If the offender did do a crusher, it’s no different than hitting somebody.

    So pay up. At least there isn’t an assault charge.

  12. I, too, have been sucker-shaked. If you’re not ready, the back of your hand goes concave and it kills.

    So throw the book at him!

  13. I fail to see how this is actionable if the plaintiff claimed his damages could have been rectified by an apology.

    1. It is actionable because there was, allegedly, an actual injury. That Vallario was willing initially to settle for an apology seems to me irrelevant.

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