Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Our Favorite Halloween Cases

Here are some of our favorite Halloween cases:

  • United States ex rel. Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D. Pa. 1971). A civil rights action against Satan and his servants for allegedly placing deliberate obstacles in the pro se plaintiff's path, causing his downfall and depriving him of his constitutional rights. The court questioned whether the plaintiff could obtain personal jurisdiction over the defendant in Pennsylvania, although the court noted an unofficial account of "a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff." Id. at 283.
  • Lugosi v. Universal Pictures, 160 Cal. Rptr. 323, 603 P.2d 425 (Cal. 1979). The widow and son of the actor who played Dracula sued Universal Pictures for licensing others to use the Count Dracula character. The California Supreme Court ruled that the right to exploit a name and likeness is personal to the artist and must be exercised, if at all, during the artist's lifetime.
  • Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254, 572 N.Y.S.2d 672 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dept.1991). The court ruled that because a home seller had previously reported the Victorian house as being haunted, the seller was estopped from denying the existence of poltergeists on the premises. The house was haunted as a matter of law. The court also ruled that haunting cannot ascertained by reasonable inspection of the premises. Id. at 257, 572 N.Y.S.2d at 675 ("[T]he notion that a haunting is a condition which can and should be ascertained upon reasonable inspection of the premises is a hobgoblin which should be exorcised from the body of legal precedent and laid quietly to rest.").
  • Griffin v. Haunted Hotel, Inc., 194 Cal. Rptr. 3d 830, 242 Cal. App. 4th 490 (2015). A patron of a haunted house attraction assumed the risk of injury from being frightened by an actor confronting him with a chain saw. "The risk that a person will be frightened, run, and fall is inherent in the fundamental nature of a haunted house attraction . . . ." Id. at 834, 242 Cal. App. 4th at 493.
  • Galan v. Covenant House New Orleans, 695 So.2d 1007 (La. Ct. App. 1997). "[T]he very purpose of a haunted house is to frighten its patrons." Id. at 1009.
  • Hayward v. Carraway, So.2d 758 (La. Ct. App. 1965). The court held that believing that house is haunted was not a defense to liability for vandalism.

Looking for a book? Try this:

  • Douglas Graham, Trick or Treaty?, (Institute of Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand 1997).

If you're looking for a law review article, try this:

  • Adam Chodorow, Death and Taxes and Zombies, 98 Iowa L. Rev. 1207 (2013) (probably can be used to support the proposition that taxes are very scary).

And here's a link you'll want to explore further: the Harvard Law School Law Library's Halloween and the Law.

Happy Halloween!

Hat tips to Adriana Duffy, Kim Holst, and Tami Lefko.


October 30, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Finding Transcripts of Oral Arguments Before the U.S. Supreme Court

This week marked the first Monday in October and the start of a new U.S. Supreme Court Term. It promises to be a blockbuster year for the court with many interesting cases. Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether Title VII's prohibition of discrimination based on "sex" also applies to "sexual orientation" and "transgender."

The transcripts are available shortly after the oral arguments conclude. Click here to have a look. Recordings (but not video) of oral arguments will be release later in the week (on Friday).


October 8, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 4, 2019

The First Monday in October

When the 2019-2020 Supreme Court Term opens on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will try out a new rule that the lawyers will have two minutes to talk before the Justices interrupt them with questions. Read more about the new rule here.

In the early days of the Republic, arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court might go on for a couple of days. Today arguments are limited to an hour (half an hour for each side).

Cases consolidated for argument can also be limited to an hour even though there are two cases being heard. We'll see that on Tuesday October 8 when the U.S. Supreme Court will hear two consolidated cases in one hour: Bostock v. Clayton County and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda. Those two cases involve the question of whether Title VII extends to sexual orientation discrimination. That consolidated argument will be followed by R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC, a case that will consider whether Title VII extends to gender identity. These three cases are the first LGBT cases to come before the Supreme Court following the departure of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was often the "swing vote" in earlier LGBT cases.

Hat tip to Heather Baxter for sharing news of the new, two-minute no questions rule.


October 4, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)