You Deserve a Break Today: Elderly Couple Trapped in Car By Falling Golden Arches

imagesFor those lawyers seeking to establish that fast food is a dangerous product, they may have the perfect clients in Russell and Carolyn Janke, who had the Golden Arches literally land on them. The giant sign blew off its base on the Navajo Nation reservation and crushed their Chevy Trailblazer.

Pictures in the articles below show that factual causation and identification of the plaintiffs should be a bit easier with the Golden Arches embedded in the truck of the retirees. It is the ultimate in a McTort delivered to your car — hold the discovery.

It could make for an interesting question of legal causation. The sign blew off in winds that might have topped 60 miles an hour. Obviously, such signs have to be designed to withstand heavy winds but 60 miles an hour may be near the limit. Local authorities are already calling it a “freak accident” but I am not so sure. Sixty miles an hour winds is clearly high but not unheard of winds.

Carolyn Janke, 68, had to be cut out of the vehicle and both were severely injured. Notably, a man who works in the area, Richardson Laughing, said that locals were concern about the stability of the sign for a while — laying the groundwork for a lawsuit. Such testimony could be determinative given his claim that
he has “seen it blow back and forth in the wind” for years and has “been saying to my wife that it’s going to blow over sometime.’’ He would appear ideal and McDonalds will be hard pressed to convince a court that this is no Laughing matter.

For the full story, click here.

9 thoughts on “You Deserve a Break Today: Elderly Couple Trapped in Car By Falling Golden Arches”

  1. This article in the Navajo Times provides even more details about the property damage and serious personal injuries.

    It’s worth noting, however, that if the couple decides to sue they won’t be able to use state or federal courts. Because the McDonald’s is located on reservation property and is (in all likelihood) owned and operated by Navajo tribal members, tribal sovereign immunity will require the plaintiffs to use tribal courts. See, for example, this article(giving an overview of tribal sovereignty and Indian law as it relates to legal action or claims by non-Indian citizens).

    This case out of Florida describes how a woman who was injured in a Seminole Hard Rock Casino was unable to sue in U.S. courts because they lacked jurisdiction. Although there are no signs giving notice, each time you set foot on one of these business establishments you effectively cross the state border into a foreign territory and lose most of your traditional American legal rights.

    In the Golden Arches case, the couple will need to use Navajo tribal courts to litigate their claims. And as this law journal article describes, their tradition of tort law (referred to as nalyeeh) is unlike the Anglo-American concept. It relies on principles of community-based restorative justice rather than focusing on intent, causation, fault or negligence in pursuit of monetary windfalls.

    Nonetheless, the cases cited in that article indicate that victims are usually adequately compensated for their losses.

  2. Patty C 1, April 17, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    jonathanturley 1, April 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Brilliant I will change the title!

    What was the previous title, JT?

    I was waiting for Mr. Turley to respond. It was something to do with “McTort:Elderly Couple Trapped in Car By Falling Golden Arches” or something like this.

    I ran the jingle up and the next response was what was stated.

  3. jonathanturley 1, April 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Brilliant I will change the title!

    What was the previous title, JT?

  4. You know if you think of the irony, Golden Arches, Golden Days, Golden Gates.

    Oh my and leave the Golden showers out as it probably had a lot to do with depends.

    I amuse even me.

  5. Isn’t there some sort of cosmic, deeper symbolism here? The Golden Arches, the ultimate symbol of the White Man’s folly, comes crashing down on Native American land? You can’t make this stuff up…

  6. Now the jingle goes like this “You deserve a break today” McDonalds. This is interesting to say the least. I did kind of smile, Today.

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