What to do about “All Natural” Chips?

According to the Chicago Tribune, a New York man has sued Frito Lays in a proposed class action claiming that the “all natural ingredient” labels on the company’s Sun Chips and Tostitos products are deceptive. According to the complaint, the chips contain ingredients derived from genetically modified corn and oils. Further, the plaintiff alleged he paid an additional 10 cent “premium” for the chips over their Doritos counterpart. The plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $5 million.

The case is captioned Shake et al. v. Frito Lay North America, Inc., No. 12-408 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 30, 2012).

These allegations raise a couple of pertinent issues. First, can the plaintiff really claim that he paid a premium for “all natural” chips?  For many, a ten cent premium may seem trivial.   We here at Abnormal Use appreciate the desire to purchase organic or all-natural foods. In doing so, we expect to pay a premium.  However, we would expect these premiums to far, far exceed the 10 cents alleged by the plaintiff.  Ever try purchasing organic milk for 10 cents more than its non-organic counterpart?  When faced with the decision of purchasing two bags of chips, one “all natural” and one not, we doubt a 10 cent differential in price is a deciding factor in the process. In fact, we might not even notice the difference in cost.

Second, to our knowledge, the Food and Drug Administration has no definition for “natural” as it applies to food labels.  Of course, it may be difficult for the FDA to define such a term.  What is “all natural” anyway? Certainly, the phrase can be left to varying interpretations.  Should “all-natural” be restricted to plants grown without the use of pesticides?  Or should the definition go further?  Apparently, the plaintiff’s beef with Frito-Lay is that the company uses organisms genetically modified in a lab by swapping genetic material across species.  It is unclear whether the allegations stem from the “genetic modification” itself or that the modification itself which occurred in a lab.  Genetic swapping occurs naturally all the time.  We can not even begin to count the number of products we enjoy on a daily basis that were created as a result of “natural” genetic swapping.  Are these products considered “all natural”?  Where do we draw the line?

The desire to eat foods the way they were intended is a noble feat.  However, we shouldn’t be so quick to dispose of the advances of modern science.

Let’s not be so quick to pass judgment on new plant species created by the marvels of modern science. Who knows, maybe we are on the brink of the new “natural”?

Happy Valentine’s Day from Abnormal Use

As lawyers, we are a sanguine and cynical bunch, but we don’t really have to be, do we?  Sure, we may believe that the most unreasonably dangerous and defective product in our life is our own heart, but we can vanquish those thoughts from our mind today, Valentine’s Day.  Accordingly, we here at Abnormal Use wish you a wondrous and resplendent day.  Yes, Valentine’s Day may be a greeting card holiday, one seized upon by chocolatiers and flower sellers and would-be purveyors of happiness.  But, if we can pretend for a lunar cycle that we remain actual human beings and not just toiling attorneys at law, that may not be such a bad thing after all, eh?

So, without further ado, Happy Valentine’s Day to you and whoever is your special someone.

Oh, and depicted above is the cover of Star Wars: A Valentine Story #1, published by Dark Horse Comics not so long ago in 2003..  You can see that even intergalactic heroes face their own dilemmas on this day. Of course, our question is this: If the events depicted in Star Wars occurred “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” how do they even know about Valentine’s Day?  Another George Lucas plot hole, we suppose.

And, of course, you should revisit last year’s Valentine’s Day post – featuring not one but two comic book covers – here.

Gas Can Litigation = Big Business for Plaintiffs Firms

I’ve handled products cases involving a wide spectrum of products, from residential gas grills to tractor-trailer components.  Frankly, I enjoy the variety and the opportunity to learn about new industries and products and meet the people who are associated with them.  I understand, however, that many lawyers – especially plaintiffs’ lawyers – often focus on one product.  It gives them the ability to develop and expertise on a certain subject and, as a result, handle more cases because of their familiarity.

