Posted 1 year ago

More Ridiculous Case Premises

Pillars v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Plaintiff sued tobacco company after finding a decomposed human toe in his tobacco.

Sharkey v. Moneypenny-Sharkey

Plaintiff claims he is a vampire.  He was a 2008 Presidential candidate as a member of the Vampire, Witches, and Pagan Party.  Brought action against ex-wife after she “hit him with his Star Wars lightsaber and continued to roleplay on the internet with other men.

United States ex rel. Mayo v. Satan & His Staff

Plaintiff sues Satan for placing deliberate obstacles in his path and deprived him of his Constitutional rights.

Posted 2 years ago

Who says court opinions have to be dry?

Somewhere in between the cases distinguishing contingent and vested remainders and the cases determining whether a random court in the US has personal jurisdiction over some random foreign country, we have funny cases where a judge writing the opinion has decided to have a bit of fun.

That takes us to Cordas v. Peerless Transportation Co.:

The set-up:

“This case presents the ordinary man - that problem child of the law—in a most bizarre setting.  A lowly chauffer in defendant’s employ he became in a trice the protagonist in a breath-beating drama with a denouement almost tragic.”

The plot thickens:

“The chauffer in reluctant acquiescence proceeded about fifteen feet, when his hair, like unto the quills of the fretful porcupine, was made to stand on end by the hue and cry of the man despoiled accompanied by a clamorous concourse of the law-abiding.”   

“The hold-up man sensing his insecurity suggested to the chauffer that in the event there was the slightest lapse in his obedience to his curt command that he, the chauffer, would suffer the loss of his brains.” 

“There are those who stem the turbulent current for bubble fame, or who bridge the yawning chasm with a  leap for the leap’s sake or who “outstare the sternest eyes that look outbrave the heart most daring on the earth, pluck the young suckling cubs from the she-bear.”

It wouldn’t be complete without a quote about Hamlet!

“It is the philosophic Horatio and the martial companions of his watch were ‘distilled almost to jelly with the act of fear’ when they beheld ‘in the dead vast and middle of the night’ the disembodied spirit of Hamlet’s father stalk majestically.”

And finally, the… holding?

“To call him negligent would be to brand him coward; the court does not do so in spite of what those wagering heroes, ‘whose valor plucks dead lions by the beard,’ may bluster to the contrary.”

Posted 2 years ago

Batman, Booger, and Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins

Legal cases with ridiculous party names:
  • United States v. 11 1/4 Dozen Packages of Articles Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo-Fly Powders for Drunkenness, 40 F. Supp. 208 (W D.N.Y. 1941) 
  • United States v. Eighteenth Century Peruvian Oil on Canvas Painting, 597 F. Supp. 2d 618 (D. VA 2009).
  • I Am The Beast Six Six Six of the Lord of Hosts in Edmond Frank MacGillivray Jr. Now. I Am The Beast Six Six Six of the Lord of Hosts IEFMJN. I Am The Beast Six Six Six of the Lord of Hosts. I Am The Beast Six Six Six of the Lord of Hosts OTLOHIEFMJN. I Am The Beast SSSOTLOHIEFMJN. I Am The Beast Six Six Six. Beast Six Six Six Lord v. Michigan State Police, et al., File No. 5:89:92, 1990 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8792 (W.D. Mich. July 12, 1990).
  • State v. Big Hair, 955 P.2d 1352 (Mont. 1998).

  • Batman v. Commissioner, 189 F.2d 107 (5th Cir. 1951), cert. denied 342 U.S. 877 (1951).
  • Death v. Graves, CGC-06-451316 (filed Apr. 17, 2006) 
  • Schmuck v. United States, 489 U.S. 705 (1989).
  • Hamburger v. Fry, 338 P.2d 1088 (1959).
  • People v. Booger2010 N.Y. LEXIS 3511 (N.Y. 2010).

  • United States v. 2,116 Boxes of Boned Beef, Weighing Approximately 154,121 Pounds, and 541 Boxes of Offal, Weighing Approximately 17,732 Pounds726 F.2d 1481 (10th Cir. 1984).
  • United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins, No. 05-56274 (9th Cir. Mar. 17, 2008).
  • United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls, 413 F. Supp. 1281 (D. Wisc. 1976).
  • Goodman v. Dicker, 169 F.2d 684 (D.C. Cir. 1948)
Posted 2 years ago

You’re Invited to a Kindergarten Party!

In response to improperly served subpoenas which were “overly broad and unduly burdensome”, a judge from the US District Court for the Western District of Texas- Austin Division, extended the following order/invitation:

Greetings and Salutations!

You are invited to a kindergarten party on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1,2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 2 of the United States Courthouse, 200 W. Eighth Street, Austin, Texas.

The party will feature many exciting and informative lessons, including:

  • How to telephone and communicate with a lawyer

  • How to enter into reasonable agreements about deposition dates

  • How to limit depositions to reasonable subject matter

  • Why it is neither cute nor clever to attempt to quash a subpoena for technical failures of service when notice is reasonably given; and

  • An advanced seminar on not wasting the time of a busy federal judge and his staff because you are unable to practice law at the level of a first year law student.

Invitation to this exclusive event is not RSVP. Please remember to bring a sack lunch! The United States Marshals have beds available if necessary, so you may wish to bring a toothbrush in case the party runs late.

Posted 2 years ago

Crunchberries Don’t Have Berries and Froot Loops Don’t Contain Froot?!

The Crunchberries Case

Plaintiff Janine Sugawara sued Cap’n Crunch Crunchberries because she thought they contained real berries. Quote from the court opinion:

"The Court is not aware of, nor has Plaintiff alleged the existence of, any actual fruit referred to as a "crunchberry"… The survival of the instant claim would require this Court to ignore all concepts of personal responsibility and common sense."

