Christmas Torts: The 2020 Listing Of Holiday Mishaps and Madness

’Tis the season for the Christmas tort. For lawyers, Christmas remains a horn-of-plenty for the practice of law. Indeed, mayhem and madness have been part of Christmas since its very founding. Thus, each year we gather for the posting of the annual list of Christmas torts and crimes. Fortunately, the holiday is much more than the entries on the criminal or civil dockets. However, these cases remind us all that, even when chaos lurks around holiday gatherings, we somehow survive and return year in and year out. So Happy Holidays to everyone.

This year, we saw the ultimate Santa mishap when the jolly elf thought it would be fun to dispense with the reindeer and paraglide with a sled filled with presents near Sacramento. The problem its that the reindeer can steer away from obstacles and Santa ran into a power line. The miracle is that the sled hit the power lines just right and Santa was sitting in a way that avoid electrocution.  Santa was red-faced but saved.  The presents were delivered by more conventional means.

Other mishaps are more reflective of the season. Dr. Fauci insisted that Santa could not spread Covid-19 because he has natural immunity. Strangely, however Fauci later said that he vaccinated Santa — seemingly a conflict in the scientific data.  Even worse is the fact that Santa is accused of being a super-spreader in Belgium where 61 of the home’s 169 residents and 14 staff members at an elderly home have tested positive after the elf visited.  This will undoubtedly be the subject of a congressional hearing on what Fauci knew and when he knew it.

This year’s Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center had its own inter-species tort when an owl was found in a tree driven from upstate New York.  This false imprisonment tort however addressed by a relocation to a forest and the owl appeared entirely without counsel.

The greatest tree moment remains the one caught on tape by Aubrey Iacobelli of Tallahassee, who found a raccoon in her tree. Aubrey showed a steely resolve in chasing the raccoon out of the house, even when it took to her chandelier. Both the raccoon and Aubrey were unharmed. I cannot say the same for the tree:


By the way, she is not alone in finding creatures lurking in Christmas tress this year.

That non-injurious result in the Iacobelli home is better than many other holiday mishaps resulting in hospital visits, fires and, of course, thrown backs. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 14,700 people end up in hospital emergency rooms each year from holiday-related decorating accidents, and too-dry Christmas trees cause almost $16 million in fire damage each year.

The annual carnage actually is a sign of the holiday’s success. The Pew Research Center has found that a surprising 90 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas and only 51 percent treat it as a religious holiday.

The separation this year due to the pandemic may cut down a bit on the family reunions that often lead to criminal charges on the holidays. However, that was not the case at the Rogers house where Shirley Rogers, 55, got into an argument with her boyfriend when her sister “attempted to diffuse the situation.” Rogers then allegedly assaulted her sister with a Christmas tree ornament.  That qualifies as both assault and battery for criminal and tort law.

The elimination of parades has also reduced some incidents. Last year, for example, Curtis L. Metz of Illinois was charged with drunk driving after slowly evading the police by driving around a barricade and alongside a Christmas parade in Beloit, Ill. Police did not want to conduct a chase through the parade and just arrested Metz and his passenger at the end. Metz received his fifth drunk-driving charge with added charges of fleeing police and five counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.

Santa did get into hot water this year with an anti-toy-gun message at one mall.  Of course, that is a tad better than last year when Russian families watched as two St. Nicks whaled on each other in a rolling, not-so-jolly rumble. One was heard exclaiming that “this is my territory,” and police believe organized gangs were involved in a “mafia-style territorial dispute.”  This year, in Zanesville, Ohio, the mistletoe (and apparently an abundance of alcohol) led to a ménage à trois with Santa, Mrs. Santa, and an elf. All three were arrested at a shopping mall.

In California, Santa is a bit more law and order, literally. This week officers dressed up as Santa and his elves arrested a car thief in a mall parking lot. That is the ultimate naughty list when you get cuffed by elves and booked by Santa.

Some accused felons often insist on the holidays that they were punished for spreading narcotic cheer. Last year, Richard Ellis Spurrier, 67, said he was overwhelmed by the spirit of the season and started giving away marijuana. Police, appearing to view pot as a gateway drug for more serious offenses, nevertheless charged Spurrier with possession of marijuana with intent to sell.  This year, another accused drug dealer in Pennsylvania insisted that he was also just giving away drugs so he was not a drug dealer but a drug giver.

In North Carolina the Faison family is facing a complaint by their homeowners association after adding a cross to their Christmas decorations. They received a letter declaring”The cross represents the death of Jesus Christ who died for our sins so we can have eternal life. The Christmas season is associated with the birth of the Savior.” The association maintained:

Notably, such actions are contractual rather than tortious or constitutional in character. So blame it on my contracts colleagues.