I spoke with a plaintiff’s attorney recently who files a lot of litigation on behalf of plaintiffs allegedly injured by portable gas cans.  Although we didn’t speak at length about the issues involved with the particular product, he mentioned something about an inexpensive component part that prevents fires but was not readily incorporated into the cans themselves by the manufacturers.  A simple Google search on “gas can litigation” revealed that many plaintiffs’ attorneys actually list this type of litigation on their websites as a distinct area of would-be expertise, proving what the lawyer had impressed upon me: that gas can litigation is big business these days.

I ran across the recent case of Murray v. Traxxas Corp., — So. 3d —, 2D10-3789, 2012 WL 279657 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Feb. 1, 2012), which appears to illustrate my colleague’s point.  The facts of the case are relatively simple.  Two boys were trying to build a fire using leaves, sticks, and a cigarette lighter at their grandparents’ house so they could roast marshmallows.  They had trouble lighting it, so they searched for an alternative fuel source.  What they found in the garage was a portable gas tank containing gasoline.  As one of the boys tipped the open gas can toward the pile of leaves and the lighter, before any fuel spilled out of the can, an explosion occurred.  One of the boys sustained severe burns as a result of the explosion.

Witnesses who looked at the gas can after the accident, including a fire inspector, described the can as looking “bowed out.”  Photographs were taken by the inspector, but the can was disposed of by the grandparents, who believed it still posed some danger.

Inevitably, a battle of the experts ensued; it focused on whether a “flashback” explosion had occurred.  The plaintiffs’ expert argued the can was defectively designed because it did not have a so-called “flame arrestor,” an inexpensive component that would have prevented such an occurrence.  According to the expert, “flame arrestors are readily available on the market and have been incorporated by other manufacturers into similar fuel cans,” and by not incorporating one into this particular can, the manufacturer defendants were negligent.

The defendants moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted on the grounds that the can itself had not been maintained for inspection and testing.  As the appeals court remarked, the disposal of the gas can gave rise to two particular problems for the trial court.  First, there was no way to tell whether the original fuel was in the can, or whether it had been replaced by a different fuel.  Second, the trial court held, the plaintiffs could not meet their burden of proof to show design defect because the can itself could not be tested. The court of appeals didn’t see it the same way.  It noted that the plaintiffs had proven an unbroken chain of custody for the can and its contents.  Furthermore, the court observed, it was unlikely that the original can could have been tested at all after the damage it sustained in the explosion and, in any case, similar cans could be tested because the manufacturer had been positively identified.  The appeals court reversed the summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings.

We don’t yet know the outcome of this case, but from a plaintiff’s attorney’s position, this litigation is pretty savvy.  Here is a product that, allegedly, can be made safer with a very inexpensive device.  That, combined with the potential for serious burn injuries and property damage from cans without the device makes it a pretty attractive piece of litigation. Defense lawyers should be aware of these arguments when defending these cases and prepare for them accordingly.

Friday Links

Behold! Above you’ll find an image of an old Dell comic book featuring Disney’s own Mickey Mouse! It appears that our hero has donned the garb of a private detective, and he’s even gone so far as to post an advertisement hawking his services as a “Private Eye for Hire.” Perhaps he is even assisting local law firms investigate their clients’ potential claims and defenses. Let’s hope, though, for the mouse’s sake, that he has complied with all state regulations and properly secured his state-issued investigator license.  We can certainly imagine a situation where Mickey Mouse is deposed and vigorously cross examined about his failure to comply with the state’s licensing scheme.  Poor Mickey.

In response to yesterday’s post observing the tenth anniversary of our editor Jim Dedman’s graduation from Baylor Law School, friend of the blog and Baylor lawyer Eric Nordstrom sends in this YouTube movie clip noting the significance of the passage of a decade.  It’s a clip from the 1997 flick Grosse Pointe Blank,  a film we couldn’t love more, so we direct you to itww. on this day.

