The New Ultrahazardous Activity: Firing a Bottle Rocket from Your @#%

This case gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “blow it out your rear.”  As we all learned in law school, there’s strict liability when a person or entity chooses to engage in ultrahazardous activities.  Classic examples of ultrahazardous activities include really dangerous things like imploding a building or transporting hazardous waste.  Well now, according to a lawsuit out of West Virginia, ultrahazardous activities should include firing bottle rockets out of your anus.

Yes, you read that correctly.  A West Virginia student allegedly fell off the deck at his fraternity house when his fraternity brother fired a bottle rocket out of his own anus.  The student alleges the firing of the bottle rocket startled him so much that he jumped back and fell off of the deck.  The lawsuit claims that “firing bottle rockets out of one’s anus, constitutes an ‘ultrahazardous’ activity.”

We don’t think there’s any dispute that this alleged activity is certainly dangerous for the party attempting the stunt.  In fact, the bottle rocket reportedly failed to launch and blew up in the defendant’s rectum.  But is this the kind of ultrahazardous activity envisioned by the law, such that a defendant is subject to strict liability?

According to the Restatement (2d) of Torts, section 520, in determining whether an activity is ultrahazardous, courts should consider: 1) high risk of harm; 2) inability to eliminate risk; 3) extent to which the activity is not common; 4) appropriateness of the place where the activity is conducted; and 5) balance of community value of the activity versus the dangerous attributes.  There are some interesting and funny arguments to be made for both sides. For instance, we envision an argument from the defendant claiming that if a frat house is not the appropriate place for this kind of shenanigans, what location might be?

This case is still in its early stages, but we are certainly hoping it makes it to trial.  It should be interesting.

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