Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Man Dies While Court Tries To Collect Bill. That'll Show 'Em

From the Taking Your Job a Bit Too Far files:

An investigation has been launched into whether a British debt collector accidentally killed Andy Miller, 78, in trying to collect a £60 ($90) debt.

According to a story in the London Daily Mail, Miller had suffered a heart attack and stroke that put him in a coma, back in November. As a result, he was overdue in paying a speeding ticket – a ticket he had planned to contest.

But because he was incapacitated, he wasn't able to contest the ticket, let alone communicate with family members. So magistrates in Blackburn added £290 ($420) in fines, bringing the total to £350 ($507), and ordered a debt collector to go to Miller's home.

The debt collector, with all the subtlety and care of a rabid badger, forced Miller into his car, and drove him to an ATM. Miller's family warned the bailiff that their father's health was poor, but their protestations fell on deaf ears. Miller had a heart attack and died right there in front of the ATM.

If nothing else, this put the bailiff in the awkward position of not being able to collect the fine either, so I hope Miller got the last laugh. I wonder how he filled out that report.

"Dad was put under incredible duress," Mick Miller told the Daily Mail. "I know how nervous he had been and what a strain this would have been on him."

Justice Minister Jack Straw has ordered an investigation into the matter.

This is what happens when uncaring martinets – a person who values strict adherence to the rules over human decency and even ethics – are given positions power and no latitude or even allowance to show some humanity when it's truly needed.

Let's hope the British courts and justice system give the bailiff and his supervisors as much leniency as they deserve, rather than as much as they showed Miller. And let's hope that Miller's family receives a fair and just compensation for the bailiff's negligence and bullying.

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