Earlier this week, we ran not one, but two posts on the perils of social media and how your advocate opponents might use it against you in the future. As you may have seen, our editor Jim Dedman had a general piece on the issue, while guest author Stuart Mauney offered a real life example of his own Facebook posts being used against him at a mediation by an opposing attorney. These posts prompted some discussion in the legal blogosphere. We’re happy to report that Bruce Carton at Law.Com’s Legal Blog Watch picked up on the story. We encourage you to visit his post and peruse his readers’ comments.

Don’t forget: You can follow Abnormal Use on Twitter at @gwblawfirm and on Facebook here. (In fact, check out our GWB 2.0 website for all of our social media endeavors as a blog and law firm.).

Ten Years Ago Today: Dedman Graduates From Baylor Law School

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use often pause to reflect upon sentimental anniversaries.  We can’t help it.

Today, we offer this piece on the tenth anniversary of my graduation from Baylor Law School.

It was February 9, 2002, in Waco, Texas, when I graduated from law school, ten years ago today.

First things first, yes, I graduated from law school in February.  This is due to the fact that Baylor Law School, which runs on quarters rather than semesters, occasionally prompts an odd graduation date.  So, there I was, in February of 2002, preparing to graduate and take the February bar exam later that month.  That’s just the way we roll at Baylor University.

I had always enjoyed my time at Baylor Law.  A relatively small institution, it boasted a total of 450 enrolled students at the time of my graduation a decade ago.  When I started at Baylor Law in May of 1999 (another unusual start date, due to the quarter system), I had only 30 or so students in my starting quarter.  You always hear the stories of cutthroat classmates at larger schools; but this was not the case at Baylor, as the school was simply too small for anyone to get away with such antics.  Really, there was an unusual esprit de corps in the student body, brought about both by the size of the institution but also the shared looming dread of Baylor’s very difficult third year curriculum (a mandatory year long advocacy and civil procedure program known as Practice Court).

For the occasion of my graduation, my parents, my brother, and even some friends, trekked to Waco.  Few of them had previously visited my fair city. Most only knew the town because of its relatively recent notoriety from the Branch Davidian standoff just a decade before.  But we all met at the brand new Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center, which had just opened a few months before in the fall of 2001.  (In the late 1990s, Baylor Law alum Walter Umphrey, a famous Plaintiff’s attorney from Beaumont, Texas, gave a $10 million gift to Baylor to fund most of the new building. There is a dash of historical irony in the funding source, as Baylor has traditionally been defense oriented in its legal philosophy but its palatial new building was funded mostly by a trial lawyer’s mighty gift.). However, in 1999, I began my legal education in the old Morrison Hall.  At that time, the administrators of the law school knew that they would soon be building a brand new law center, and so, most funds were earmarked for that purpose and general upkeep of  old Morrison Hall was – shall we say – not the highest priority.  It wasn’t until August of 2001 that the new building would be completed and opened.

In the autumn of 2001, the new law center was immense, immaculate, and quite simply, amazing.  So new was the building, in fact, that there were no televisions in the public areas of the building on September 11, 2001.  Many students sat in the student lounge by the radio, of all things, listening to the news in the same way people must have on December 7, 1941.

So it was, in February 2002, that we congregated at nearby Miller Chapel on the main campus for the graduation ceremony. Twenty six of us graduated that day, and the commencement speaker was Professor Gerald Powell, who taught me both Evidence and Advanced Evidence.  Just a few months before, in November, at the new law center’s first graduation ceremony, Umphrey himself was the commencement speaker. But Powell was someone all the graduating students knew well, as he had taught them all.  I had been his research assistant and in 2001 wrote a paper for him on the admissibility of email and Internet evidence, new topics back then.

Powell’s speech was weighty and very well received. It was just a few months after 9/11, and that tragedy was on every0ne’s mind.

