5-speed listening (Level 6)

Man sues New York City for $2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000



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There is a phrase in English when someone gets a big salary that they earn "telephone numbers". A man in New York is suing the city (and others) for so much that it is almost impossible to think of a comparison. Anton Purisima, 62, is suing for two undecillion. Over 99.99 per cent of English speakers would not know or have heard of the word for this amount. That astronomical figure is two undecillion dollars – a two followed by 36 zeros. The only people who are likely to need this word are probably astrophysicists and astronomers. Two undecillion dollars is, in fact, more than all the money in the whole world. Even more than all the wealth created throughout humankind's entire history.

So what did New York City do so wrong to be sued for such a mind-bogglingly gargantuan sum? Quite a lot, it seems. The New York Post reports that Mr Purisima is suing the city (as well as two local hospitals, LaGuardia Airport, the transportation system, a bakery and even a dog owner) for "civil-rights violations, personal injury, discrimination in national origin, retaliation, harassment, fraud, attempted murder, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy to defraud". Why? Well, it's because last month a "rabies-infected" dog bit his finger on a city bus; then, a "Chinese couple" took photos of him without asking; and to add insult to injury, he is routinely overcharged for coffee at LaGuardia Airport.

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