New Year’s Eve

“The world’s mightiest family salutes the new year,” proclaims the cover of Shazam! #11, published way, way back in the early 1970’s. As you can see, the new year at issue then was 1974, making this comic book cover exactly 40 years old. How about that?

How many of you went to work today? Days like today always prompt such a dilemma: What, if anything, might accomplished today, the final day of the year (especially when few others are actually in the office)? As we’ve confessed in the past, we are not actually in the office today (and in fact, this post was written days ago and set to auto-post this morning). So who knows where we are right now? But we can say this: it’s been a fun and fine year. We thank all of our readers for their support.

So, as you venture out into the night tonight, be merry, but be safe. Have a happy new year!

In the mean time, check here to see last year’s New Year’s Eve post for a great Archie comic book cover related to the day.

20 Hour Record: Receiving File, Trying Case, Closing File

We here at Abnormal Use are pleased to report on the trial of one of our contributors, Nick Farr.  Earlier this year, GWB lawyer, Rob Corney, set the modern (the 1970’s is not modern) firm record for the least amount of time elapsed between the firm’s retention in a case to the trial of that case at just over 30 days.  That’s now old news. Farr took the record after opening a file, trying the case, and closing said file all in a mind-boggling 20 hours.  And he secured a defense verdict to boot!

How you might ask?  GWB partner David Rheney received a call at 4:00 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon from a client with a new case pending in magistrate’s court.  Apparently, the complaint had been filed in October, served in November, and answered by the defendant in December.  The defendant remembered to tell the insurer that very Tuesday afternoon.  Once Rheney confirmed that there had been no default, we determined that we could amend the answer since we were within the 15 day period. All good things.

However, we then learned that the case was up for trial the very next day! Farr responded that he was up for the task. Armed with nothing more than two grainy black and white photographs , he appeared in court on Wednesday, obtaining a defense verdict in a non-jury trial.  Case closed.  He was pleased to report, as an added bonus, that the plaintiff’s daughter slammed the door in his face on the way out the courtroom.

Joe DiMaggio’s record 56 game hitting streak and Byron Nelson’s record of 11 straight PGA tour victories will be nothing more than ashes on the dust heap of history long before anyone approaches Farr’s record 20-hour Open-Try-Close.

Friday Links

Behold the cover of DC Universe Holiday Special #1, published not so long ago in 2008. We find it appropriate for the occasion. Our question: Where’s Batman?

In 1964, famed writer Isaac Asimov penned a piece in The New York Times predicting what life might be like in 2014. To read that fascinating article, click here. Three years ago, in December of 2010, we commented upon a series of New York Times articles written in 1931 predicting the world of 2011. (Hat tip: Treehugger).

Here’s one we ought to read: “16 Habits That Are Killing Your Productivity and How to Fix Them.” (Hat tip: Lee Rosen).

Our favorite tweet of the week: “Decided against being the first attorney to be subject to an objection for wearing Google Glass in a deposition.” (Via @BytePatent).

Of late, we’ve been enjoying the Libation Law Blog, which bills itself as a source for “[n]ews, insight and commentary on liquor law and legal developments in alcohol regulation, and the brewing, winemaking, and distilling industries.” It’s run by Ashley Brandt, an attorney in Chicago with Freeborn & Peters LLP. (We note with interest that Mr. Brandt features a Christopher Hichens quotation on his official firm bio.).

Catch-22 of Marketing Sports Equipment: New Riddell Lawsuit

In an ideal world, products liability and other consumer protection lawsuits should make products safer in the long run.  However, there are often instances where they actually encourage companies not to innovate and improve safety.  For instance, the sports equipment companies who want to design safer products (e.g., helmets) must sink a lot of money into research and design of safer products.  Yet, at the end of the day, a new and improved product won’t look much different from the old ones competitors will sell at a cheaper price.

The solution is, of course, advertising the benefits of the new and improved product.   Or is it?

Advertising safer products presents a Catch-22 for companies.  If they don’t advertise, consumers are less likely to buy the new and improved product.  This may reduce the incentive to invest in developing safer products.  Yet, if they do advertise their product as “safer,” they’ll almost certainly be sued over that advertising down the line if someone is injured while using their new product.

Such is life for Riddell, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of football helmets.  For years, it has faced a barrage of concussion lawsuits.  In the last decade, it has attempted to improve the safety of its helmets by designing new and ostensibly safer models, one of which was called the “Revolution” helmet.  Unsurprisingly, it is now being sued over its marketing of that helmet.