That day, he said:

You can no longer focus on just yourself, on your career, or even on just your own family.  More will be asked of you.  As Americans, and especially as lawyers, you will carry with you great responsibilities.  After September 11, each of you must be willing to stand guard over our liberty, to serve your country selflessly, and, if the need arises, be a hero.

Each of us must take our turn as sentinels.  And as lawyers we have our own post to man.  Our watch is over the Constitution.  Our perimeter is the outposts of liberty.  Our weapon is the law.  Our mission is to see that justice is done.

[W]e also hope that each of you will have inside of you that seed of heroism perhaps dormant until a moment of truth, when it will spring forth in the energizing light of adversity to give us the hero we need.  And until that time comes, or whether it ever comes, we hope and pray that you will act heroically in the conduct of your everyday lives, professional, public and personal.

The speech was later circulated by email to those in attendance, likely by Baylor Law’s unofficial historian, Eric Nordstrom, who would graduate later that year.

After a reception at the law school, but before that evening’s festivities, I had a bit of free time, so my younger brother, Bert, and my old pal, Alistair Isaac, and I decided to do the one thing that I had never done in Waco but had always wondered about doing: visiting the remains of the infamous Branch Davidian compound.  In the late 1990′s and early 2000′s, and probably today, one cannot attend school in Waco and not be asked constantly by friends from other cities if you have visited “the compound.”  Prior to my graduation, I never got around to doing so, but it seemed like an appropriate final quest on the day of my graduation, my last official day as a student in the city.  So, we found a set of directions on the Internet (which are still online today!) and ventured out to find the compound.  I drove my 2000 Honda Civic with Bert and Alistair as passengers, and we followed the directions, but somehow, along the way, we found ourselves lost.  This was rural Central Texas.  We were in an area of large fields, farms, and farm houses.  There were not many commercial establishments at which to stop and ask directions.  In fact, as we slowed the car to look for places to ask for assistance, we saw one house with a large sign on it which exclaimed simply “Don’t ask!”  We took that advice.  A few minutes later, we drove past a field in which a farmer was plowing or riding a horse or doing something along those lines.  My brother hopped out of the vehicle and walked toward the man.  Before my brother could utter a word, the man said simply, “You’ve already passed it.  Go back a mile or two and take the left that you missed.”

How about that?

Even in February of 2002, the compound was no longer the structure you might recognize from the 1993 media coverage. There was a tree orchard planted to commemorate those who had not survived the standoff.  There was some minor portion of the housing structure still in place, but not really enough to recognize it for what it was.  On some level, the visit was anticlimactic; after being asked about the compound for all the years that I lived in Waco, it was just a field of sorts with a handful of derelict structures.  We saw a burned out passenger bus at the scene, which we later learned was the result of vandalism years afterward and not the standoff itself. (Alistair and I thought the old bus had something very cinematic about it, but that’s a different story for a different day). And that was basically it for the compound.  We returned back to the city and readied ourselves for the evening to come.

Later that night, we congregated at George’s Restaurant, a local watering hole that has been memorialized in Texas country songs in part for its Big O’s, large, very large glasses of beer.  The whole graduating class was there, as were many other friends and students, and I suppose that was the last time we were all together in the same room before scattering off to different corners of the world.

And that was ten years ago today.  At that time, I was 26 years old, having just reached that age a month before in late 2001.  My concept of being a lawyer was not completely uninformed, as Baylor focuses on the practical components of legal education (a topic we’ve discussed here on occasion).  Although I am confident that on that day I never paused to reflect upon what my career would be like ten years later, I certainly would not have predicted that I would be 1,000 miles away from Texas in North Carolina. But here I am.

It’s funny where life takes you.

