During Halloween, we here at Abnormal Use pondered the potential tort claims present in all of those horror movies. With Christmas nearly upon us, we got to thinking. Although this month may not pose the dangers of the Halloween tort season, certainly, it is not a vacation from the law. Christmas, like Halloween, can also be a plaintiff’s dream.
Let’s start with the obvious: gift giving. Unfortunately, gifts cost money. What can happen when people don’t have money? Theft. Or as tort lawyers like to call it – trespass to chattels (or conversion). Earlier this month, a California man was arrested for stealing Christmas presents from an elderly couple. If convicted, he may face jail time and a tort suit.
Christmas is the season to be jolly, but all is not always so. Anytime family and friends gather, things are bound to get eventful. Just last week, a woman was arrested in New Zealand for biting off another woman’s fingernail at a work Christmas party. We are not well versed in Kiwi law, but we imagine this constitutes a battery worldwide. Not exactly what one wants from Santa.
Annually, we contemplate a nuisance claim against the local mall for incessant Christmas music in November. Some inmates in Phoenix had a similar idea against their prison, but, unfortunately, those claims were unsuccessful. Maybe we should instead target our neighbor’s tacky yard decorations. After all, is it truly necessary to display an inflatable Harley-riding Santa in the front yard?
Speaking of Santa, he may be the biggest holiday tortfeasor of them all. The man enters billions of houses year after year but never faces a trespass claim. Sure, he has permission from many property owners, but he must be unwanted somewhere. Why bother anyway? We imagine it would be nearly impossible to select an impartial jury.
Unfortunately, as Clark Griswold can attest, torts do not take a sabbatical over the holidays. We imagine there are plenty that we have overlooked.
We welcome your comments on any you come across as you enjoy the holiday season.