Case dismissed.

Sugawara v. PepsiCo, Inc., No. 2:08-cv-01335, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43127 (E.D. Cal. May 21, 2009)

The Froot Loops Cases

Evidently there is something confusing about the name “Froot Loops” that has led multiple plaintiffs to bring claims against Kellogg because they thought they contained real fruit.  The court opinions all read similarly: A reasonable person would not read the word “froot” as containing real fruit because “froot” is not a real thing and fruit does not come in ring shapes. 

Videtto v. Kellogg USA, 2009 WL 1439086 (E.D. Cal. 2009) ; McKinnis v. Kellogg USA, 2007 WL 4766060 (C.D. Cal. 2007).

Read more about these cases here:

Posted 2 years ago

Rule 8(a), in a Limerick!

According to Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain … a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief …”

In response to a 341-page complaint that was filed (complete with a 8-page-long title), Washington Federal Court Judge, Ronald Leighton, concluded his court opinion with a limerick:

Plaintiff has a great deal to say,
But it seems he skipped Rule 8(a).
His Complaint is too long,
Which renders it wrong,
Please rewrite and refile today.

Who says judges don’t have a sense of humor? 

Posted 2 years ago

Some people sue over strange things…

After my first week of law school, I realized what strange premises some of the cases I had to read have.  So I’ll start posting some funny ones as the semester goes along.  First, 2 about intentional torts:

Garratt v. Dailey

Facts: Ruth Garratt sued 5-year-old Brian Dailey for allegedly pulling out a chair from under her when she was about to sit in it and fractured her hip. 

Holding: Found Dailey guilty of battery. Awarded her $11,000.

White v. University of Idaho

Facts: White brought a suit against her piano teacher for battery when he put his hands on her back to demonstrate the “light touch” a piano player should use when playing.

Posted 2 years ago

And for those Schoolhouse Rock fans, a video simplifying the types of hearsay exceptions!

Posted 2 years ago

In the spirit of simplifying legal concepts, here’s a cartoon about the Miranda Rights that tells the story of how 1 man was the reason why people are now read their rights when they’re arrested.

Posted 2 years ago

Uncovering the Truth about the International Academy of Beijing

It was a combination of these three e-mails that led me to make the decision not to take the teaching job at the International Academy of Beijing after all.  Who do you believe?

From the Founder of the International Academy of Beijing, 3 weeks after they said they were submitting my worker’s permit information:

Dear Stephanie

Thank you for your information. I am very pleased to hear that you still have a concern for the job at IAB. First of all, IAB HR need your information (Resume, signed contract with Dr. Yang, Photocoty of Certificate of your graduation) for the considerring of your job at IAB. IAB HR did not have any infor about this. Dr. Yang and his daughter already left school(were fired), he made school confused to new teachers. He disguised head of school and communicate with you after dismissal… If you want to come to IAB, please send above mentioned information.

Ben-Hur Lee Founder and Chairman of school board

From the man who claimed to be headmaster:

Phil YangDear Ms. Stephanie Tang,

It is with great sadness to let you know that we can no longer invite you to IAB. My family and I invested our money, passion and our expertise in global education to IAB. Unfortunately, the current legal representative of the school, Ben-hur Lee, has failed to fulfill his legal contract with us.  Not only did he commit fraud, but he also embezzled a large sum of the school fund, as we found out while we conducted the due diligence on the school.  Furthermore, he both verbally and physically threatened me and my family.  I filed penal cases against him for his illegal and fraudulent behaviors, and I regret to inform you that we will no longer be able to invest in the school.

My family and I wanted to re-build IAB together with you as a truly global education institute in Beijing.  I tried to save the school and persuade Ben-hur Lee to fulfill his legal contract with me; my family and I even went to Beijing almost every week to speak with him and relevant government officials.  He, however, physically threatened me and even threatened to kill my daughter and sister, should they ever come back to Beijing.  I cannot invite you to join IAB, when I know that your safety might be at risk.  The decision to forgo IAB not only damages me financially, but it also brings tremendous damage to me and my family’s reputation. Regardless of our loss, my main concern is your safety and wellbeing.  I wish you best of luck in your future endeavors.

Sincerely Yours,
Phil Yang

From the Assistant Vice President of the Association of Christian Schools International (the organization that granted IAB its accreditation):

David Wilcox, Assistant Vice President of ACSIStephanie:

The 2011-2012 school year was very difficult for the owner, administration and faculty of the school.  It has been reported that most families have left and are enrolling at a new school. It is reported that many if not most of the faculty were fired near the end of the year.  It is also reported that most teachers were not paid from May-July, and I have received correspondence accusing the owner of financial malpractice.

ACSI has not been able to verify these accusations as of this time. If the school has not responded to you and done all it claimed it would to assist you in acquiring a visa for China, it might be able to be asserted that the school has breached the contract.  The contract is with the school, not the administrator. ACSI will be reviewing the accreditation status of the school in the coming months.  

Depending on the adequacy of the school’s response, the school’s accreditation status will come under review.  I find it very difficult to recommend this school based upon the many allegations of mis-treatment of faculty and former administrators. Working at this school would be a risky venture based upon our knowledge of the events of this past year. I am not making any definite recommendation, nor am I offering legal advice, but you do need to be aware that last year was a difficult year for the school, and ACSI is monitoring the actions of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in regard to the school’s accreditation.  ACSI will follow the lead of WASC in this regard, as they have been able to visit the school in the past few months.

David K. Wilcox, Ph.D. Assistant Vice President - Global
Association of Christian Schools International

For more reading on the school: