On South Carolina Tort Reform (Or How the Tortoise Finishes the Race)

As you may have heard, our own state of South Carolina finally passed a long awaited (or long dreaded depending on your side of the fence) tort reform act.  They call it . . . . . The South Carolina Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011, and the new law contains a punitive damages cap. Although it is most certainly a step in a direction, this blogger is still unsure which direction that is.

Here’s what the Punitive Damages section of the Act says with regard to caps:

Punitive damages will be capped at 3 times compensatory damages OR $500,000, whichever is greater.


1. The wrongful conduct was motivated by “unreasonable financial gain” and the person in charge knew of or approved the “unreasonably dangerous” nature of the conduct that was highly likely to result in injury;  (Ummmm.  What?)


2.  The wrongful conduct COULD subject the Defendant to a felony conviction;


Punitive damage will be capped at 4 times compensatory damages OR $2 Million, whichever is greater.


1.  The Defendant  intended to harm;


2.  The Defendant pled guilty to or was convicted of a felony arising out of the same act;


3. The Defendant acted while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor;


No cap.  (Glue huffers be damned.)

So, when exactly are the punitive damages capped at at three times compensatory damages or $500,000? When exactly does the motive for financial gain become unreasonable?  When it motivates a tortious act?  We expect to see many a law dog sparring over what is reasonable or unreasonable financial gain. Ah, more issues to be heavily litigated.

Also interesting is the requirement, in the 4 times compensatory/$2 million category, that the person in charge knew OR approved “the unreasonably dangerous nature of the conduct,” which had (has?) a “high likelihood of (causing) injury.”  So, could he approve it but not know that it was unreasonably dangerous with a high likelihood of causing harm?

The new Act takes effect in January of 2012.  We’ll be certain to keep you posted.

A rose by any other name would smell . . . like a lawsuit.

According to a recent story at UPI.com, a Florida man is suing Winn-Dixie for $15,000 because he pricked his finger on a rose thorn, which was allegedly negligently, recklessly, and unforgivably left attached – to a rose!  In the suit, Plaintiff Charles Imwalle of Lake Mary, Florida claims that he suffered pain, disfigurement, medical bills and lost wages as a result of his encounter with the most delicate of flowers.  The suit also names Passion Growers, L.L.C. as the offending gardeners who ignorantly and negligently left the rose in its natural (though beautiful) state of unreasonable dangerousness.

Disfigurement?  Lost wages?  What was this guy, a hand model?

According to the UPI story, Mr. Disfigured’s lawyer declined to comment to the media.  But, thank goodness, we know from the pleadings what Mr. Disfigured’s lawyer thinks should have been done: there should have been antibacterial solution in the buckets in which the flowers were kept.  So, obviously, they’re claiming that the Plaintiff’s finger became infected.  Which begs the question: How long did this guy actually go without washing his hands?

Each week, we seem to be able to find a new ridiculous lawsuit brought by someone with less common sense than the last person.  And yet, this one might take the cake.  At least until next week.

South Carolina Court of Appeals Reverses Products Liability Verdict Against Ford Motor Company

There is no question that South Carolina’s appellate courts are taking a harder look at expert testimony in products liability actions.  They’re looking not just at who’s qualified to be an expert, Watson v. Ford Motor Co., 699 S.E.2d 169 (S.C. 2010), but also, the subject matter experts may address, Jackson v. Bermuda Sands, Inc., 677 S.E.2d 612 (S.C. Ct. App. 2009). Just last week, the court of appeals issued an opinion in 5 Star, Inc. v. Ford Motor Company, No. 4862 (S.C. Ct. App. Aug. 10, 2011), which addresses when expert testimony may be required.

We here at Abnormal Use have completely plagiarized the court’s account of underlying facts for your convenience. Here you go: “5 Star is a lawn maintenance and pressure washing company owned by Stan Shelby. In February of 2005, 5 Star bought a 1996 Ford F-250 pickup truck with 227,000 miles for $1,500.00. On September 24, 2005, Shelby parked the truck for the weekend in 5 Star’s North Charleston warehouse, which also housed tractors, trailers, lawn mowers, and other equipment related to the business. When Shelby returned two days later he discovered that a fire had occurred. The truck was destroyed, and the building and several other pieces of equipment were severely damaged. There were no personal injuries. Before suit was filed and before Ford was given an opportunity to inspect the truck, Shelby had the truck towed from his property and crushed.”

