Friday Links


Okay, so, above, you’ll find the cover of Captain Marvel #39, published way, way back in 1975. The “deadly verdict” referenced on the cover is that in the trial of The Watcher, a cosmic being who, well, watches all other life in the universe. We weren’t certain why he was on trial, so we investigated, and we learned the following:

Uatu the Watcher is put on trial among his race for his interference in several Earth affairs.

Not very specific, eh?

Apparently, it’s a felony to poach venus fly traps in North Carolina. How about that?

You can still vote for Abnormal Use in the ABA Journal‘s Blawg 100 poll! To do so, click here (and you can find us in the “Tort/Consumer” category). We would very much appreciate your support.

Don’t forget: You can follow Abnormal Use on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Drop us a line sometime, will you?

Our favorite tweet of the week is the one below from Ted Frank. If you are a regular reader of our Friday Links posts, you’ll get why we like it:

The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case, The JFK Assassination, And Expert Witness Dr. Charles R. Baxter

As you know, we here at Abnormal Use often, perhaps incessantly, have written about the Stella Liebeck McDonald’s hot coffee case. Today, we revisit that case not to discuss its merits or legacy, but to remark upon one of history’s interesting twists. No matter your position on the issues presented by the Liebeck case, this is an intriguing historical tidbit.

At its essence, the Liebeck case was a products liability case in which the Plaintiff alleged that the hot coffee at issue was, by its very nature, “excessively hot” and “manufactured defectively due to excessive heat.” In her suit, the Plaintiff alleged that she sustained “severe and painful burns” which resulted in “skin grafting, debridement, and general recovery from painful scaring, as well as pain and discomfort associated with drawn and tight skin in the scarred areas, which pain and discomfort persists at the present and will persist into the future.” Obviously, as a result of alleging such claims and injuries, the Plaintiff needed some expert medical testimony to establish her claims.

The Plaintiff designated Dr. Charles Baxter, a medical doctor as her “burn specialist.” At the trial, Dr. Baxter opined that coffee served at 180 degrees was simply too hot and the ideal range for a coffee’s temperature to be served was between 150 and 160 degrees.

Dr. Baxter has an interesting resume.

Check out this excerpt from a March 13, 2005 Associated Press obituary which appeared in The Washington Post following Dr. Baxter’s death that year;

Charles L. Baxter, 75, one of the doctors who tried to save President John F. Kennedy after he was shot in Dallas on November 22, 1963 died March 10 at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas where he had been a professor emeritus of surgery since 1993.

That same day, Dr. Baxter operated on Texas Governor John Connolly.

With respect to his experience on burns, Dr. Baxter’s experience was summarized by the AP as follows:

Dr. Baxter developed a formula for burn patients, referred to as the Baxter Burn Formula or the Parkland Burn Formula. He discovered that patients with large, severe burns need tremendous amounts of fluid the first day of treatment, especially during the first eight hours.

Dr. Baxter also founded a tissue bank at Parkland Hospital to provide skin grafts for burn patients.

According to the Texas Medical Board, Dr. Baxter received his medical license on August 14, 1954. This means that at the time of the Liebeck trial, which took place on August 8-12 and 15-17, 1994, he had been a licensed medical doctor for 40 years to the day. Oh, and here is a link to Dr. Baxter’s testimony before the Warren Commission.

Abnormal Use Named To ABA Journal’s Blawg 100

We’re very proud to announce that Abnormal Use has once again been honored by the ABA Journal by being named to the Blawg 100, the annual list of top legal blogs in the country. Congratulations go out to our bloggers, Nick Farr, Rob Green, Kyle White,  Batten Farrar, Lindsay Joyner, Jessica Waller, and Janice Holmes, without whom this honor would not be possible. Mills Gallivan and Stuart Mauney also contributed posts this year. We are also thankful to our firm, Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A., for all of its support. Believe it or not, this is the fifth time in a row that our blog has been named by the ABA Journal to the Blawg 100, and as such, we are now in the ABA Journal’s Blawg Hall of Fame (along with 29 other stellar legal sites).

And, of course, we thank you, our dear readers, for coming to visit us here when you are able.

As they have done in past years, the ABA Journal is now asking its readers to pick their favorites of the blogs named to the Blawg 100. In light of that, we would humbly request that you support the blog and vote for it on the ABA Journal website. To do so, you first need to visit the ABA Journal website by going here:

You will be prompted to register with the site, a task which will only take a brief moment or two. To do so, click on the “Click here to register now!” link.