Earlier in December, the case of Thiel vs. Riddell, Inc., et. al., 1:13-cv-07585, was filed in federal court in New Jersey.  According to the lawsuit:

[Riddell] in a engaged a scheme to mislead New Jersey consumers about the benefits of their premium-priced helmet by falsely advertising to New Jersey consumers that the Revolution helmet is manufactured with “concussion reduction technology” which reduces the incidence of concussion, and does so by up to 31%

The suit contends that marketing of the Revolution helmet was intended to and did create the perception among purchasers that the helmet better reduced the chance of concussion than lower priced helmets.  Plaintiff further contends that Riddell relied upon a study by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to make the claim of a 31% reduction in concussions but that such study was fatally flawed and Riddell was aware of this fact. We don’t have enough facts to make any sort of assessment as to the merits of the case, but it does reenforce the dangers in marketing innovative safety equipment.  Notably, the marketing video for Riddell’s new top of the line helmet, the “360”, focuses more on the features of the helmet without being very specific about its benefits.  Of course, we can still see a Plaintiff claiming that it creates the perception that the helmet reduces chances of concussions.  Then again, isn’t that the point?

Merry Christmas from Abnormal Use!

We here at the Abnormal Use law blog and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas! Above, you’ll find the cover of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer #8, published way, way back in 1957. (That must have been a sizable comic book for its cover price to have been $1.00 in 1957!). In fact, in preparing this post, we learned that Rudolph had his own comic book series – published by DC Comics – back in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Keep in mind that Rudolph only came into existence in 1939. As you might imagine, the series only published one issue per year, and it did so for a total of thirteen issues. Check out the covers to these thirteen issues by clicking here for a gallery from Comicvine. We hope you, our readers, will be safe and be merry during this holiday season. To check our our past Christmas posts (and other Christmas related comic book covers), please see here, here, and here.

It’s Christmas Eve!

Well, it’s Tuesday, December 24, 2013, which means that for some, this is a work day (at least in part). We here at the Abnormal Use law blog and Gallivan, White, & Boyd, P.A. hope our lawyer readers will sneak out of the office a bit early to spend some time with family and friends today. To celebrate this festive occasion, we present the comic book cover above – that of The Flintstones Christmas Party #1, published way, way back in 1977. “Holiday fun with all your favorites!” proclaims the cover. All we can say is that there are a LOT of Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters in that sleigh. Have a safe and fun Christmas Eve (and triple check to make certain you’ve bought all your presents!).

To check our our past Christmas Eve posts (and other Christmas related comic book covers), please see here and here.

Words Forgotten, But Concepts Well-Known To Litigators

Like a stubborn grinnow, the English language is not going anywhere.  We lawyers must use its words to communicate arguments, describe evidence to fact-finders, and to otherwise educate and persuade.  The Huffington Post recently published an article highlighting seven forgotten English words that it selected from The Horologicon, by Mark Forsyth.  As foreshadowed by the title of this post, these words may be forgotten, but litigators have an intimate understanding of the concepts.

We have all run into the jack of all trades expert who provides opinions on everything from the mechanics of a hand gun to the health risks of toxic chemicals.  There are a variety of vulgar phrases which can be used to describe this individual off the record, but now you can confidently out this individual on the record for practicing ultracrepidarianism, or providing opinions on subjects about which he or she knows nothing. However, beware of the cloaked ultracrepidarian. See, e.g., Sheinkopf v. Stone, 927 F.2d 1259, 1269 (1st Cir. 1991) (“That Saltiel also made use of them in his personal business activities is hardly extraordinary, nor is it even remotely sufficient to cloak his ultracrepidarian activities with Nutter’s apparent authority.”).

The English language also provides a word for the shrewd, unprincipled fact witness – a snollygoster. At least one appellant has claimed that he had a run in with such a person.  Donald F. Capatosto, Appellant, EEOC DOC 01943257, 1994 WL 727940 (E.E.O.C. July 14, 1994). (“Appellant stated that he was ‘snollygostered (sic)’ by the agency into believing a second meeting would be held which would address his performance standards.”).  Use this word with caution.  The only problem is, by the time you finish verbalizing the four-syllables of the word “snollygoster,” the snollygoster may have already absconded with your wallet. We are happy to warn you here of such perils.

Ever wish that your witness would stop talking?  What you are actually wishing for is mumbudget.  The problem is, if your witness happens to be an ultracrepidarian, you may have problems accomplishing mumbudget.

Even if one is not a litigator, he or she has likely been unable to shake an issue from his or her mind in the night.  We have all been there. No matter how much we toss and turn, we are unable to stop thinking about an important issue or argument.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is known as uhtceare, or lying awake before dawn and worrying.

Even if you are unable to relate to any of the above, you can still print this post and take it with you to family scrabble games this holiday season. However, do so with caution.  If you are able to work any of the above words into your scrabble game, you may be accused of being a guttle of points, and your family may throw things at you.

