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Girl Claims Price Scanner Gave Her Tourette's Syndrome 558

Attorneys for Dominica Juliano claim that she was burned and developed psychological problems after a store clerk aimed a hand-held price scanner at her face. Store attorneys say their scanners uses a harmless LED light and that the girl had serious health problems before she was scanned. From the article: "Dominica Juliano was 12 when she and her grandmother entered the Country Fair store in Erie in June 2004. A clerk allegedly called the girl 'grumpy' before flashing his hand-held bar code scanner over her face and telling her to smile. Attorneys for Ms. Juliano and her guardian say the girl was sensitive to light and burned, and later developed post-traumatic stress and Tourette's syndrome."


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Girl Claims Price Scanner Gave Her Tourette's Syndrome

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  • Re:Fire that Judge (Score:5, Informative)

    by drachenstern ( 160456 ) <> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:01PM (#31851830) Journal

    "Why"? To have prior case study so that we can debunk future ones by showing frivolity. About the only good reason I can think up.

    Then again, this audience probably knows more about the inner workings of such a device than the general public, so we're quick to dismiss obvious BS claims whereas another peer group might not understand what's going on here.

  • Error in Summary (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:15PM (#31851970)

    Summary states:

    Attorneys for 12-year-old Dominica Juliano claim


    Dominica Juliano was 12 when she and her grandmother entered the Country Fair store in Erie in June 2004.

    So the stupid girl is now 17 or 18, but apparently non the wiser. I really wonder why it took so long for their parents to get the idea that they might squeeze some money out of this stupid joke.

  • Re:Litigation Land (Score:3, Informative)

    by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:17PM (#31851990) Journal

    It is not that. It is "Hey, he did something with technology I don't understand. I bet if I lie and say it hurt me, they will pay me big bucks to shut up and go away. Cha-CHING!"

    It is much more malicious and she and her family are shit.

  • Re:Fire that Judge (Score:5, Informative)

    by GasparGMSwordsman ( 753396 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:21PM (#31852024)

    So you suggest that a judge should throw out cases BEFORE hearing any evidence or examining the facts of the case. I question if you really understand the implications of that action. I also question your understanding of the law or history.

    The judge did in fact throw out the case, AFTER the facts were examined. []

  • Re:Fire that Judge (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:11PM (#31852488)

    The judge already threw it out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:43PM (#31852764)

    Conclusion: Cut the stupid jokes about it being “not real”. Reality is irrelevant for fixing such a problem. What counts is if that person believes it in her inner model, and if it makes her life bad from that point of view.

    This assumes that nobody's being grifted.

  • Re:Grumpy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mooga ( 789849 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:48PM (#31852810)
    Swearing is not Tourette's Syndrome, but rather coprolalia. As someone who has grown up with Tourette's, this misconception continues to make young people's life hell. As for a price scanner causing TS... it sounds like total bs to me.
  • Tourettes is genetic (Score:5, Informative)

    by SlightOverdose ( 689181 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:54PM (#31852846)

    Speaking as someone with a mild case of Tourettes, you can't just "Get" it. You're either born with it or not.

    However, many people with the faulty genes go through there entire life without noticing the symptoms until they experience a particularly stressful moment- at which point something "breaks" and it becomes a lot more severe.

    I cannot possibly fathom a supermarket price scanner burning someone (It's just not possible), however it's possible the girl believed it did, causing her enough psychological stress to trigger the Tourettes.

    However, if that was enough to set her off, she was going to get it pretty soon anyway with several years of stressful High School on the horizon.

  • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:07PM (#31852960) Journal
    I note that a trivial Google News search reveals that the case has already been dismissed: [], Associated Press [].

    Moreover, both of those reports were live hours before this story got greenlighted for the Slashdot frontpage.

    Slashdot: Yesterday's News for Nerds. Stuff that Mattered.

  • Re:Fire that Judge (Score:3, Informative)

    by socsoc ( 1116769 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:09PM (#31852978)

    You can also get a drunk person at a bar who failed chemistry to put salt on their hand and then put an ice cube on top.

    Not that I have any direct knowledge or anything...

  • Re:Fire that Judge (Score:5, Informative)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:21PM (#31853476) Homepage Journal

        I think you should clarify, flashing lights may trigger seizures in some people. They are people who already have a seizure disorder, not the random Joe who had no pre-existing condition.