Once you register, you will be asked to “Click here to vote now in the Blawg 100.” Once you click on that link, you’ll be taken to the voting page.

Scroll down to and click on the “Tort/Consumer” category.  Therein, you’ll find our blog, and just click on the “Vote Now” button near the Abnormal Use entry and you’re done. It’s that simple.

Thanks again for all of your support. We very much appreciate it, and we’re looking forward to bringing you more material in the new year.

At Least It’s Not Miracle Whip – The Coming Mayonnaise Wars

In full disclosure, we here at Abnormal Use have never tried Hampton Creek’s vegan mayo-like product, Just Mayo.  However, we can almost assuredly tell you that it, like many other vegan substitutes, doesn’t taste as good as the real thing.  Traditional mayonnaise is supposedly a rather simple condiment to make: oil, egg yolks, and vinegar or lemon juice.  However, the vegan wizards over at Hampton Creek have managed to remove eggs from the process by adding other ingredients including the delicious “pea protein” and ever vague “spices.”

Last month, Hellman’s owner, Unilever, brought suit against Hampton Creek for false advertising.  According to Hellman’s Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo is not mayonnaise at all because it doesn’t have eggs.  The FDA’s really specific and not that interesting definition of mayonnaise  requires “one or more of the egg yolk-containing ingredients.”  Further down, the regulation provides that the name of the food is “Mayonnaise.”  According to Unilever, Just Mayo does not taste or perform like real mayonnaise. (link)  Therefore, according to Unilever, Just Mayo is damaging the entire mayonnaise product category, has already caused consumer deception and serious irreparable harm, and is stealing market share from Hellman’s.

While the packaging does feature a picture of an egg on the bottle, it also provides that the product is egg free.  Just Mayo is not the only vegan spread to include the mayo name, and Hampton Creek’s CEO has stated that the name just rolls off the tongue.

While this lawsuit rages on, Unilever is apparently strengthening the egg-less mayo’s brand.  Hampton Creek claims that the lawsuit has given Just Mayo nearly $21 million dollars of free advertising in the first week alone.  We will openly admit that Hampton Creek’s product is not for us, but we can’t say that we are not curious.

For a more detailed review of the lawsuit and Unilever’s claims, check out One Green Planet’s article.  Given the name of the website, we would take the article with an organic grain of salt.

The Dark Knight Won’t Share His Likeness With European Soccer Team

According to a report from Sports Illustrated, La Liga football club Valencia will abandon its new logo following an objection from DC Comics.  Last week, Valencia filed a trademark application for its re-designed bat logo.  DC Comics filed an objection to the application, claiming that the logo looked too similar to the crest of the Dark Knight himself.


As you can see, the two logos are similar in that they are both black in color and resemble a bat.  Beyond that, we here at Abnormal Use fail to see how the proposed logo will cause much confusion.  We seriously doubt the Valencia logo, with its soft lines and rounded ears, would strike much fear in Gotham’s criminals.  Certainly, even though the most amateur Batman fan could easily point out the differences.

An interesting component to this trademark suit is trying to decipher just which Batman logo Valencia is allegedly infringing. The Batman symbol has evolved over the years.  The comparison (shown above) used by Sports Illustrated and other media outlets reporting on the story compares the Valencia logo to the Dark Knight logo released in 2008.  Perhaps DC Comics’ complaints would make more sense had they focused on the logo from the 1999 “Batman Beyond” animated series:


At least with the 1999 logo, the wings are in the same position as that of the Valencia logo.  This trademark lawsuit would be one we could understand. In any event, Valencia has used a bat in its official team crest since 1922.  The City of Valencia has incorporated a bat in its coat of arms for even longer.  Batman didn’t emerge until 1939.  The bat logos for each have undergone a number of changes through the years, but for whatever reason, this is the first time DC Comics saw a problem.

Friday Links


Above, you’ll find the cover of Superboy #8, published way, way back in 1950. It’s not technically a Thanksgiving comic book cover, but we like to think that it could be. After all, Superboy is in the kitchen using his x-ray vision to learn the secrets of the coming meal. We here at Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. hope you all had a pleasant Thanksgiving yesterday. If Facebook is any indicator, then everyone we know seemed to enjoy preparing – and photographing – their turkeys and pies and meals and whatnot.