Here’s a few additional facts taken from the opinion. Apparently, “the most significant damage to the building was directly above the truck’s engine compartment, which indicated  . . . that the engine compartment was the area of origin of the fire.” Furthermore, “the only thing that will produce heat” in the engine compartment when the vehicle is not being operated is the speed control deactivation switch. “[This] switch serves as a mechanism to deactivate the cruise control when the driver presses the brake pedal. The switch is wired into the brake light circuit, which, for safety reasons, must remain energized at all times. Keeping this circuit energized allows the brake lights to be illuminated by pressing the brake pedal even when the vehicle is turned off. The switch is ‘redundant,’ meaning it serves as a back-up in case the primary deactivation switch malfunctions.”

Due to the constant flow of electrical current, the switch can get hot. Apparently, a fuse is connected to the switch, which is tripped at 15 amps of electrical current. This is designed to prevent the switch from overheating. However, the switch was only rated to handle 2 amps of electrical current. This means there’s a range of 13 amps of current above the switch’s rating but below the fuse’s trigger that can course through the switch uninterrupted. “The allegedly defective quality of the switch is that it allows brake fluid, which is flammable, to remain in dangerous proximity to the energized electrical circuit [which, as we’ve just discussed, can get hot], separated only by a thin membrane.” Oh, and by the way, “Ford concede[d] the switch was defective.”

The case was tried in September 2008. The jury returned a verdict of $41,000.00 in actual damages for 5 Star. And everyone lived happily ever after — until 10 days later when the appeal was filed.

On appeal, the court focused on whether 5 Star presented any evidence that Ford had breached its duty to exercise reasonable care in designing the switch / fuse system, which is necessary in products cases based on design defects. The court held that “5 Star not only failed to present any evidence that Ford’s conduct in designing the switch was negligent, 5 Star failed to present any evidence of Ford’s conduct whatsoever.” The court further held that a directed verdict should have been entered for the Ford Motor Company.

Judgment reversed.

In a footnote, the court stated that 5 Star did not brings claims against Ford under strict liability or breach of warranty. We don’t want to play Tuesday morning quarterback, but including those claims probably would have been game-changers.

There’s one thing that prompts some curiosity. The court held that “[b]ecause 5 Star failed to present any expert testimony on the design of the speed control deactivation switch and whether the design was negligent in 1996, the trial court erred in not directing a verdict in favor of Ford.” But under the facts of this case, was expert testimony really necessary? If 5 Star’s theory was that Ford should have used a different switch, or a different fuse, or should not have routed a constant electrical current through the switch, certainly, expert testimony on those matters would be appropriate. But we’re not convinced that 5 Star’s theory was that complicated. Based on our reading of the facts, 5 Star’s theory seems to have been very simple: Ford designed a system that allowed brake fluid to be in close proximity to a heat source; brake fluid is flammable; the combination of heat and fuel caused a fire that destroyed 5 Star’s truck. If this was Plaintiff’s theory, again, was expert testimony really necessary?

In a different, but comparable context, the court of appeals has previously held that reasonable people of ordinary prudence should know that ladders conduct electricity, Anderson v. Green Bull, Inc., 471 S.E.2d 708 (S.C. Ct. App. 1996), that using golf carts at night is dangerous, Moore v. Barony House Restaurant, LLC, 674 S.E.2d 500 (S.C. Ct. App. 2009), and that using watercraft near swimmers can endanger the swimmers’ lives, Dema v. Shore Enters., Inc., 435 S.E.2d 875 (S.C. Ct. App. 1993). If people are assumed by law to have these types of knowledge, then wouldn’t the law also assume that the average person of ordinary prudence also knows that exposing flammable liquids to heat can cause fire? If the law would impose that knowledge on natural persons, then wouldn’t it also impose that knowledge on corporate persons? And if the matter were truly within the ambit of common sense, then why would expert testimony be necessary — even admissible — on the matter anyway?

