"Are You My Mother" is the title of P.D. Eastman's popular children's book -- and the question asked repeatedly by its main character, a baby bird whose mother is absent at the moment of his hatching.
The baby bird leaves the nest in search of her, but, having no idea what she looks like, accosts everyone and everything in his path with his plaintive query: "Are you my mother?"
A dog, a cow, a plane, a steam shovel – these are a few of the unlikely candidates the hatchling confronts in his quest before being reunited at tale's end with his real mother.
While an entertaining story, Let's hope that Are You My Mother? was not the inspiration for a lawsuit filed in Kanawha Circuit Court late last year by Richard and Rebecca Pullen against 66 defendants. Yes, 66 alleged offenders!
The couple blame those 66 companies for causing the asbestosis and mesothelioma with which Richard was recently diagnosed. As manufacturers, suppliers, or sellers of products containing asbestos and other potentially harmful materials, those 66 companies failed to exercise reasonable care in warning Richard of the danger of exposure, the Pullens assert.
It's possible that someone is to blame for the illnesses Pullen's been diagnosed with, and that the blame could extend to more than one party. But 66 defendants seems excessive. Could the field not have been narrowed?
One might view the whole exercise as a fishing expedition, and picture Richard as a little bird accosting everyone in his life path with the plaintiff query: "Are you my defendant?"
But Pullen is no spring chicken. He's a real person of some maturity, and he's represented by a quartet of lawyers: David Chervenick, Bruce Mattock, Lee Davis, and State Supreme Court spouse Scott Segal. Surely someone in that legal group had to realize that to some, the suit seems more like a bad children's story than a serious lawsuit.