So, what does it all mean? Like all the others who graduated that day, I’ve been a law school graduate for a decade.  For those of us who began and developed our careers during that time period, almost everything has always been online – whether it be treatises, the laws and statutes themselves, cases and orders, law review articles or other such things.  And, of course, as time has progressed, they have only become more accessible, with the advent of laptops, wifi, and of course, iPad apps.  However, unless graduates have been particularly lucky, trials have not been in abundance.  The older lawyers talk about the days in the 1970s when you could get called to court on a moment’s notice to try a case unexpectedly.  But those pesky discovery rules we learned in law school arm clients and advocates with enough information to accurately gauge exposure, and thus, trials can be (and are regularly) avoided.  There are fewer surprises, and the days of trial  by ambush are long in the past.   It’s a different world than the one our professors and bosses knew when they graduated.

The legal blogosphere came along just about ten years ago and facilitated great discussion about the (major and incredibly minor) issues of the day – which is a great boon to the profession.  But, really, when I look back at the last ten years, I don’t face some existential dilemma as to what might have been had I not become a lawyer.  Rather, I am reminded of the fun moments that the career has afforded me.  There are silly moments, and there are meaningful ones.  Most enjoyable are those moments, at a deposition, hearing, or trial, when you realize that your preparation and hard work are about to pay off and that no one else in the room has realized it yet.  That feeling, that sense of accomplishment and victory, moments before you officially prevail – is what makes being a lawyer fun and interesting.

This is not to say that every day offer such moments.  There are those weeks that we spend in faraway places reviewing documents in old warehouses without air conditioning.  There are long drives and long waits in airports and courthouse hallways.

But in the end, we realize that one appeal of this profession is that it is different every day.  There are new challenges to face with every case and every hearing and deposition.  Although fewer and fewer cases go to trial these days, we must remain vigilant and prepare in case the one we are working on at present does go that route. And that’s something I learned way back in Practice Court at Baylor Law.

(Special thanks to Jerri Cunningham, the Baylor Law School registrar, for confirming some details for me and forwarding me a copy of Professor Powell’s speech).

Burned at Mediation by My Own Facebook Post!

The day after we run a post about one being impeached by one’s own social media, I, as a guest author here,  had to step in and offer up my own thoughts on that very subject. I use Twitter and LinkedIn for business purposes. If you ever want to know how I use them, I would be pleased to share that with you.  I can share some success stories, and perhaps some helpful hints, if you are so inclined. I do believe some form of social media should be in every lawyer’s marketing toolbox. But it is just that: one tool among many.

I am also on Facebook. I have some 400+ “friends.” I rarely turn down a friend request. I enjoy it. I have fun posting things and engaging in online conversations about the issues of the day. I typically do not post work related material – I only do so when the firm or one of our lawyers receives an award or honor.

But there are dangers to this type of interaction, and I was burned recently by a Facebook “friend.”

I recently mediated a case with a familiar Plaintiff’s attorney. The case had been around for a year or so. A month before the mediation, the Plaintiff’s lawyer sent me a request to be his friend on Facebook. As I  am often inclined to do ,  I accepted it. I have many lawyer Facebook friends – even some plaintiff lawyers.   I learned that the Plaintiff’s lawyer in my case had posted several items about our case – not naming the lawyers or clients – but just random things. The morning of the mediation, he posted that he was mediating a case in which the “powerful corporate defendant” had “mocked and disrespected” his “disabled”  client.

Sigh.

During the mediation, the Plaintiff’s lawyer opened by saying that he did not think we were taking his client’s case “seriously.” In apparent support for that position, he actually projected onto the screen one of my very recent Facebook posts about my plans to celebrate my fiftieth birthday. (Yes, I recently turned 50.) The Plaintiff’s lawyer said, “Maybe he was ready for this mediation last Wednesday before he started celebrating his weekend birthday, but . . . .” His sentence trailed off as if to suggest his doubt. He also commented that I had not been to any of the depositions in the case, as if sending my  experienced senior associate to the depositions was in poor from.   The associate was handling it under my close supervision.  (By the way, we had sent the mediator a statement ahead of time and had prepared a booklet of material to share with the other side and the mediator to be used in the mediation.). The mediation ended unsuccessfully.

