John Stossel

But even that wasn't enough to appease these "victims." Margaret Marks said, "I got awful sick." Her co-worker, Claudia Cinquanti, said, "I had to bring her to the emergency room."

So the workers demanded the county make the photocopies elsewhere and keep them in storage for at least 24 hours. The county agreed, and moved all of the new carbonless paper forms into a separate storage area.

But even this wasn't sufficient, said the workers. So the county built them their own special room with its own huge ventilation system, bringing in filtered air from the outside. They installed two air purifiers.

Were the workers finally satisfied? No. They sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, demanding $800 million.

So the county offered to renovate an entire wing of the building, give the new wing to the complaining workers, and move other employees out.

Not enough! the workers told me. "I am going back to work for Tompkins County, whether they like it or not," said one. "I don't care if they have to build a new building. They're going to accommodate me or they are going to pay."

Lonny Dolin, Tompkins County's lawyer, said, "We ripped out all of the carpeting in your rooms. We built you a scientific room. And you won't come back to work because now you say a simple Xerox paper makes you sick. That's not accommodations. They just say, fix the whole building. Make it perfect or blow it up, whatever."

The workers' lawsuits were eventually dismissed, but the legal battle cost the county a fortune.

I say the real victims were the taxpayers.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate