Even if you win, you just screwed yourself

Rachel Canning and her parents’ problems seem like pretty typical (albeit on the upper end of things) 18 year old acting-out-behavior. Suspensions. Drinking. A lousy boyfriend. Parental ultimatum of “break up with your boyfriend, or you’re financially cut off.”

So, she moves out, moves in with a friend, and the friend’s parents pay for an attorney to sue her parents for access to her college fund. (source) There is a lot of commentary on the case, and none of it positive. I’ll reserve judgment on the lawyer who would bring such a case, and even on the frivolity of the legal theories. After all, this is how the common law develops, right?

But, the best analysis is here:

Memo to Rachel Canning: Even if you win your lawsuit, you just screwed yourself. 20 years from now, when a potential employer — or anyone else, for that matter — Googles the name Rachel Canning, they will read all about how you threw a temper tantrum and sued your own parents. When those people read the article above, they will most likely put on you on their “she was crazy then, she is probably still crazy” list of people that they don’t hire, date, befriend or otherwise associate with. (source – comment by Emily Ruman)


9 Responses to Even if you win, you just screwed yourself

  1. Are the lawyers really furthering their clients’ interests by going to court? For me, that’s the real problem in this case and the Meyer Brown one. It’s not the claims sounding in plain douchbaggery–which I give a pass. It’s that that the litigation seems to me to undermine their clients’ true goals. At the end of the day, the attorneys seem to me to be violating their duty of loyalty by undermining their clients’ interests and billing them for it.

  2. I’m sure that if I did enough research, I would have a lot harsher things to say about the suit.

    But, I can certainly say that I have done things in my career that undermined my client’s goals. I told them so. I put it in writing. I told them “please don’t make me do that.” I haven’t ever said “ha ha, told you so.” Usually I just say “we can fix it.” But, occasionally, it does happen, that the client says “You see! I told you so!” because the client’s seemingly bad idea worked out.

    The client gets to decide to smash themselves in the face with a hammer, if they want to. I won’t do something unethical or illegal for them, but they’re free to decline my advice when I think something is against their interests.

    • I can see that. And we can’t really know whether that was done here, or how well and thoroughly it was done. Fair point.

      For me, that’s the kind of thing I could have to walk away from–“do no harm” style. Maybe it’s the stakes? When the stakes are life and death, or even freedom or imprisonment–I’m not sure the calculus is the same. I haven’t had much where it’s just money on the line.

      • Or reputation, homes, kids, etc.

      • I would certainly respect any lawyer who said “I’m not taking this shit.”

        But, lets be at least a little charitable – novel case theories are how we make law. I personally am delighted that the case went against them here, and I hope they appeal and lose, so that there is precedent that this kind of cause of action has no supportability at all.

  3. Yup.


    This is completely overblown. At least from an employment standpoint. Most private employers (at least those with a full time HR department) already forbid ‘googling’ of an candidate. And many corporate policies state you can’t do it after the employee is hired. There are also policies around facebook ‘friending’ of employees that may work for you (hint: its strongly discouraged).

    And background check firms never check since they are looking for whether or not you were even convicted of being an ax-murderer (or worse: wire fraud). And that’s where they stop.

    That doesn’t mean your new peers won’t google you at the first opportunity to find out if you did gay porn.. And even if they did find gay porn – it would get THEM fired for viewing porn on a company owned machine and network and not the new employee for participating in it.

    And I think its underestimated how many crazy guys are out there that would have no issues dating this person.

    • zerj says:

      Perhaps HR may well forbid it, but I certainly make an effort to find out anything I can about anyone I am asked to interview to be my new peer. I check linkedin/facebook/google for all of them. As to finding out they did gay porn, first that wouldn’t bother me, but get me fired it probably wouldn’t. Even if our IT department thought about checking (they wouldn’t), In the modern work environment roughly half my work is done on my own private PC.

  4. dan says:

    Ok for everyone taking strict sides on this one, I’m asking “did you actually go to read the link Marc provided?” This case is far from clear on either side. An honor roll student on scholarship to a private school going to uni in the fall? Is it a trust fund she wants access to? Or their money?
    “one or two school suspensions, drinking, losing her captaincy on the cheerleading squad and being kicked out of the campus ministry.” now these would seem to be possible danger signs but when balanced against the fact that no one is saying she lost her honor roll status or was in danger of losing her scholarship I tend to wonder. As a parent I have to say I`m sure I have no clue what`s actually going on other than the fact that it`s being played out in the media.

    • zerj says:

      Certainly some things still seem cloudy, but I thought she has a scholarship, not that she is on scholarship. Her parents were paying for her private high school tuition, The school where she has a scholarship wasn’t named, I was assuming UVM. Also her parents stated that she will still have access to her college fund either way, although that seems like generosity on their part. She is suing for child support and presumably her spring H.S. Tuition.

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