Friend of the blog Eric Rowell is not a fan of the “shop small” movement.

Here’s some light reading: If you’re sick of hot coffee cases, try the McDonadland lawsuit (which dealt with the McDonald’s characters). Was Grimace deposed? (Hat Tip: Popehat).

Did anyone venture out into the world today to shop, or did you cower in fear at home? We here at Abnormal Use chose the latter.

Have a great holiday weekend, and we’ll see you on Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving from Abnormal Use!


We here at Abnormal Use and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. wish you a safe and festive Thanksgiving. To celebrate the occasion, we direct you to the cover of Slimer! #10, published way, way back in 1990. Slimer, as you may recall, is the ghost who “slimes” Bill Murray’s character in the hotel hallway in Ghostbusters. How the wraith earned his own comic book series years later we have no idea. Whatever the case, please enjoy your turkey and tryptophan this weekend.

“You Drawin’ Me?” ‘Goodfella’ Sues ‘The Simpsons’

Actor Frank Sivero, who played Goodfellas character Frankie Carbone, is suing Fox TV Studios, 21st Century Fox America, and “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening for $250 million.  He claims that the show’s creators based one of the mob characters from “The Simpsons” on his likeness without his permission.  The character, Louie, is a part of Springfield’s Mafia that originally appeared on the show more than two decades ago. Sivero alleges that he had contact with some of the writers for “The Simpsons” in 1989 when they all lived in the same apartment complex in Sherman Oaks, California. According to the complaint:

During this time, both writers knew who Sivero was, and they saw each other almost every day. They knew he was developing the character he was to play in the movie Goodfellas, a movie Sivero did in 1989. In fact, they were aware the entire character of ‘Frankie Carbone’ was created and developed by Sivero, who based this character on his own personality…. Just one year later The Simpsons went on to base one of their “Wise Guy” characters on the character ‘Frankie Carbone’…

Sivero’s suit alleges that the defendants violated California laws regarding publicity rights, misappropriation of ideas, and misappropriation of likeness.  He claims that as a result of these wrongful acts, the value of the character he created was diluted and that it contributed to his own “type-casting” as an actor.

This will likely be Plaintiff’s Exhibit A:

$40 Million Settlement Over Junk Advertisements

If there’s something people pretty much unanimously hate, it’s junk mail and telemarketing.  So if you are going to get into the business of unsolicited advertising, it is probably a good idea to make sure you know the ins-and-outs of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other applicable federal laws.  Interline Brands Inc., who allegedly sent out improper fax advertisements from 2007 to 2011, is learning this lesson the hard way after paying $40 million to settle claims against it.

The TCPA and the Junk Fax Act prohibit sending unsolicited advertisements to any fax machine unless the recipients have “established business relationship” with the sender.  Even where there is an established business relationship, any fax advertisements must have opt-out provisions. The TCPA gives private citizens the right to sue and recover the greater of actual monetary damages or $500 in damages for each junk fax.  That $500 dollars can add up quickly.

The lawsuit filed against Interline Brands was a class action suit that started by the Craftwood Lumber Company in Illinois.  The complaint (available here) alleged that Interline Brands sent out 735,000 facsimile transmissions in direct violation of federal law.  The transmissions allegedly included advertisements that did not comply with the TCPA opt-out notice requirements.  Although Interline Brand has settled the lawsuit against it for $40 million, it has denied any wrongdoing.

Thanksgiving in 1810, 1910, and 2014

Here we are again on the Monday before Thanksgiving.  Accordingly, it’s time that we once again direct you to our 2010 Thanksgiving post entitled “Thanksgiving in 1810, 1910, and 2010.”  Back then, in our early blogging days, we somehow unearthed a century old magazine article in which the writer, a resident of 1910, looked back 100 years and marveled at the incredible social and technological change that occurred in the previous ten decades.  That writer also looked forward to 2010 and briefly speculated how we, as citizens of the 21st century, might look back at those who lived in his era 100 years before.   That article struck such a chord with us, and it’s become a Turkey Day tradition for us. So, today, we remind you of it once again and direct you back to it 104 years after its publication. (That neat illustration above – and many others like it – comes directly from the 103 year old article.). Have a look, and let us know what you think.