Friday Links

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We here at Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. hope that you all are enjoying the beginning of the July 4th weekend. In honor of the occasion, our offices are closed today. Above, you’ll find the cover of Roy Rogers and the 4th of July Bandits #1. We’re not certain of the plot, but it seemed like a somewhat appropriate cover for today’s edition of Friday Links. Fear not, we’ll find a better one for tomorrow’s post! If the website ComicVine is to be believed, this comic book was first published in 1990, many decades after the time we would have thought it would have been.

We hope everyone has a safe holiday weekend!

Our favorite legally themed tweet of the week focuses upon iTunes:

New Rockstar Lawsuit: Consuming Massive Amounts of Caffeine (x4) Allegedly Leads To Heart Attack

News from the energy drink litigation carousel: Rockstar Beverage Corporation has now been sued in Los Angeles Superior Court after a man allegedly suffered a heart attack after consuming one of its beverages. According to a report from NBC, Plaintiff Oscar Maldonado claims to have consumed up to four Rockstar beverages in a 6-8 hour period and subsequently developed shortness of breath and chest pains. Over the next three weeks, his symptoms worsened. He was eventually told by doctors that he was having a heart attack. Thereafter, he was taken in for an undisclosed surgical operation. Now, Maldonado alleges Rockstar is to blame.

The specific allegations against Rockstar are nothing new in the increasingly popular energy drink litigation. The suit alleges that Rockstar drinks rely on large quantities of caffeine, a “substance well-known for imposing health effects upon consumers” and “known to play a role in triggering adverse cardiac episodes.” In addition, Rockstar contains taurine, an ingredient that allegedly has a similar effect on the heart muscles. Of course, Maldonado alleges that if Rockstar had properly warned him of the risks, he would have never consumed the Rockstar drinks.

We here at Abnormal Use have often been critical of these energy drink suits. This one is nothing new. At this point, we assume (perhaps wrongly) that everyone on the planet understands that most energy drinks provide that desired boost of energy through the use of massive amounts of caffeine and that caffeine is not-exactly known as being heart-friendly. In fact, Maldonado seemingly admits as much in his complaint  As such, we question whether any warning would have actually had any affect on Maldonado’s consumption.

Given the admittedly known risks of consuming large amounts of caffeine, we wonder how Maldonado works around the fact that he consumed not one, but four, Rockstar drinks in a 6-8 hour period.  We assume his defense will be that while he knew that consuming large amounts of caffeine was hazardous, he did not know that consuming large amounts of caffeine (x4) could be hazardous enough to result in a heart attack. Alas, Rockstar definitely should have warned him of that, right? Sigh.

CSI: Chicken Tenders

Earlier, when we covered the KFC deep fried rat situation, we warned you to be skeptical, and at least for now, we were right. Apparently, Mr. Dixon, who made the allegations regarding the rat-looking chicken tender, did, in fact, retain a lawyer. That lawyer turned over the disgusting piece of chicken to KFC for an independent lab analysis, which determined that the breaded mystery meat was, in fact, chicken. Apparently, KFC now wants an apology.

So who won? Mr. Dixon was ultimately wrong, so we suppose that KFC technically won, but that is one ugly piece of chicken. We would think that KFC would take this time to apologize for serving chicken that so resembled a rat that an independent lab had to verify that it was, in fact, chicken.  If you want to find out more about these issues and KFC, you can click here, here, here, or here.

Old Songs, New Money – SiriusXM Settles Copyright Lawsuit

Sirius XM has resolved a piece of major litigation in its fight over its right to play pre-1972 recordings. In so doing, Sirius XM has settled with independent and major record companies for the satellite radio company’s alleged broadcasting of songs made before 1972 without permission and without paying royalties. The satellite radio broadcaster will pay $210 million to plaintiffs ABKCO Music & Records, Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, and Warner Music Group.

The dispute centers around the rights of artists and record labels to control the use of recordings made before 1972. What’s with 1972? Federal copyright law only protects sound recordings made after February 1972. Thus, rights and compensation for pre-1972 recordings is determined by certain state laws. Until recently, SiriusXM and many other radio stations paid nothing for the broadcast of these recordings.

The settlement provides a nationwide resolution for Sirius XM’s use of the plaintiffs’ pre-1972 recordings. Under the settlement agreement, SiriusXM will have license the covered songs through the end of 2017. After that, Sirius XM must negotiate with the record labels for use of the songs going forward.

The matter of pre-1972 copyright issues is not, however, completely resolved for SiriusXM.  It still faces an outstanding copyright lawsuit brought last year by the founders of the ‘60’s band, The Turtles.

GWB Calls For Removal Of Confederate Flag From South Carolina Statehouse Grounds

We have witnessed the tragic deaths of nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. joins the citizens of our state in grieving for the victims and their families.

Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. also stands together with Governor Haley, legislators, and community leaders in supporting the removal of the confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. The tragedy of these deaths will forever remain, but the removal of this divisive symbol from the statehouse grounds will promote harmony and stand as a legacy of remembrance of those slain.

Friday Links

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As we’ve often noted, it’s difficult finding legally themed comic book covers after doing so for more than five years. But we just found a new one involving Nick Fury! Above, you’ll find the cover of Nick Fury #7, published way, way back in 1964. “If he’s found guilty, it’s the firing squad for Nick Fury!” the cover proclaims. We suspect that Nick Fury was acquitted, or pardoned, as the series did not end at issue seven. We may need to find a copy of this one to be certain, though.

Rest in peace, film composer James Horner. If you’ve never heard the score for Krull or Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, please do so immediately. Here’s a fitting tribute that we found online this week.

Don’t forget! You can follow Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. on Twitter! You can find our profile here.

Speaking of Twitter, our favorite legal tweet of late comes from our editor:

Thoughts On The Charleston Shootings

In the early evening hours of June 17, 2015, a young white man walked into the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He sat down with a group of church members, including the church’s pastor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, also a South Carolina state senator, for Bible study. After listening to the discussion of Biblical principles, perhaps love and forgiveness, and maybe even praying together, the man stood up and began shooting the church members. According to one horrifying account, he reloaded five times, killing nine people, including Reverend Pinckney. According to some reports, he later told police that he almost did not go through with it because they were so nice. But, he killed them anyway.

All of the victims were black. Based on news accounts of the shooter’s racist views, that was not an accident. The shooter was quoted as saying he was there to “shoot black people.” He said, “You’ve raped our women and you are taking over the country.” Before leaving the church, he menacingly told one of the survivors to tell everyone what he had done. The shooter was later captured and charged with murder. He has reportedly confessed to the shootings. Federal authorities are investigating the shootings as a hate crime. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said, “The only reason someone would walk into a church and shoot people that were praying, is hate.”

In response to this tragedy, President Obama called for tighter gun control laws. Others have said that South Carolina should remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds as a tribute to the victims and their families. Yes, we should take the opportunity to talk about race relations and how such hatred can be harbored within the borders of our state. Yes, we should talk about our state’s policies and how they can be used to promote unity and not division. Yes, we should have a civil discourse on the meaning of this event.

But first, the citizens of South Carolina have taken to the streets! We have taken to the streets . . . to pray. We have taken to the streets . . . to hold hands. We have taken to the streets . . . in love and forgiveness. We have taken to the streets . . . in peace and unity. We have filled our churches and public halls . . . to honor the memory of the victims.

At the shooter’s bond hearing, victims’ family members said, “I forgive you.” Yes, they expressed their hurt and sadness, but they responded with an attitude of forgiveness. “May God have mercy on your soul.” “You hurt a lot of people, but God forgives you, and I forgive you.”

I am proud to call South Carolina home.

Abnormal Use and The Food Truck and Brewery Law CLE

If you’re in Charlotte, North Carolina, tomorrow, Thursday, June 25, you might be interested to know that our editor, Jim Dedman, has planned another food truck and brewery law CLE for that afternoon. That’s right! It’s called “Mobile Food Trucks: Public Health Laws & Regulations and Changes Brewing in North Carolina.” That’s quite a doozy of a title, but if you want to learn about food truck and brewery regulations in North Carolina, here’s your chance! Get this: The program, which begins at 3:00 p.m., will take place at the Sugar Creek Brewery in Charlotte. That’s quite a place!