So there you have it – my personal Facebook post used against me in my own mediation. I have now defriended this Plaintiff’s lawyer.

Perhaps I will defriend other lawyers in the future – I don’t yet know. But it’s now a dilemma. Some of you will take great pleasure in pointing out how this is why one shouldn’t have a Facebook account. I don’t see it that way, of course, but it is certainly a reminder of the perils of social media.

Will My Advocate Opponent Impeach Me With My Own Legal Social Media?

As we’ve previously mentioned, our editor Jim Dedman is now contributing one monthly post to the North Carolina Law Blog.  Last week, his fourth submission was published at that site.  The topic: “Will My Advocate Opponent Impeach Me With My Own Legal Social Media?”  Do we bloggers and Twitter users face risks in engaging in Internet commentary?  Might some of our opinions or blog posts come back to haunt us?  Might an Internet savvy advocate quote our own posts against us in some future case?

Well, let’s not get too worried about that.  Here’s how his post begins:

At a recent conference at the North Carolina Bar Association headquarters in Cary, I heard a new and much more interesting critique of legal blogging.  A seasoned litigator panelist suggested that whenever she is to appear in court against another lawyer, she always investigates whether that opponent maintains a law blog.  If so, she will scour and scrutinize those posts to see if her opponent has ever taken a position opposite to the one advanced against her in the case at hand.  If she finds evidence of such, she can alert the tribunal that her opponent has taken a contradictory position on the relevant law in the past when writing, presumably objectively, on a legal blog. This is, for lack of a better term, impeachment in court by one’s own law blog.  Ouch.

But this does not seem to be a risk of legal blogging specifically but rather communicating one’s ideas and views generally.  For decades and decades and decades before the advent of legal blogs, lawyers delivered speeches, made presentations to trade and legal groups, and authored law review articles.  Sure, that may have been before everything was neatly placed online, easily searchable, and simple to locate in seconds, but there have always been ways in which one lawyer can find the writings of another if that lawyer knows where to look. Like most things, though, that task has been made far, far easier in the digital age, though it could be done before.

There’s more, so click here to read the rest.

In the end, Jim concludes there’s probably not an increased risk simply because one is blogging.  But, in all such things, beware nonetheless.

Dealing with the Anxiety of Pfizer’s Birth Control Pill Recall: A Flowchart

On February 1, Pfizer — the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer — announced a recall involving a million packages of birth control pills. According to the company, some pills were packaged improperly in terms of the sequence they should be taken in; some pills contained excessive amounts of the active ingredients; and in some cases, some pills did not contain enough active ingredients. Statistically, few, if any, unplanned pregnancies will occur because of these circumstances.

However, we here at Abnormal Use expect that this announcement may cause some readers to experience anxiety. A lot of anxiety. Some folks may even be tempted to freak out. Well, don’t. You can spend your time and energy worrying about hypotheticals, sure; or you can refer to our handy flowchart — which we made just for you — to help you evaluate your risk and work through your anxiety. Why would we do this for you, you ask? It’s because we love you, our faithful readers. So, without further ado, let’s move to the chart:

Step 1: Determine if this is your pill. The pills in question are: (1) Lo/Orval-28 tablets; and (2) its generic equivalent, Norgestrel and Ehtinyl Estradiol tablets. The affected packages have expiration dates between July 31, 2013 and March 31, 2014.

Is this your pill?

A. If No, great. Go on about your life.

B. If Yes, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: In the past month, have you actually relied on your pill for contraceptive purposes?

A. If No, immediately stop reading this blog. Go to www.match.com. Create a profile and shamelessly lie about yourself. Hurry now! Time’s a-wastin’.

B. If Yes, are you being honest?

1. If No, please refer back to Step 2A. And stop lying. It’s not helping your game.

2. If Yes, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: In theory, are you at least comfortable with the thought of being pregnant?

