Friday Links

Who can resist a comic book story entitled “The Death of Superman”? Depicted above is the 1997 graphic novel collecting various issues of assorted Superman titles originally published in 1995 and 1996. We’d never heard of this proceeding, certainly one that could compete for the coveted “trial of the century” moniker. Wikipedia summarizes the story as follows:

Weakened after a titanic battle with the monstrous villain Parasite, Superman inexplicably finds himself shackled and under arrest by a group of intergalactic officers. Taken to another galaxy, the Man of Steel has his powers negated and is instantly put on trial by a fearsome alien tribunal. Discovering that one of his relatives contributed to the annihilation of the Kryptonian race, Superman is found guilty of the crime due to ancestry and sentenced to death. Now with his powers depleted and the jury in, Superman, with the help of Superboy, Steel, Eradictor, Supergirl, Alpha Centurion, and a mysterious fellow prisoner called Mope must find a way to escape his sentence before his execution; but the alien tribunal has enlisted the help of the Cyborg Hank Henshaw to prevent Superman from escaping due punishment.

We’re not sure what rules of procedure would apply in that setting, but we bet Superman found his way out of that situation somehow.

Congratulations are in order! Our own John T. Lay was elected as a new member to the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) Board of Directors at their Annual Meeting in July. For more information, please see here.

“So what if they probably let a guilty man go free?” writes Mike D’Angelo of The Onion A.V. Club in a piece entitled “Did 12 Angry Men get it wrong?” Very interesting reading, that.

Chocolate smugglers provoke products liability questions

I ran across this story recently of two men who were detained for two hours at the U.S.-Canada border after border agents discovered that the pair were attempting to bring illegal firearms drugs invasive bug species chocolate kinder eggs into the Unites States.

You know, kinder eggs – the chocolate eggs with the toy inside.

Now, I get it.  Biting into one of these eggs is potentially tricky business – the toy inside is hazardous to teeth and dental hardware, and depending on the size of the toy and the size of the person eating the egg, a potential choking hazard.  But I would never have guessed that the possession of chocolate could subject the smuggler to a hefty fine.

But, like the men who were questioned about the contraband, I wonder why the eggs weren’t even confiscated from their car.  Indeed, the pair was eventually allowed to bring the chocolate into the country.  So much for border security.

Reading this story made me curious about two things.  First, from a products liability perspective, what happens now if one of these eggs does cause someone to choke or lose a filling?  Who could face potential liability?  Can a manufacturer be held liable for injuries caused by a product in a country where the product is banned?  What about the U.S. Government, which allowed a banned, “adulterated food object” enter the country it knew was a choking hazard?  Or, the men who, after being detained, would have been aware that they were distributing a hazardous food?

Second, I became curious about what other odd items have been banned from import into the United States.  I consulted the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website, but really all I could find was this general list, which failed to provide any real details about specific products that, if discovered, might be confiscated.

I am, however, now aware that I cannot import dog or cat fur into the U.S.

Chew on that one for a little while.

On skinny jeans and the law, say it isn’t so!

We here at Abnormal Use are a lot of things.  We are not, however, fashion gurus.  Sure, we can appreciate the look of a tailored suit, but you won’t catch us perusing Vogue for the latest fashion trends.  We are lawyers, after all, not Project Runway contestants.  Until fashion crosses paths with the law, we’ll eschew that trade and give it no screen time on this award winning blog.

Alas.  William Peacock of The Chicago Personal Injury Blog has done the unthinkable – discuss the legal ramifications of “skinny jeans.”  Apparently, skinny jeans pose dangers of leg numbness, nerve damage, and . . . twisted testicles.  Ouch!  According to British medical experts:

Twisted testicles occur when tight trousers prevent the spermatic cord from moving freely, meaning it twists and leads to testicular torsion which cuts off the blood supply requiring immediate surgery to prevent a gangrenous testicle.

Again, ouch! Products causing gangrenous testicles? There must be some potential for product liability litigation!?!

While there may be some potential for litigation, we doubt skinny jeans will ever turn into the next mega-class action suit.  As Peacock correctly points out, wearing skinny jeans presents serious issues of comparative fault:

In other words, the idiot in skinny jeans is held somewhat responsible for his own testicular torsion. And if a jury thinks that the wearer is more than 50 percent at fault, the manufacturer is completely off the hook.

Even without the knowledge of scientific research, it is doubtful the reasonable man would expect to confine his nethermost region in such a way without fear of some repercussions.

No one ever said looking beautiful is easy.  For guys, if for some reason that means wearing skinny jeans, then the price just may be gangrenous testicles.