TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, October 27, 2006

As If T.O. Wasn't Enough

The receivers coach for the Dallas Cowboys has sued McDonald's after finding a six-inch rat in his salad.

The dead rodent, believed to be a juvenile roof rat, was about 6 inches long and was found on its back with its mouth opened, Scott Casterline, a spokesman for the family, told The Associated Press.

He said the women didn't find the rat until taking the salad home to eat, and that a manager from the McDonald's "didn't offer any comfort" after driving to their house to see the rodent. The suit was filed after the restaurant didn't follow through on promises "to make things right," he said.

"The family needs closure," Casterline told The Associated Press. "It came to a point where you have to draw a line."

* * *

According to the lawsuit, Christine Haley and Kelley had eaten part of the salad purchased June 5 before the dead rodent was uncovered.

The women became violently ill and endured long-lasting physical injuries, the lawsuit said. Chritine Haley, who was nursing, states she had to feed her baby with formula.

The roof rat is common in Texas.

Also: Yuck.

[via DeadSpin]

October 27, 2006 in Goofy Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kids, Sit on Your Hands and Enjoy Recess!

You've probably already heard about the Attleboro, Massachusetts, elementary school banning tag and other kinda-sorta-contact sports at recess.

Frank DeFord on Wednesday's Morning Edition had an commentary on the subject, and on school recess more generally.

I'm co-chair of the PTO at my daughter's school and recess is, to say the least, an interesting discussion.  While the Attleboro administration cites liability concerns, my guess is that the topic was even open for discussion because parents brought it up, due as much to fear about their kids having their feelings hurt as anything else.  Perhaps liability concerns are an easy reason to give -- and no doubt it's in the mix -- but I'd bet it's at least as much (over?) protective parents as real legal concerns.

October 27, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Batteries Go Boom

Scientific American has posted online a prepublication preview [PDF] of a story in its next issue, addressing the chemistry behind the troubles with lithium-ion batteries, complete with a discussion of economic pressure resulting in allegedly closer calls, safety-wise.

Of perhaps note, last spring when I taught Products Liability, a student was late for the first day of class.  Why?  Because her laptop's battery had caught on fire and started a fire in her home.  (Nobody was injured.)

October 26, 2006 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Borat and the Law

Slate has a fun Explainer piece about the Borat film (trailer page) being released in a couple of weeks, addressing the release signed by people who appear in it and its unusual specificity:

The waivers encompass claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, and infringement of publicity rights—and they do so in unusual detail. The document diverges most clearly from the standard "standard consent agreements" when it gets into issues of fraud, "breach of alleged moral rights," and copyright infringement. There's even a reference to the federal Lanham Act, which covers unfair business practices that could mislead consumers. (This clause may protect against the claim that consumers were made to believe that the participant has endorsed—or voluntarily acted—in the film.)

Slate has the actual release involved posted.

October 26, 2006 in Documents | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

MySpace Suit Update

I don't have the new complaint, but I understand that the Austin-filed MySpace complaint has been nonsuited and refiled, with five additional similar claims from plaintiffs in somewhat similar circumstances, in the Bronx.  The defendant News Corp. has apparently removed the matter.

If I have a chance later on today, I'll spend some time on PACER and grab the complaint, assuming it's available.

October 26, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

A Couple More Williams Pieces

Ted Frank points out two more columns on the upcoming Williams case.

October 26, 2006 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sebok & Frank on Punitives

Anthony Sebok (Brooklyn) has the second part of his discussion of the upcoming Williams case up on FindLaw.  And Ted Frank (Overlawyered, etc.) has an analysis at the Business & Media Institute.  Both are worth reading in advance of the Halloween argument.

October 26, 2006 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

OT: A Tragic Anniversary

Four years ago today, Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, their daughter Marcia, and three campaign aides were killed in a tragic plane accident in outstate Minnesota.  I still remember my wife calling in tears, asking if I'd heard yet.  I hadn't.  It was a terrible day.

