Friday Links

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Above, you’ll find the cover of Superman & Savage Dragon: Chicago #1, published not so long ago in 2002. The plot, according to Comicvine, is as follows: “When Superman’s greatest foes leave their native Metropolis and join Chicago’s notorious criminal organization, the Vicious Circle, the call is put out for the Man of Steel to save the day.” (We hope that Supes had the opportunity to shop at Reckless Records while he was in the Windy City.). Whatever the case, we bring this cover to your attention today because our editor is in Chicago today attending the DRI Product Liability Committee Fly-In planning meeting. If you happen to find yourself at the same meeting today, please be sure to say hello!

Apropos of nothing, here is a link to a rejection letter that U2’s Bono received from a record label in May of 1979.

If you handle minor settlements in the State of South Carolina, you may want to review this new order from the South Carolina Supreme Court.

FYI: GWB attorney Luanne Runge, Immediate Past Chair of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, has been named a 2014 South Carolina Super Lawyer in the area of Business Litigation.  For more information, please see here.

Don’t forget! You can follow Abnormal Use on Twitter here and on Facebook here! Drop us a line!

“Why Are You A Lawyer?” – A Young Lawyer’s Response

I was recently offered the opportunity to help with iCivics day, which involves attorneys visiting local schools to talk with students about the framework of our country’s democracy.  As part of the iCivics day briefing, we were told that students may ask a variety of personal questions, including how much money lawyers make, why we decided to be a lawyer, et cetera.  The “why did you decide to be a lawyer” question jumped out at me and prompted a period of self-reflection.

I finally decided that the answer to that question is not simple, and that there are a variety of reasons.  One thing is certain: I am not a lawyer because of money.  Do I appreciate the fact that lawyers may earn more than members of some other professions?  Yes. However, I have found that money is not a good motivator, standing alone. When money is the only motivation for something, it will inevitably lead to demotivation and burnout.

So why am I a lawyer?

I am a lawyer because I genuinely enjoy helping people and solving their problems.  Our firm, at least in my practice areas, typically represents companies.   Even before the recent and much discussed judicial decision making it official, I have always enjoyed the fact that corporations are (and are founded, made up of, and act through) people.  People by nature occasionally need help.  Whether it’s the employee in a panic because something he has done has put the company at risk or the owner motivated to protect his company’s proud reputation, I welcome the opportunity to take ownership of their problems in order to find a solution.

I am also a lawyer because I love the courtroom.  I love everything about the courtroom.  I love the formalities of the courtroom, the magic words, the judge’s robe, the gavel, and everything else that makes the courtroom a courtroom.  I recently argued a motion in a makeshift temporary courtroom that looked more like a multi purpose room at a school than a courtroom.  I liked that, too.  Some courtrooms are nicer than others, but I like them all, mainly because of what happens in them, which brings me to my next point.

I love the adversarial process.  I love investigating facts, taking depositions, arguing motions, and otherwise working hard to protect my client from whatever the party on the other side of the “v” is seeking to recover.  Of course, trial is where all of this hard work ends up under the spotlight, and that’s my favorite part of the adversarial process.  I love the various ways that lawyers try to connect with members of the jury.  I love the feeling of being prepared.  Most of all, I love cross-examination.  To be honest, it is truly my favorite thing about practicing law.  I love catching people in fibs. I love asking a difficult opposing witness a question with my back to the witness stand while making eye contact with the jury.  It is a great feeling to be the one asking the questions, but I even love watching someone else cross examine a tough witness.  A great cross examination is a beautiful thing.

Despite the lawyer jokes and occasional smear campaigns in the media, good lawyers do a great service to the community.  Whether a lawyer is representing someone charged with a crime, or whether a lawyer is closing on a house, the lawyer is tasked with ensuring that the law of the land is followed and respected.   That alone makes it a noble and important profession.

