This past week, Alabama’s own U.S. Sen. Katie Britt made waves by arguing brilliantly that the southern border does not lead to the American dream. Instead, it’s “an American nightmare!” she said. Well put.
In the same week, liberal Rep. Ayanna Presley (D-Mass.) shocked CNN’s Jake Tapper by insisting that the southern border is secure while also claiming a humanitarian crisis exists as illegal immigrants flood across the nearly non-existent line. Tapper seemed incredulous, asking, “But if you have millions of undocumented migrants coming into the country, how is the border secure?” Her deflection was, “This is not a new crisis.”
Two doctrines come to mind here. One is unwritten, and the other is black letter law.
The first is simply the old rule of the retail store: “You break it, you buy it.” That’s why my dad told me as a knothead kid to keep my hands in my pockets when we went into a store filled with breakables.
But there’s a legal version of the “you break it, you buy it” retail rule. In the practice of law, it is common to find a suit for injuries that were proximately caused by the negligent or reckless acts of another person. Sometimes those cases are the only way that a person can be “made whole.”
But what happens when the injured person is simply more susceptible to being hurt? What if the person has a physical disability or a special condition, and their injuries are made worse simply because they were more prone to being hurt than another similarly situated person? Can a person be sued for injuries made worse by a pre-existing condition?
Yes, they can.
This longstanding rule is called the “eggshell plaintiff doctrine.” Its basic premise is that if someone has a skull that can crack as easily as an egg – even if the average person wouldn’t have suffered the same injuries – a negligent person is still liable for hurting them. When it comes to injured persons, the courts say that “you have to take them as you found them.”
Defendants try to point the finger at the fragile state of the injured person, saying that no one could have foreseen such injuries. But if it is shown to the court’s satisfaction that the defendant caused the injury, then it doesn’t matter if the injured person was toting an eggshell noggin. In injury law, you take them as you find them.
The eggshell plaintiff doctrine is the legal version of “you break it, you buy it.”
What we are watching right now on the U.S. southern border is a classic example of trying to blame an injury on a pre-existing condition. By breaking our already fragile southern border, the Biden administration is causing massive injury to our country, our way of life, our economy, and our national security.
In August alone, 232,972 people were encountered illegally entering the U.S. Projections for 2023 suggest we will exceed 3 million illegal immigrants in one year.
Some reports indicate that since Biden took office, over eight million illegal immigrants have entered the U.S. That’s more than one and a half times the entire population of the State of Alabama!
In Eagle Pass, TX, thousands cross the border every single day, overrunning the small town whose population is only 30,000. “I believe 100% [Biden] … bears some responsibility for this crisis,” the mayor of Eagle Pass said. “I haven’t heard from anybody in the administration. The president hasn’t put out a statement, the vice president, I haven’t heard from anybody.”
But the Biden administration swears it’s not their fault. It’s a longstanding problem, they say. The border had issues before we got here, they say.
Well, I’ve got news, Mr. President: It may be an eggshell plaintiff, but the injuries were made worse by you. You broke it, so you buy it.
But deflection continues. Recently, in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Biden blamed Republicans for the growing numbers of illegals crossing the border. “MAGA Republicans in Congress and my predecessor spent four years gutting the immigration system,” he said. “They continue to undermine our border security today, blocking bipartisan reform.” Does he remember that he is the chief executive right now?
White House spin doctor and breaker of glass ceilings, Karine Jean-Pierre, insisted recently “that President Biden is doing ‘everything’ he can to combat the surge of migrants at the southern border, and she accused Republicans of not doing enough,” the “New York Post” reported. “We have taken steps without the help of Republicans in Congress to do everything that we can to deal with this issue,” she continued.
None of their blaming of an illusory past gives them a bye on this issue. Remember that eggshell plaintiff doctrine: “You take them as you found them.” The rule of retail: “You break it, you buy it.”
It does not matter one whit whether the border was perfect or fragile when Biden took office. The fact is, Biden is the one in the position to either help or hurt, and he has chosen to hurt.
The United States is the injured party. Our southern border is our eggshell skull. The Biden administration’s actions are the proximate cause of countless injuries to our whole society. The fact that we already had some problems does not absolve Biden of liability for making our problems worse.
Mr. President, you break it, you buy it.