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Surprise: a term used to describe an unexpected or astonishing event.

Surprises come in all shapes and sizes, good and bad.

“Surprise! I played the lotto and now we’re multi-millionaires,” is generally considered an uplifting and positive revelation for the recipient of such glorious unexpected news.

But, “Surprise, you’ve got bone cancer!” is a sudden discovery that is far less pleasure-inducing.

And, of course, for some surprises, the ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ factor is entirely dependent upon the context of the situation.

“Surprise, I’m pregnant!” presents itself as a positive development in the life of a couple. Your family is growing. Great memories and good times ahead!

Consider, however, what happens when we follow the initial pronouncement of pregnancy with the phrase “And the baby is your father’s.” Our preliminary surprise is no longer a blessed event. It is now considered “just cause” for a bitter and nasty divorce.

Finally, we have the so-called “surprise party.” This surprise is a most controversial matter indeed – especially when the person for whom said “surprise party” is thrown is an individual who regularly suffers from panic attacks.

Kevin Berling of Kentucky is such an individual.

Good old Kev was innocently working his job as a lab technician at Gravity Diagnostics one day back in August of 2019.

This particular day happened to be Kevin’s birthday, prompting Berling’s colleagues to throw him a surprise office birthday party against his wishes. As a result, Berling suffered a panic attack from the unexpected jolt of joy.

The following day, company bosses held a meeting with Berling to ask about his extreme emotional response to the surprise party. As a result, Berling suffered a second panic attack.

Berling was fired from Gravity Diagnostics less than a week later on the grounds that bosses were “worried about him being angry and possibly becoming violent.”

This time, Berling didn’t panic. He filed a lawsuit seeking damages and compensation for lost income.

Last week, a jury awarded Berling a $450,000 judgment against his former employer.

No word on whether Berling returned any of the birthday gifts from his co-workers.