Friday, May 29, 2009

Graduation: It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye

Here's a legal writing hypothetical for you.  The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting on the dangers of the traditional mortarboard toss at graduation.  Apparently, someone did indeed almost lose an eye as the result of a flying mortarboard.  Thankfully, the injury (nor the predictable lawsuit against Yale), didn't last very long.  Not so lucky was the student who will bear a scar for the rest of her life reminding her of that fateful day when a flying mortarboard opened a gash in her head that required a visit to the emergency room as well as some stitches.  

The injuries reported by the CHE suggest several potential tort issues for an interesting writing problem including negligence, product liability, and assumption of the risk, among others.  Remember kids - enjoy graduation but please look before you throw that mortarboard.  Let's not turn a good time into a tragedy, OK?

I am the scholarship dude.


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Assuming the mortar boards are not marked with names on them, there's a very nice proof of causation problem (and an opportunity for a student to speculate as to various ways a court could resolve that problem) buried within that negligence problem. As I recall, the problem of how to apply Summers v. Tice when more than two possible tortfeasors are present is an open one, at least outside of the realm of pharmaceutical litigation anyway.

Posted by: Scott M. Litvinoff | Jun 2, 2009 2:54:27 PM

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