Don’t get us wrong. We appreciate the court’s invigorated efforts to rein in expert testimony, which is too often manipulated and abused. And we also appreciate Ford Motor Company’s nearly single-handed efforts to finance the litigation that is clarifying the law of expert testimony in South Carolina. We’re just watching and waiting to see if this decision will get taken up to the Supremes.

Abnormal Use Joins The Facebook

Guess what? We here at Abnormal Use have set up a Facebook page for our blog content, which you can find here. Sure, we waited until well after that movie about Facebook was released, but we wouldn’t say we’re tardy in joining everyone’s favorite social network. If anything, we’re fashionably late.

As you might expect, we’ll be posting links to our blog content there, so now, you don’t even have to leave your favorite (or most familiar) social networking platform to learn what we’re up to here at our site.  That just shows you how considerate we are. We’re hopeful that this move will promote additional interaction with you, our dear readers, and allow us to reach you where you already may be.  We’re very accommodating, aren’t we?

So, now, if you like us, if you really, really like us, then you can login to our new Facebook page and hit the like button!

Friday Links

There are some problems with the events depicted on the cover of Justice League of America #69, shown above and published way back in 1969.  Green Arrow is informed simultaneously that he has been both charged and convicted – apparently in absentia – with murder.  There’s nothing really just (or American, for that matter) about conducting a criminal prosecution in that fashion, although that’s apparently the way the Justice League of America rolls.  Shouldn’t Green Arrow have been properly arrested, appointed counsel, indicted, and tried to verdict? Nevertheless, the members of the JLA – even Superman! – add insult to injury by unanimously displaying turned down thumbs to the crestfallen arrow-slinger. You’d also think they would have disarmed Green Arrow before sharing this news.

Brian Comer discovers the Stiletto Heel Warranty in South Carolina. Who knew? It’s apparently in the statutes somewhere.

Congratulations to the Charleston School of Law for receiving full accreditation from the American Bar Association. More details here. (Hat Tip: The Faculty Lounge).

In a post entitled “Golden Retriever Takes Stand in New York Criminal Trial,” Ilya Somin of The Volokh Conspiracy recounts how, well, a dog recently “testified” in court in New York. There’s much that can be said about this development. However, we here at Abnormal Use can say only one thing: there is a precedent for this.

Did we mention that our firm’s new marketing director, Cortney Easterling, has joined Twitter? You can follow her at @CortEasterling.

There’s a bit of a scandal in the legal blogosphere this week.  Apparently, a law professor, sick of the “scam” he has found legal education to be, has started an anonymous law blog to lodge his presumably many complaints.  He goes by the pseudonym LawProf and has named his blog Inside The Law School Scam. Here’s a sample from his first post:

I can no longer ignore that, for a very large proportion of my students, law school has become something very much like a scam. And who is doing the scamming? On the most general level, the American economy in the second decade of the 21st century. On a more specific level, the legal profession as a whole. But on what, for legal academics at least, ought to be the most particular, most important, and most morally and practically compelling level, the scammers are the 200 ABA-accredited law schools.  Yet there is no such thing as a “law school” that scams its students — law schools are abstract social institutions, not concrete moral agents. When people say “law school is a scam,” what that really means, at the level of actual moral responsibility, is that law professors are scamming their students.

We’ll be watching this would be Howard Beale of American legal education, if only to keep abreast of the burgeoning scandal. By the way, we wouldn’t ordinarily link the name Howard Beale to its corresponding Wikipedia entry, but you must understand that most junior associates were born -after- the release of Network. (Hat Tip: PrawfsBlawg and Volokh Conspiracy).

Religion and Products Liability Square Off in New Jersey

Religion has yet to become a central element in our product liability practice.  However, with the prevalence of religion in this country, there must be somewhere we can find a spiritual product liability claim.  Maybe Georgia?  Texas, perhaps?  Try New Jersey.