Given these cases, one perhaps can understand why the Puritans made it a crime to celebrate Christmas in Boston. They refused to open their churches or to close their stores for what they derisively called “Foolstide.” However, the Puritans were never that much fun to start with.

Remember, part of the joy of the holidays is found in having survived it. So, on behalf of my fellow torts and criminal defenses lawyers, I offer a reminder that nothing says “I love you” like a retainer contract for holiday mishaps.


23 thoughts on “Christmas Torts: The 2020 Listing Of Holiday Mishaps and Madness”

  1. The Christmas torts fully shown in the Santa picture on the screen here in the article:. Santa smoking a pipe!
    This encouraged humans, kids included, to smoke. If they do, then they will die from it.

    1. Fauci was an idiot back 30+ years ago..
      Shame on Trump calling him back for Covid.

  2. Telling that Turley has avoided a discussion of the recnt pardons, given that 2 of them – Manafort and Stone – are evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

    Another – Kushner – is just low level family favoritism for a crime the prosecutor – Chris Christie – called “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes” he has pursued.

    1. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.
      The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.

      The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
      For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.

      And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

      And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

      “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

      Gospel of St Luke 2:8-14

  3. Is a “Merry Christmas” possible in a country which just lost its constitutional rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities to a tyrannical, oppressive, totalitarian, communist regime; never to experience a fair election again?

  4. Merry Christmas, Professor and family, Darren, and other good people who gather here.
    Love and joy come to you, and to you glad Christmas, too,…………

    Here’s the most gorgeous Austrian carol, brilliantly arranged by Norman Luboff.

  5. The Puritans may have not been much fun, but they were a major driving force to end slavery.
    See Bury The Chains by Adam Hochschild.

  6. “Dr. Fauci insisted that Santa could not spread Covid-19 because he has natural immunity. Strangely, however Fauci later said that he vaccinated Santa — seemingly a conflict in the scientific data.”

    Not the first time little Tony Fauci got tripped up on the prescribed narrative.

    “When Dr. Fauci said people should not be wearing masks”

    But I have little doubt that the “plague” crowd at NPR will come up with a reason why people who are immune still need to be vaccinated.

    As to the Santa who agreed to be vaccinated. He’s no Santa, he’s just another Seedy Claus.

  7. Remember, part of the joy of the holidays is found in having survived it.

    This challenging year calls us back to the truth that what matters is seeking God’s will for our lives, following his commands, fixing our hearts on heaven as we carry out our duty to love here on earth.

    So, we approach Christmas this year with renewed hope.

    Christmas is the feast of the living God who comes to be with us. In his humility and love, he takes on our human flesh, in all its vulnerability and weakness.

    The saints remind us that Christ was born to die for us, to deliver us from death forever. The crib of Christmas begins a path that leads to the cross of Good Friday. His whole life — from his incarnation to his resurrection — are united in the single mystery of God’s personal love for each one of us.

    We need to remember that, especially this year when we have seen so much loss and sorrow. The coming of Jesus means that death is no longer a barrier, but a gate that opens into the kingdom of heaven.

    Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez

    1. Do you know which country you are in?

      That communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) have invaded America, imposing the principles of their Manifesto, does not bear, it simply requires corrective action.

      “The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

      – Alexander Hamilton

      Every act of “Crazy Abe” Lincoln and his successors was and remains unconstitutional and illegitimate including the improperly ratified “Reconstruction Amendments.”

      America is that which its Founders established; amendments required to have been not “injurious to the Constitution.”

      Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802

      United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” March 26, 1790

      Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person,…

  8. I ignore the religious aspects of Xmas.
    I believe things which have some provable facts. I believe in dogs. Religion is BS. I won’t say what those two letters mean.

    1. “I believe things which have some provable facts.”
      How’s about love, honor, humility and kindness. Believe in those provables?


        George Washington’s Prayer for His Country

        I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have the United States in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Devine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation. Amen

        1. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Admonition for His Countrymen

          “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military/industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

          Eisenhower’s military/industrial complex, the American Communist Deep Deep State, demonstrated the disastrous rise of misplaced power through its theft of the 2020 presidential election, the removal from office of a sitting president, in the same vein as its removing of a sitting president on November 22, 1963, the last time it “corrupted an election” and “tampered with the vote.”

  9. wow. raccoons are vicious around here. no way I would go after one with bare feet. and they carry rabies sometimes. that lady is crazy.
    she could have just baited it with some food outside the doggie door, blocked the other doors to the inside, and waited for it to leave

    my old dogs of blessed memory butchered many rodents, seemingly just for fun, and took off after coyotes more than once. coons didn’t even go near the enclosure

    that lady’s dog not very impressive

    Sal Sar

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