Friday Links

Well, this is our last edition of Friday Links before the Christmas holidays, so we had to bring you the cover above, that of Batman #33 (published way, way back in 1946). Surely, Batman and Robin have been things to be doing, right? I mean, isn’t Alfred the butler employed to handle this very type of situation? Something is askew.

Over at his Torts Blog, Alberto Bernabe directs our attention to some songs about tort reform.

We’re pleased to see that Jeff Richardson at the iPhone J.D. blog fondly remembers the days of computer BBSs. For more on that, see here. Those were definitely the days.

Oscar Ramallo of The Hollywood Reporter offers this piece: “In Search Of A Lawsuit-Proof Band Name.”

Ron Nixon of The New York Times reports on the departure of Inez Tenenbaum as the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Her term expired in November. Tenenbaum, as you might recall, is a South Carolina lawyer.

Congratulations to GWB’s Curtis Ott, a partner in our Columbia, South Carolina office, who was recently sworn in as President of the South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys Association (SCDTAA). For more information, see here.

Jennifer Johnsen, a partner in our Greenville, South Carolina office and the chairperson of our firm’s diversity committee, published an op-ed this week entitled “5 Strategies for Promoting Diversity in the Workplace.”

Abnormal Interviews of 2013

As readers of this site are aware, we here at Abnormal Use occasionally publish interviews with law professors and practitioners on products liability and litigation. In 2013, we published a total of six such interviews (including some with comic book creators or beer enthusiasts). Today, we list all of our 2013 interviews and provide links back to them:

Daniel Hartis, North Carolina  Beer Author (July 25, 2013)
Jill Wieber Lens, Law Professor (September 10, 2013)
Brook Bristow, South Carolina Beer Lawyer (September 16, 2013)
Ryan Ferrier, Creator of ‘Tiger Lawyer” (September 30, 2013)
Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, College Athlete (October 10, 2013)
William M. Janssen, Law Professor (December 4, 2013)

As 2013 draws to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank the individuals listed above for being kind enough to grant the interviews. We think our site is all the better for it. And, if you missed any of the interviews, take a look!

Our Favorite Posts of 2013

Now is the time that we, as consumers of media, are inundated with year end best-of lists. So, just as we have done in years past, we here at Abnormal Use have collected our favorite posts of this past year – our fourth full year of existence (if you can believe it). If you’ve followed us from the very beginning, you know that we’ve posted at least every business day these past four calendar years. That’s a lot! Looking back over our posts this year, it was difficult to choose our favorites. But, dear readers, the ones we enjoyed the most are linked for you below, along with their author and publication date. Fill yourself with nostalgia, just as we have, and revisit these entries from 2013.

On The Perils of Replying To Blog Comments (Nick Farr, February 13, 2013)

Our Office Appeared in the 2001 film SHALLOW HAL (Jim Dedman, February 28, 2013)

Laches – The Saddest of All Affirmative Defenses (Jim Dedman, March 12, 2013)

The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case: Distinguishing Between Facts and Theory (Nick Farr, March 19, 2013)

North Carolina Court Declares Harlem Shake “Over,” Enjoins YouTube From Accepting Further Videos Depicting Same (Jim Dedman, April 1, 2013)

The Perils of Expert Depositions and The Duration Thereof (Jim Dedman, May 2, 2013)

Killing Trees At Depositions – A Modest Proposal? (Jim Dedman, May 8, 2013)

Outrageous, Egregious, Preposterous: The Hoosier State Chilled Beer Law (Rob Green, May 21, 2013)

Mediation: Uncool Wiles and Stratagems (Jim Dedman, May 23, 2013)

SC Man Burns Down House Due to Witch Infestation, Found Not Guilty of Arson (Nick Farr, June 3, 2013)

No Matter What You Think of Scalia’s Opinions, This Guy Thinks They’re Musical (Frances Zacher, July 11, 2013)

Facebook Friendships In Litigation – Exploring Them In Detail (Jim Dedman, August 7, 2013)

NFL Litigation May Forever Change Football (Nick Farr, August 19, 2013)

Federal Court Denies State’s Motion To Seal Following Habeas Counsel’s “Ill-Advised” Facebook Post Citing Kris Kristofferson (Jim Dedman, September 5, 2013)

The Blue Book and Commercial Recording Citations (Jim Dedman, September 18, 2013)

FDA Considering Rule Change Affecting Suits Against Generic Drug Makers (Frances Zacher, November 13, 2013)

Titles of Nobility Act: A New Challenge To The Legal Profession? (Nick Farr, December 2, 2013)

Golfer Takes a Mulligan. Mayhem and Litigation Ensue. (Kyle White, December 16, 2013)