Litigation in the United States can often be a protracted affair. Some of the more complex cases may span decades before reaching conclusion. For example, the case of Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, has been pending for centuries without any real resolution. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the first Bigfoot case, David Thompson v. Squatch was first initiated in 1811 by British explorer David Thompson. Since then, the number of cases has snowballed and costly discoveryhas been conducted ever since by organizations such as the North American Wood Ape Conservancy.
Courts around the country have struggled with how to deal with Bigfoot. Some courts have implicitly acknowledged Bigfoot’s existence and have equated it to a contract. See Dumont Tel. Co. v. Power & Tel. Supply Co., C 13-3030-MWB, 2013 WL 4516428 (N.D. Iowa 2013) (“The contract at the heart of this case is a lot like Bigfoot . . .”). Some courts have taken a more traditional, strict constructionist approach to interpretation of Bigfoot. See, e.g., Doyle v. Commr., New Hampshire Dep’t of Resources &Econ. Dev., 37 A.3d 343, 345-46 (N.H. 2012) (“Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, is ‘a large, hairy humanlike creature believed by some persons to exist in the northwestern United States and western Canada. . . .’”) Other courts have engaged in what some would call judicial activism on the issue and have concluded that Bigfoot simply does not exist. Peracchi v. C.I.R., 143 F.3d 487, 491 (9th Cir. 1998) (“. . . negative basis, like Bigfoot, doesn’t exist.” ). In any event, trial courts need resolution on the issue once and for all so they can decide Bigfoot-related evidentiary disputes and the like. Park v. CAS Enterprises, Inc., CIV 08CV385 DMS NLS, 2010 WL 55888 (S.D. Cal. 2010) (“Ultimately, Park argues that there is no evidence the DB50 ever existed, and ultimately compares it to a ‘video of Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster, [where] actual proof of the DB50 is apparently impossible to capture on film.’”). When courts are this divided, a decision needs to be made.
South Carolina is not typically thought of as a bellwether state; however, the state may now have the opportunity to resolve the Squatch issue once and for all in the recent case of CSPRI v. Squatch. According to reputable news sources covering the case, “[e]vidence of Bigfoot’s existence has been found in Oconee County [South Carolina], according to the Carolina Society for Paranormal Research and Investigation.” Legal scholars are engaging in heated debate about whether this newly discovered evidence will be sufficient to withstand the inevitable summary judgment motion. In the state courts of South Carolina, “[s]ummary judgment is proper if, viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Preservation Capital Consultants, LLC v. First Am. Title Ins. Co., 2012-209186, 2013 WL 6091617 (S.C. 2013). So what is this bombshell evidence? Is it enough to present a genuine issue of material fact as to the existence of Bigfoot?
Apparently the Carolina Society for Paranormal Research and Investigation (CSPRI) first determined that the woods of Oconee County, South Carolina would be a “perfect place” for Bigfoot. They determined this based on the observation that Bigfoot constructed various “wood structures” and “nests” in the woods of Oconee County, and that footprints have been discovered which are “too large and wide to be normal human.” According to CSPRI, “intertwined [tree] limbs” were also a dead giveaway because, among other things, “a bear has no thumbs . . .” Presumably, although it is not explicitly set forth in any of the information proved by CSPRI, Bigfoot does in fact have thumbs.
My take: Since summary judgment is discretionary, this one is a toss-up. Evidence of Bigfoot’s existence has been presented. There does not appear to be a challenge to CSPRI’s methodology or qualifications, so the decision will hinge upon whether the weight of evidence presented is sufficient. Personally, I still have questions. Are these wood structures and nests, which were purportedly constructed by Bigfoot, currently occupied by a Bigfoot? There is no evidence in the record that Bigfeet typically build homes and then abandon them. Were they spec nests for which Bigfoot just couldn’t find a buyer? The footprints found in the woods are above-average size for human feet, but what is the average size of the foot on an average Bigfoot? Why is Bigfoot twisting around all of the tree limbs in our South Carolina woods? Is this destructive behavior typical of Bigfeet? As it stands, I do not believe that this is enough to withstand a motion for summary judgment.
Perhaps sensing the same, CSPRI has scheduled a “full-blown hunt” for Bigfoot on December 14, 2013. As additional discovery is already scheduled, the Judge may see the motion for summary judgment as premature and may revisit the issue after the full-blown hunt.