I took a semester off from college to work on Senator Wellstone's first campaign for Senate, volunteering (with occasional paid stints) full-time from precinct caucuses through the endorsing convention (i.e., when his election was impossible).  I continued to work for the campaign that fall, as campus organizer at Macalester College, where we hosted one of the largst rallies of the campaign.  I also interned in his office the spring following his remarkable election, working on immigrant and refugee issues.

I remember seeing him on an plane, flying from Minneapolis to D.C., sometime after I started in practice, probably in early 2001.  I hadn't seen him since sometime in the mid-90s, but he immediately greeted me, asked after Dena, and asked after my parents.

Regardless of your views of his politics (and I did not agree with him on all issues), Paul had the courage of his convictions, he said what he believed, and he voted consistently.  Our public debate is poorer for his absence.

The Wellstone Alliance has posted a rememberance and has a page relating to the memorial.

"Never separate the lives you live from the words you speak."

October 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wax On, Wax Off...and Sorry About Your Nose.

Nice example case for discussions of assumption of risk (and consent, though it's not mentioned)

A woman whose nose was broken during a sparring match at a Long Island, N.Y., karate school was an experienced practitioner of the sport and had assumed the inherent risk of injury or "even death," a state judge has concluded in dismissing her lawsuit against the school and its owner.

* * *

"Therefore, the court finds that being struck in the face while sparring, which itself involves punching and kicking your opponent while attempting to block punches and kicks from your opponent, was a risk that was known and apparent to this plaintiff when she chose to take this sparring class," Doyle wrote. "Indeed plaintiff signed a contract with the school which states, in part, that plaintiff acknowledges that the risk of sustaining an injury resulting from broken bones or even death is inherent in the sport of karate and plaintiff waives her right to recover against the karate school in the event she sustained such an injury."

The claim against the instructor was allowed to stand, as genuine issues of material fact were present about the claim that the contact was intentional.

October 25, 2006 in Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

OT: Technology Beats Torts

Bringing your Raspberry Tort(e)s fantasy football team to 3-4, Tech Law Advisor's creatively-named team "Tech Law Advisor" won a tough game, 134-124.  Donte Stallworth's last-minute inactive status hurt, as did Julius Jones's last-minute failure to do anything useful.

I hate having Cowboys on my team.

October 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Causation & 9/11 Dust

The NYT has a front-page story today about the problems of factual causation in 9/11-related lawsuits, in particular addressing the potential toxicity of the dust:

The question that arises in all these cases is straightforward: Can a link between the dust and disease be proved with scientific certainty? The answer is anything but simple.

“Certainty is a word we always dance around,” said Joseph Graziano, associate dean for research at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. For him, searching for the cause of disease is like developing film. “At first you see a faint image of what the real picture is,” Dr. Graziano said, “and then, over time, you see it with much more clarity. In these relatively early times, the image is still faint.”

October 24, 2006 in Current Affairs, Experts & Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Check Those Facts

An interesting instance of liability modifications in a legislative race came up in Illinois.  It's interesting mostly because it appears that the candidate being criticized for being "anti-reform" (who is an attorney in a plaintiff-side firm) actually supported and voted for the bill in question.

October 23, 2006 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

JPML Takes One for the Team

St. Louis in November, November 30 to be precise, for the next JMPL hearing.  Ouch.  Still, I guess the food on the Hill will be just as tasty even in November, but I'd probably have aimed for, say, Pasadena for November and waited until May for St. Louis.

Anyway, potentially interesting MDLs from the hearing order [MDL]:

  • Stand 'n' Seal products liability litigation.  This is an interesting case, at a glance; it was recalled because, so far as I can tell, it wasn't stinky enough: "The product’s odor is not chemically pungent enough to force consumers to minimize their exposure to the fumes."  At least one plaintiffs' firm asserts that the product's composition is itself problematic, aside from the stinkiness factor.
  • Marvel-Schebler Float Carburetor products liability litigation.  Not sure what this is.
  • In re LLRice 601 Contamination litigation.  This relates to genetically-modified rice from Bayer CropScience allegedly making its way into the food supply stream.  (Note: I advise a different Bayer company in tort litigation.)  One firm's explanation is here.

That's it for oral argument matters.

October 22, 2006 in MDLs and Class Actions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)