A. If Yes, proceed to Step 5B & C.

B. If No, proceed to Step 4.

Step 4: Freak out. Seriously, freak out. I mean, you’re in no position right now to be a parent. You’ve got stuff you want to do. You’re not responsible enough for a kid. You can barely take care of yourself! How are you going to take care of a kid? Oh man, oh man, oh man. What are you going to do? Unghhh gahhh!

[Continue to work yourself up until you’re making a scene, then proceed to Step 5.]

Step 5: Alright, shut up. Shut. Up. Pull yourself together. You’re embarrassing yourself. Geez. Ok? Ok? Alright. Everything’s going to be fine. Ok? Here’s what you do:

A. Start trying to make a deal with God. It can’t hurt.

B. Go see your doctor and get an exam.

C. If you can’t get in to see your doctor, take an at-home pregnancy test.

Step 6: If you get an exam or pregnancy test, and—

A. You’re pregnant, and—

1. You’re comfortable with being pregnant, CONGRATULATIONS!!! We’re so happy for you!

[Provided you were not knowingly committing pill fraud against your significant other. That is no laughing matter. Shame on you.]

2. You’re not comfortable with being pregnant, freak out again. Seriously, it’s ok. This is a big life change. But once you’ve freaked out for a little while, collect yourself and make the best of the situation. There’s a great deal of support and assistance out there for folks just like you. You’re not alone.

B. You’re not pregnant, and—

1. You were comfortable with the idea of being pregnant, maybe it’s time to go off contraceptives . . . ?

[Provided you do not commit pill fraud against your significant other. Seriously. No laughing matter.]

2. You did not want to be pregnant, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Now, go celebrate. Responsibly. We’re going to be really disappointed if you’re back looking at this flowchart come Monday morning.

Friday Links

If you’re reading this site, you already know that we here at Abnormal Use are huge Internet nerds, and of course, that love of such things extends to Twitter. (An aside: Don’t forget, you can follow up on Twitter at @gwblawfirm). Well, our editor had his 15 minutes of Twitter fame this week when one of his tweets was read on national television on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” You see, at some point last week, the online team for “This Week” asked the show’s viewers to submit questions for the show to be read by Mr. Stephanopoulos (who was vacationing last week and replaced for the day by ABC’s Jake Tapper). Viewers were encouraged to ask questions relating to the issues of the day and use the hashtag #askgeorge. Well, our editor couldn’t resist, and the most important question he could muster was the one you see above: “Why isn’t George F. Will on Twitter?” And as you see above, this past Sunday, “This Week” broadcast that tweet on national television!  Not only did they do that, they took the question to George Will, whose reply is below:

Said he: “I don’t think in 140 characters, but in 751 word chunks.”

He’s, of course, referring to newspaper column link, but interestingly, as some observed, his reply was less than 140 characters.

You may not think this is as cool as we do, but if you do, you can watch the episode in question on the ABC News website. Click here for the online version of the 1/29 episode and fast forward to 46:45 in the video. You’ll then see the tweet itself and the discussion thereof.

And, alas, if you’re bored with today’s discussion of Twitter and political talk shows, don’t worry, we’ll return to legal themed comic book covers next week.

Groundhog Day

Well, it’s Groundhog Day, again. We here at Abnormal Use are immense fans of the Bill Murray film by that name (and in fact, our editor even saw it at the theatre as part of a pre-release sneak preview!).  One thing we litigators can enjoy is the fact that each day presents a new challenge.  On Tuesday, it’s the deposition of a Plaintiff in a products case. On Wednesday, it’s a hearing on this, that, or the other. On Thursday, it’s a mediation.  On Friday, it’s something entirely different, maybe trial.  So, unlike Phil Connors in Groundhog Day, we can usually avoid the quotidian monotony depicted in the film and be thankful that every day is, usually, quite different from the one before.

Happy Groundhog Day from Abnormal Use.