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Monday, January 12, 2009

More on Prisoner Fowl Case

Bill Marler is unimpressed by the case, which I noted last week and which went to trial later in the week.

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.

(h/t Overlawyered)

--BC

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tortsprof/2009/01/more-on-prisone.html

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Comments

ooops - usually catch the quotes - been up to my neck in Salmonella Peanut Butter.

Posted by: Bill Marler | Jan 12, 2009 8:22:00 AM

Fixed the quote - also linked your blog to my. Cheers.

Posted by: Bill Marler | Jan 12, 2009 8:22:14 AM

Seeking millions of dollars of damages from emotional distress (no physical injury) from seeing chicken entrails smells like chicken entrails to me.

Posted by: Neal | Jan 13, 2009 6:24:37 PM

They sought $100,000 or more in damages, not millions. Butts alleged physical injury, though he conceded at trial that his injuries might have been psychosomatic.

Posted by: Bill Childs | Jan 13, 2009 7:42:21 PM

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