Recently, in Gupta v. Asha Enterprises, No. A-3059-09T2 (N.J. Ct. App. July 18, 2011), the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court affirmed in part and reversed in part a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of an Edison, New Jersey restaurant that allegedly served meat-filled samosas to sixteen Hindu vegetarians.  As part of an India Day celebration in 2009, the plaintiffs placed an order at the Indo-Pak restaurant for vegetarian samosas, informing the restaurant that the food was being purchased for a group of strict vegetarians.  The restaurant filled the order and assured the plaintiffs that the food did not contain meat.  After consuming some of the samosas, the plaintiffs returned the remaining samosas to the restaurant and were advised that the food was, in fact, filled with meat.  As a result, the plaintiffs claimed spiritual damage and asserted a number of causes of action against the restaurant, including product liability and breach of express warranty.  The Court found prima facie evidence of an express warranty by the restaurant employees and reversed the grant of summary judgment as to that claim.  However, the Court affirmed summary judgment on the product liability claim, holding that, while the plaintiffs were supplied the wrong product, the food was safe, edible, and fit for human consumption.  Alas, religion and products liability remain divided.

As practitioners of the Swaminarayan principles of Hinduism,the plaintiffs believe that by eating meat they “become involved in the sinful cycle of pain, injury and death on God’s creatures, and that it affects the karma and dharma, or purity of the soul.”  While the food may have been physically safe, for the plaintiffs, meat is hardly fit for human consumption.

If the plaintiffs prevail on their express warranty claim on remand, the jury may have their hands full when calculating damages.  The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for emotional distress and economic damages in connection with a purification ritual they must now undergo to cleanse themselves.  According to Swaminarayan principles, the souls of those who eat meat can never go to God after death.  What dollar amount can be placed on eternal damnation?  After violating this principle, knowingly or unknowingly, the plaintiffs must travel to the River Ganges in Haridwar, Uttranchal, India to undergo a purification ritual which can last up to 30 days.  As the Court noted, in order to be awarded consequential damages, the damages must have been foreseeable at the time of the sale.  While that might not be the case with a fast food joint, perhaps a restaurant focusing on Indian cuisine could be charged with such knowledge.

In an increasingly pluralistic society, restaurants and manufacturers cannot reasonably be expected to produce their products in accordance with the plethora of religious principles.  However, there are some express statements here that will soon be litigated. We will have to wait and see what happens.

Abnormal Interviews: Law Professor J. Stanley McQuade

Today, Abnormal Use continues its series, “Abnormal Interviews,” in which this site will conduct brief interviews with law professors, practitioners and other commentators in the field. For the latest installment, we turn to law professor J. Stanley McQuade of the Campbell University School of Law in Raleigh, North Carolina. McQuade, a certified anesthesiologist, teaches courses on law and its interaction with medicine. The interview is as follows:

1.  What rule or concept in modern products liability jurisprudence do you believe is the most outdated, and why?

The two notions that I consider most outdated are strict liability and comparative fault. Taking them in order:

Strict liability is properly defined as liability without proof of a defendant’s fault and that due care by that defendant is irrelevant. This is already part of the law in many areas and [there is] nothing radical about it. What seems to me new is the term “strict liability” taken as a cause of action in itself. I think it is very misleading to jurors, and perhaps even to lawyers, suggesting some kind of liability without fault where they can let their imaginations run ahead of their judgment and find for a badly injured plaintiff willy nilly without locating the liability in any other recognized area of law like negligence or warranty, et cetera. The idea of liability without fault works well enough in manufacturing defect cases where the defect speaks for itself, but it is not needed here and does not apply in design or warnings defect cases which are generally admitted to be essentially based on fault. Throwing in the term strict liability only confuses things. I notice that neither the Model Uniform Product Liability Act (MUPLA) nor the Restatement of the Law (3d) of Torts—Products Liability use the term “strict liability.” I would therefore urge the North Carolina legislature to continue to ban that term.