Bad Cinnamon Rolls Bring Out The Worst In Us – A South Carolina Tale

Recently, we here at Abnormal Use lamented the tales of those who elect to air their defective food product grievances over 911 calls rather than more traditional methods. As much as we may detest the use of 911 in non-emergency, defective food situations, such things are  preferable to a recent incident at a South Carolina Burger King. According to a report from the Post and Courier, a Burger King customer threatened to shoot employees over a stale cinnamon roll. Guns and breakfast food. You can only imagine our disbelief upon hearing that this incident occurred in our home state. If your were thinking that there must be more to this story, you would be mistaken. Apparently, the woman complained that her BK-made cinnamon roll was served at less than its optimal freshness, only to be told that the roll was the only one left. She then left the store, only to return later with her hand stuffed in her purse, threatening to “shoot everyone.” Employees called 911 (appropriately), and she fled the scene.

Like this woman, we, too, are fans of cinnamon rolls. There is no better way to start your day than with cinnamon and cream cheese frosting. We understand the woman’s frustration upon discovering stale dough has ruined her breakfast. Violence, however, is not the answer. Apparently, this woman has never seen Falling Down, as this approach didn’t work out so well for Michael Douglas.

If you receive food that is not served to your exact specifications, complain if you must. Just leave guns – and 911 – out of it.

Rabid Dogs and Expensive Coffee Allegedly Have 2,000 Decillion Things In Common

A Manhattan man, Anton Prisima, has reportedly filed suit against New York City, Hoboken University, LaGuardia Airport, the MTA, and “thousands more people,” including “Latina Dog Owner” and “Kmart Store 7749.”  Apparently, the nature of the lawsuit is just the standard dog bite/coffee overcharge case, or as categorized by Justia, “other civil rights.”  Mr. Prisima seeks $2,000 decillion in monetary damages.

Mr. Purisima “claims that his middle finger was bitten off by a ‘rabies-infected’ dog on a city bus, then a ‘Chinese couple’ took photos of him as he was being treated.”  Separate and apart from those allegations, Mr. Prisima has joined several defendants in the suit based on the fact that “he’s routinely overcharged for coffee at LaGuardia Airport.”  We assume that this is a permissive joinder situation.  If not, Mr. Purisima may have a Palsgraf issue.  In any event, as a result of these wrongs,  Mr. Purisima seeks the modest amount of money mentioned above, in additional to “additional damages that ‘cannot be repaired by money” and are ‘therefore priceless.'”

Good thing Mr. Purisima cast a wide net to bring in as many deep pockets as possible, considering the fact that it is not possible to raise the amount of money he seeks even if the defendants are somehow able to sell the Earth and everything on it for scrap.

(Hat tip: Lowering the Bar).

Memorial Day

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Above, you’ll find the cover of The ‘Nam #77, a 1993 issue from the comic book series dedicated to telling the stories of the Vietnam War and published by Marvel in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. We here at Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. hope you, our dear readers, had a safe and fine Memorial Day weekend. As we do each year, today, we pause to reflect upon all of the sacrifices made by American servicemen and women and all they have done for the country, both in present times and years past. We encourage everyone to visit the Twitter feed of television journalist Jake Tapper, who is tweeting photographs and biographical information of fallen soldiers.

Note: Three years ago, on Memorial Day 2011, we posted the cover of the first issue of The ‘Nam, which you can see here.

We’ll resume with regular posting tomorrow.

Friday Links

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Above, you’ll find the cover of Mr. District Attorney #64, published many, many years ago, and to be honest we can’t quite figure out what’s going on. Surely, whatever is happening, the title character has lost his prosecutorial immunity, right?

Okay, so this Swedish warning label for matches is pretty, uh, specific.

Perhaps we could purchase this piece of real estate that is now for sale and use it for our unofficial Abnormal Use headquarters? Any thoughts, dear readers?

Our editor, Jim Dedman, got a fine shout-out in a Steinbeckian post over at the Drug and Device Law blog. The post in question, “Travels with Bexis,” can be found here.

Tara E. Nauful and Dawn M. Hardesty offer this article entitled Dischargeability of Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy. Wouldn’t that be nice?

You really should pause and read this opinion in Morland-Jones v. Taerk from a Canadian court. The judge apparently had little patient for the affluent litigants and their dispute as neighbors. Here’s an excerpt: “There is no claim for pooping and scooping into the neighbour’s garbage can, and there is no claim for letting Rover water the neighbour’s hedge. Likewise, there is no claim for looking at the neighbour’s pretty house, parking a car legally but with malintent, engaging in faux photography on a public street, raising objections at a municipal hearing, walking on the sidewalk with dictaphone in hand, or just plain thinking badly of a person who lives nearby. There is no serious issue to be tried in this action.” Of course, Kevin Underhill of the always funny Lowering The Bar humor blog on the case, so you must read his commentary here, as well.

Everyone, please have a safe holiday weekend!

Gator Infestation Not Exxon’s Problem Says Mississippi Supreme Court

Let us begin by saying the facts of this Mississippi “wild alligator nuisance case” (as described by the Mississippi Supreme Court) are truly terrifying and are basically a reptilian nightmare. Tom and Consandra Christmas purchased a tract of land adjoining a waste disposal site owned by Exxon.  They later discovered that Exxon’s property contained EIGHTY-FOUR ALLIGATORS.  As it turns out, the Mississippi agency responsible for regulating wild alligators investigated the infestation and concluded that this was “a high density of alligators to exist in the wild.”  We here at Abnormal Use thankfully do not have a tremendous amount of experience with alligators, but it appears that the agency’s observation was astute.

Allegedly, some of these alligators were spilling over onto the land owned by the Christmases, so the Christmases filed suit against Exxon, seeking monetary damages for the nuisance created by the alligators.  The trial court granted summary judgment based on the statute of limitations and the prior trespass doctrine, but the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and remanded.  The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and affirmed the trial court, but on different grounds.

The Mississippi Supreme Court found that Exxon was entitled to summary judgment “because it cannot be held liable for the presence of wild alligators on its property.”  In so holding, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that there was no evidence that Exxon was responsible for bringing the gators to the property or that Exxon had taken control of the gators.  In fact, Exxon could not legally do anything to the gators without the permission of the Mississippi agency responsible for regulating alligators.

Was this the correct result?  We at Abnormal Use decline the opportunity to weigh in on the holding, but one thing is for sure – we would probably find somewhere to live besides property adjacent to an alligator infested waste disposal site.  That, or we would erect an elaborate electrified fence system to keep those prehistoric, toothy creatures on Exxon’s property.

(Hat Tip: Law360).

Five Toe Discount – A Conclusion To The Vibram FiveFingers Suit

Back in April of 2012, we blogged about the class action lawsuit filed against Vibram over its product FiveFingers, the minimalist running slippers.  In our initial blog post, we (read: a fellow contributor who admitted to owning two separate pairs of barefoot running shoes) were skeptical over the evidence proffered by Plaintiff in this case.  However, a 2013 study found an increased in bone marrow edema, the precursor to a stress fracture, in at least one bone after 10 weeks of running in the Vibram foot-gloves.

After two years, the suit has come to resolution. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Vibram has agreed to pay $3.75 million in refunds to anyone who has purchased the shoes since March 21, 2009.  Vibram is required to take out ads on social media sites notifying potential claimants of the settlement and also establish www.fivefingerssettlement.com. The remaining proceeds not doled out to claimants will be donated to the America Heart Association.

Porsche Faces New Suit Arising Out of Death of “Fast and the Furious” Star

Late last year, Fast and the Furious star Paul Walker passed away when the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT in which he was a passenger left a roadway and crashed into a light pole and three trees. Using surveillance footage and the car’s computers, Los Angeles County investigators determined that the vehicle was traveling 80 to 93 mph – up to twice the posted speed limit – when it crashed and burst into flames. The investigators found no evidence of mechanical failure; however, they believe 9-year old tires may have contributed to the crash. Kristine Rodas, widow of the car’s driver, Roger Rodas, has a different theory. Rodas has filed suit against Porsche, alleging that the car crashed and caught fire as a result of a failure in its suspension system and a lack of proper safety features. The suit claims that the vehicle was only traveling 55 mph, but Porsche “designed and manufactured the Carrera GT defectively, causing it to fail to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when used in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner.” In addition, Rodas claims that the Porsche lacked a properly functioning crash cage and a proper racing fuel cell.

While it is too early to determine whether it is Rodas or the L.A. County investigators who are correct, several aspects of this case are intriguing. First, Roger Rodas was an experienced race car driver. On the one hand, his experience could be a sign that the vehicle would not have crashed but for some defective condition. On the other, it could also explain why he felt he could drive the vehicle in a manner far too aggressively for normal road conditions. Second, the suit alleges that the vehicle was originally designed to be a Le Mans race car before being turned into an ultra-high performance super-sports car. We have to wonder whether these were post-manufacture modifications which could effect this product liability suit. Interestingly, this suit focuses on alleged deficiencies with parts fit for a race car, rather than recreational vehicle. Had this accident happened during Le Mans, then maybe we could more easily understand the alleged problems with the racing fuel cell or crash cage. We question whether those parts would have come into play if the vehicle had been traveling the posted speed limit.

We here at Abnormal Use, like many others, consider the Fast and the Furious franchise one of our guilty pleasures. As such, the news of Walker’s death was particularly troubling. This is a lawsuit we to which will be paying close attention.

Trial by Combat – Musings Prompted By “Game Of Thrones”

Spoiler alert! For “Game of Thrones” fans, it was an interesting twist when Tyrion Lannister recently balked at a plea deal and demanded trial by combat in the criminal proceeding to determine whether he killed King Joffrey. This got us thinking: what exactly is trial by combat?  We here at Abnormal Use have become fascinated with the concept, and our editor couldn’t stop tweeting about it last week (as is evidenced by his tweets here, here, here, and here).

Well, after some research, we learn that it’s “a concept attributed to the Normans in the Middle Ages wherein disputants would square off and battle it out. The one left standing would be declared the victor.”  Obiter Dicta, 89 ABA J. 12 (March 2003). Trial by combat “essentially resolves all legal disputes by pitting the parties against one another in a no-holds-barred fight to the death. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the person who is not dead is deemed the prevailing party.”  Apparently, our modern civil trials evolved from trial-by-combat.  See Capers G. Barr III, Prepare for the Peacemakers, 7 S.C. Law. 21, 22 (JULY/AUGUST 1995) (“Buried in the recesses of the trial lawyer’s psyche is an awareness that modern trials evolved from a more primitive form of dispute resolution—trial by combat.”); Parham v. State, 250 So. 2d 613, 614 (Ala. Crim. App. 1971)(“A trial is an adversary affair drawing much of its etiquette from medieval trials by combat”). How about that?

A little over a decade ago, a citizen of the United Kingdom demanded a trial by combat to settle a £25 fine for a minor traffic ticket.  Reportedly, the accused filed a request “to take on a clerk from Swansea with samurai swords, Ghurka knives or heavy hammers.”  The request was denied. According to a recent Time article, trial by combat is is arguably still an option in the United States.  The rationale behind the trial by combat argument is that in 1776, the American colonies adopted the British common law, which provided for trial by combat.  British common law abolished trial by combat in 1819, but the United States has never expressly abolished it. Something to consider when you’re drafting your next answer to a pleading . . . .
(By the way, we’re not the only ones who were tweeting about trial by combat recently. Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Dillard offered a few tweets on the subject here and here.).