        My step son had epilepsy. We didn't know until 6 months before he passed away because of it. After his first observed seizure we went to a pediatric neurologist, where they did a whole battery of tests, which did include flashing lights. He didn't have a seizure, but he was bored senseless watching the lights. What they were able to detect was that he did have a seizure the night before. They can read lingering signs of a seizure on an EEG.

        Unfortunately, and not commonly explained, is that seizures can cause spasms in any muscle, including the diaphragm or heart. He died during a seizure, which did stop either his breathing or heart. They couldn't conclusively say which, but when we found him, he was still frozen in the same position which was consistent with him having a seizure. I was a trained first responder, so I did everything I could until the paramedics got there. I disregarded the signs of rigor mortis. Lividity had just started (light signs of what appeared to be bruising on what was the lower part of his body). I performed CPR until they arrived about 3 minutes later. CPR on a training dummy is a lot easier than trying to save the life of someone you care about. They pointed out what I had already seen and ignored. At least I was a good witness, and was able to describe clearly what I had seen and done. I won't say I was unaffected, I just did my best to keep my composure while describing it to them for their reports. And oh are there a lot of people who want to talk to you after something like that. Official folks (law enforcement, child protective services, etc) were in and out for 3 days. They were very polite with us, it was just a formality in case there was something unusual about it.

        Sorry, this still effects me. It's only been a few years.

        Back to the topic, if it were to trigger a seizure, that would be a seizure, ranging from petit mal (aka absence seizure) where the person doesn't respond, to grand mal (tonic-clonic) where they fall down in convulsions. It would only happen in a person who had a pre-existing condition, and wouldn't cause a completely unrelated disorder. It is possible that she has both disorders, but that wasn't indicated in the article.

        Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. My first ex-wife suffered from petit mal seizures. Years later my step son (from my second wife) had grand mal seizures. I've listened to everything the doctors had to say when they were explaining the conditions and asked questions at the appropriate times to further educate myself.

  • Re:Litigation Land (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:26PM (#31853524)

    Richard Dawkins had a chapter on ethics, and I think he puts across a very convincing argument.

    At the risk of mis-summarising, the basic idea is:

    1) Humans everywhere of all religions have pretty much the same set of ethics.
    2) The bible has lots of 'ethics' that we don't follow. We don't stone our children for disagreeing with us, we don't treat women as property, and so on. Even Jesus treated women as second class citizens, yet most christians are above that.

    The most logical conclusion from these two bits of information is that ethics is a mixture of nature and nuture, and that we impose our ethics on shaping religion, and choosing the parts of the religion that we wish to believe in based on our ethics. Rather than the other way round.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:31AM (#31853894) Homepage Journal

    After the plaintiffs presented their case, the judge ruled for the defendant after a motion for no suit (meaning that the plaintiff has failed to present a case that can win, even undefended) from the defense. The sad part is that the defendant is still out money and time and a jury had a couple days worth of their life wasted just to get to that point.

  • Re:Grumpy (Score:3, Informative)

    by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @01:37AM (#31854286)

    Swearing is not Tourette's Syndrome, but rather coprolalia.

    I had to look that one up. It's a bit ambiguously worded. Uncontrollable swearing is not Tourette's Syndrome, it is uncontrollable tics (sudden, repetitive and non rythmic muscle movement or vocalisation). Coprolalia is the condition of uncontrollable profanity.

    This is interesting as I occasional get a "tic", sudden movement in my nose or eyebrow. I don't think it's Tourettes, in fact it's hardly noticeable anyone but me.

  • Re:Grumpy (Score:5, Informative)

    by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:42AM (#31854592)

    I hear ya man. My bro has Tourettes and has perfectly controlled speech, other than the occasional muted yelp. Tourettes is in some sense like an ultra nasty version of obessive compulsive, except with less hand washing, and more twitching.

    Living with it certainly requires one to develop bit of a sense of humor about it (and knowing when someone deserves a good punch in the mouth) . Its not a fun disorder, and yeah, nothing we know about its genetics (Gilles De Tourette gene complex on I *think* chromasone 18 (I think!)) , some tell tale signs in cerebral blood flow and EEG scans , and so on.

    The notion you can develop in neurotically from PTS is complete bullshit.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"