With regard to comparative fault, I agree with the justice in the California Supreme Court case who commented that asking a jury to assign fault in a degree somewhere between “0” and “100 percent” was asking too much. I also consider modified comparative liability defective since, besides asking juries to assign large degrees of fault, it also asks them to consider the effect of their decision, i.e. that if fault exceeds 50 percent the plaintiff gets nothing (and the jury must be apprised of this rule). Psychologists tell us, and the good justice agrees, that people can only decide between 3-5 alternatives at the most. Applied to comparative fault, this suggests that the jury should first be asked to decide if the plaintiff should get the first alternatives, everything or nothing. If this cannot be done, they should be allowed to determine whether the plaintiff was 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent at fault. This they could manage, and split decisions could be rendered unanimous by the usual methods.

2.  You are a certified anesthesiologist.  What medical issues do you believe that lawyers misunderstand the most in their cases, and why?

The standard of care. This is, of course, what a reasonable practitioner in the same specialty and the same circumstances would  consider reasonable to expect of a doctor. What is sometimes overlooked here is that medical diagnosis and treatment have become so sophisticated and complicated that it is difficult for even specialists to keep up with things, and it becomes easier and easier to make a mistake. The standard of care is established by testimony of a physician, and physicians placed in this situation suddenly become very judicial and exacting (to show how professional they are).  I think that the standard of care (and breach of it) might better be established by a small panel consisting of a judge, a defense lawyer and a plaintiff’s lawyer (and no doctor) with the right of the plaintiff or defendant to ask for a second opinion. I realize that this is  a somewhat controversial opinion, but I would rather trust my reputation to informed lay persons such as lawyers than to medical opinion.

3.  What is the most important thing lawyers should keep in mind when reviewing medical records?

Adopt a methodical approach (see my manual on this subject – learn how a medical record is put together and what you expect to learn from each part of it) deciding first 1/ Why was the patient seeing a doctor or entering a hospital? 2/ What went wrong? 3/ What steps were taken when the wrong turn occurred? 4/ What is the resulting damage and disability?

BIOGRAPHY: A certified anesthesiologist, Stanley McQuade lectures on the topics of law and medicine. He received his law degree with top honors from The Queens University of Belfast in 1950. Thereafter he received BD, BA, PhD, and MD degrees from the same university, as well as a Masters degree in Theology from Union Theological Seminary. He has also served for 25 years as a Methodist minister and has published several works in the areas of law and medicine and jurisprudence.. He is also Medical Editor for Westnet’s ten-volume Attorney’s Medical Advisor and Atlas.

Vice Squad: Dopamine Agonist Agony

It was a slow news day at the world headquarters of Abnormal Use. Oh sure, the global economy was in the process of melting down. Washington had just created a super-Congress. And Tiger Woods was making a triumphant, yet underwhelming, return to professional golf. Yawn. But as the bureau chief for Abnormal Use: Vice Squad, I was looking for some fresh, products-based inspiration that toed the thin gray line between entertainment and decency. It’s a dirty job down here in the trenches, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. So as I’m sitting at the Vice Squad desk, I happened across a pharmaceutical litigation discussion board. I’d thought I’d stop in, just to see what I could see. Happily, what I saw was my inspiration for this post . . . .

Let’s take a quick poll. Imagine you have a condition that requires you to take medication that may cause certain side-effects. How far down the following list of side-effects would you go before you declined the medication, knowing – obviously – that you can’t pick and choose which side-effects you want?

(1) May cause depression.
(2) May cause compulsory shopping.
(3) May cause compulsory eating.
(4) May cause pathological gambling.
(5) May cause hypersexuality or sexually risky behavior.

Based on this list, some folks may choose to stay away from the meds. Others may look at the list of side-effects and think, all things considered, it’s not so bad. Personally, I can name eight people off the top of my head that have more than half of these side-effects and don’t even take medication. I’ll bet you can too. (Feel free to post their names in the comments.)

The side-effects listed above are alleged to occur in connection with drugs that use “dopamine agonists.” To be honest, I don’t understand what a dopamine agonist is; I don’t know what they do; I certainly don’t know how they work; and frankly, I don’t care to know. If you want to know, the best I can do is give you a link to the Wikipedia page and wish you good luck.