If you’re interested, or if you’d like to register, click here!

The event is sponsored by the Mecklenburg County Bar Association.

CPSC Reacts to Tip-Over Hazard Phenomenon

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced a new educational campaign aimed at preventing furniture and television tip-over injuries and deaths.  According to the CPSC announcement, the program, dubbed “Anchor It!,” is designed to educate the public of the “hidden” dangers of tip-overs and to instruct on steps for tip-over prevention. “Anchor It!” consists of broadcast public service announcements, print ads, billboards, and an informational website (www.AnchorIt.gov).  In addition, the CPSC will distribute tip-over prevention cards containing the following helpful tips:

  • Buy and install low-cost anchoring devices to prevent TVs, dressers, bookcases or other furniture from tipping.
  • Avoid leaving items, such as remote controls and toys, in places where kids might be tempted to climb up to reach for them.
  • Store heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.
  • Place TVs on a sturdy, low base and push them as far back as possible, particularly if anchoring is not possible.
  • If purchasing a new TV, consider recycling older ones not currently used. If moving the older TV to another room, be sure it is anchored properly to the wall.

If these tips seem simple and obvious, it is because they are.  With the exception of the availability of anchoring devices, these tips are simply a reiteration of the laws of physics and gravity.  It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in Physics to understand what it means to be “top-heavy.”  Anyone who has ever stacked items on top of each other or driven an ’84 Ford Bronco II understands this.  Yet, the CPSC commissioned “Anchor It!” to make sure you really understand.  Bravo.

Nonetheless, we here at Abnormal Use actually applaud the CPSC’s efforts.  The program comes on the heels of a new lawsuit against IKEA alleging that Swedish furniture chain failed to warn of potential furniture tip-over.  (However, we assume the CPSC wheels were turning on the “Anchor It!” program long before.)  Typically, we would have expected the CPSC to take draconian measures in reaction to the IKEA suit and issue a recall for all vertical furniture (see, e.g. Buckyballs).  Fortunately, in this instance, the CPSC has elected to educate consumers on the exercise of common sense to prevent tip-over hazards rather than needlessly yank products from the stream of commerce.

KFC May Face Potential Lawsuit For Allegedly Selling Man A Fried Rat

If you have been paying attention to social media of late, you have no doubt heard about Devorise Dixon and his KFC rat.  If you are slightly braver, then you have seen the pictures, which can be found here.  And if you don’t have short term memory loss, then you are skeptical.

Recently, Mr. Dixon took to social media, posting the image of the rat and claiming, “I went to KFC bought a 3-piece chicken tender! As I bit into a piece of it I noticed that it was very hard/tough and rubbery! Which sent this deep chill throughout my body. I looked down at it and saw that it was a cooked rat!!! Made me feel sick! Never new chicken was shaped like rat’s and had tails! Bought this from KFC on Wilmington and 120th in the shopping center! WATCH WHAT YOU EAT PEOPLE ARE SICK OUT THERE!” [His typos, not ours.]

As all viral horror stories go, the story exploded.  According to Mr. Dixon, he received a fried rat in his chicken fingers order from a KFC in Watts, California.  Additionally, Mr. Dixon has claimed that KFC apologized to him and that the manager admitted he was served a rat.  Mr. Dixon believes “IT’S TIME FOR A LAWYER!!!”  He also encourages people to “BESAFE DON’T EAT FAST FOOD !!!” KFC took to Facebook and stated that it was investigating the matter and at this time had no evidence to support Mr. Dixon’s claim.  Additionally, KFC claims it is aggressively trying to reach Mr. Dixon.

Immediately, skeptics took to debunking Mr. Dixon’s claim, including this image, the poster of whic believes that the whole thing is bogus.  Regardless of whether or not his claims are bogus, Mr. Dixon has catapulted into Internet fame.  We will always remember Anna Ayala, who you will remember more famously for alleging that she found a severed finger in her Wendy’s chili. While we wait for this story to develop, check out this list of the 10 fast food lawsuits.