Monday, January 12, 2009
Marler's post, though, doesn't really identify anything particularly weak about the case. Indeed, other than the first paragraph, it is a verbatim copy of the Burlington Free Press story to which it links
(neither block quoted nor in quotes) (now fixed). The introductory paragraph just says the story made him cringe, but doesn't say why.
In any event, the story gives a little more detail than we had before:
Two of the three plaintiffs did not in fact ingest the food, which is significant but not dispositive; they can still at least theoretically recover for emotional distress from witnessing the allegedly defective food. The third testified that he did eat it. The prisoners brought what they alleged was the chicken, but it wasn't admitted due to chain of custody issues. Again, that's a problem for their case but doesn't end it.
The case was tried in a bench trial; the judge (who dismissed the prisoners' claims for punitive damages) said he would issue a written ruling.
A later addition: By the way, I don't necessarily think it's a particularly strong case; much will depend on credibility, especially with the physical evidence excluded. Given the plaintiffs' status as either current or former prisoners, that may be tough. But this seems to be a different beast than the stereotypical prisoner litigation, and not self-evidently a sign of all that is wrong with the tort system.