Based on my otherwise extensive research, meds that include dopamine agonists are commonly used to treat Parkinson’s Disease and – of all things – Restless Leg Syndrome. If the critics of dopamine agonists are right, a person could go to the doctor to get treatment for his jimmy legs and walk out with an unhealthy sex addiction, an urge to eat at Golden Corral, and the need to let it all ride on 17 black. This, of course, has prompted litigation.

One plaintiff claims that as a result of dopamine agonists, he developed a shopping compulsion and an eating disorder, went to Vegas without telling his wife, began adulterous relationships, and forged checks from his wife’s account. Other plaintiffs have made similar allegations a la that they began using dopamine agonists, that they began committing adultery, and that they would go gambling for days without telling their spouses where they were. See, e.g., Sweet v. Pfizer, 232 F.R.D. 360 (C.D. Cal. 2005). Again, this sounds exactly like people we already know.

A class action involving dopamine agonists and compulsive behavior was filed in Minnesota in 2006. The first case to be tried out of that litigation resulted in a jury verdict of $8.2 million. Charbonneau v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma., Inc., C.A. No. 0:06–CV–1215 (D. Minn. 2006) (Note: Since there was no written order regarding the verdict, I’ve included just the case name and docket number, if you want to do more research.  Or you can just take my word for it.). The other cases in the class were settled soon thereafter. Other litigation has sprung up around the country, and in many jurisdictions, is still pending.

As someone who normally practices corporate defense litigation, I began wondering what kinds of affirmative defenses were raised in these cases. I had a feeling they could be entertaining. I was right. I’ve set my favorite affirmative defenses out below:

(5) Proximity to Gambling Outlets. This defense is obviously designed to attack causation: “The drugs didn’t make your no-good father / husband / son / boyfriend gamble; it was the fact he lived next to Caesar’s Palace.” It’s at least plausible.

(4) Personal Susceptibility. “Plaintiff has always been depressed / been overweight / had a gambling problem / been a womanizer.” This seems to tread awfully close to inadmissible propensity evidence, but for an answer to the complaint, that’s a non-issue.

(3) Utility. “The benefits of using dopamine agonists outweigh any negative side-effects that may occur.” This seems like a hard sell when the condition is something like jimmy legs and the consequence is something like bankruptcy, adult-onset diabetes, and a no-expenses paid trip to a sexual rehabilitation clinic where the best you can hope for is sharing a lunch table with David Duchovny.

(2) Bad Gambler. There are no bad gamblers; only bad luck. Motion to strike this defense granted.

(1) Act of God. Act of God? Are you serious?  Isn’t this the same God that condemns avarice, lust, AND gluttony? Is this for real? Yes, this is for real. If you don’t believe me, check out this document: 2006 WL 1829496 (Affirmative Defense No. 5). I would pay to see this defense in action. “And therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, it was not dopamine agonists that caused the plaintiff to have illicit, extramarital sex and to bet on horses; it was God!” Statistically, you’d have 90 percent of Americans ready to punish you for even suggesting that God was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The other 10% would be ready to commit you for suggesting that a figment of humanity’s imagination was responsible. It’s a losing proposition. But it does remind me of the seminal case, United States ex rel. Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D. Pa. 1971), which I’ve linked here for your reading pleasure.

I have two last observations. A quick bit of research on Westlaw yielded a number of decisions involving dopamine agonists, none of which came out of Nevada, which of course has legalized gambling and prostitution. How, if at all, this would affect the usefulness of “proximity to temptation” as an affirmative defense, who knows? But I thought it was an interesting bit of trivia.

Finally, in a number of the cases I looked at in preparing for this article, I couldn’t help but notice an interesting trend. Many plaintiffs alleged that as a consequence of using drugs with dopamine agonists, they developed hypersexual compulsions. In those same cases, there would usually be a spouse claiming loss of consortium. Go figure.

The Perils of Making Pop Culture References at Depositions

Depositions can be funny. One of the joys of being a member of the Texas Bar is receiving the Texas Bar Journal, which always included the famed “Et Cetera” column by the late U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, who offered amusing moments and excerpts from litigation.  For years and years and years, Judge Buchmeyer collected funny quips and quotes from deposition transcripts, trial pleadings, and trials and published them in his column.  In fact, his column became so popular, that whenever anyone flubbed a question during a deposition, someone would inevitably remark, “That’s one for Buchmeyer.” Sadly, Judge Buchmeyer passed away in 2009, but the world can enjoy his columns at the Texas Bar Journal’s website here.

We always wanted to submit something to the column but never had the opportunity.  Recently, though, something happened at a deposition that we – and apparently only we – thought was amusing.  Here is an excerpt from a recent toxic tort deposition:

Q     Do you know whether or not the specifications that were discussed were altered at any time after the summer of 1969?

A     No, sir.  I don’t know.

Q     So you have no personal knowledge of any subsequent negotiations which may or may not have occurred after the summer ’69.  Is that correct?

A     Correct.

Q     Summer of ’69. Somebody needs to make a Bryan Adams reference here, I think.

After that remark, though, there were crickets in the room.  Crickets! When we received the transcript, we turned to the relevant page to see if the court reporter had added, “Whereupon, there were the sounds of crickets.” Worse was the deafening nature of the silence! From both those assembled in the room and those attending the deposition by telephone! The attempt at humor fell flat, but it seemed so clever to us in our own minds! How can one discuss the summer of 1969 without referencing the old song by Bryan Adams? Oh, well. Maybe this deposition excerpt would not have been one for Judge Buchmeyer’s column, but how can one resist making a pop culture reference under those circumstances? How could anyone? Oh, bah, humbug.

Friday Links

After last week’s more wholesome legal themed comic book cover, today we return to something a bit more hard-boiled: Justice #6, published way, way back in 1948. Note the actions of the crestfallen mother as she hears the judge sentence her son to the electric chair. The defendant’s sister, however, has little sympathy. A cynical news reporter asks “When will these craven criminals ever learn that at the end of the trail of crime nothing is waiting but heartbreak – and tears!” (Why that newshound is lurking near the judge’s bench rather than the spectator’s gallery is unknown). Curiously, there do not appear to be any actual lawyers in this courtroom, or at least none we can see. One thing is for certain: there is a whole lot dialogue on this cover.

As promised, Steve McConnell of the Drug and Device Law blog has posted his magnus opus on Star Wars. (Don’t expect too much about pharmaceutical litigation in that post.). We encourage you to read it. Of note, Steve properly reserves some disdain for the recent prequels, as any reasonable person should.

Speaking of which, in last week’s edition of “Friday Links,” we directed you to our 2011 April Fool’s Day post, “Star Wars Prequels Unreasonably Dangerous and Defective, South Carolina Federal Court Finds,” suggesting that it was “the one post this site [had] dedicated to that series of films.”  But guess what? That’s not entirely true. Nerds that we are, we’ve referenced Star Wars before! We searched our archive and discovered this June 2010 post in which we quoted a number of courts who referenced the Star Wars trilogy. You know you want to know which judges referenced the trilogy.

Friend of the blog Jay Hornack a/k/a Panic Street Lawyer has an interesting blog post on U2’s recent Pittsburgh concert and the 14th Amendment. Somehow, he manages to connect those seemingly unrelated things together with his mighty prose. Check it out. We have not yet had the opportunity to write about U2, but earlier this year, we did do a pretty thorough post listing songs about lawyers and judges.

The State offers this account of yesterday’s memorial service for U.S. District Court Judge Matthew J. Perry, Jr., who passed away last week at 89.

This week, we welcome two brand new bloggers to Abnormal Use! Starting this week, be on the lookout for posts from our two new associate contributors, Steve Buckingham and Childs Cantey Thrahser. Steve (whose first post ran earlier this week) serves on our Business and Commercial Law Team in our Greenville office, while Childs, also on our B&C team, works out of our brand new Columbia office. We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank retiring blogger Laura Simons, an associate in our Greenville office, for her 18 months of service on the blog. She’s definitely earned a break after being with us since our initial founding in January of 2010, and we wish her a happy retirement from this fateful enterprise.

South Carolina Lawyers Weekly reports on Mills Gallivan, our boss, being appointed to the South Carolina Bar Dispute Resolution Section. Note: You can now follow Mills on Twitter at @MillsGallivan.