In celebration of Thanksgiving, I give you our annual Turkey Torts of civil and criminal cases that add liability to libations on this special day (with past cases at the bottom). Many criminal defense attorneys and torts attorneys give special thanks for a holiday that can involve copious amounts of alcohol, strained family relations, over-the-hill amateur football players, “Black Friday” sale stampedes, and novice cooks. These cases are why Johnny Carson said “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.”
Conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, a conservative lobbyist and radio host, are outspoken supporters of President Donald Trump and called reporters to come to a Holiday Inn in Washington to hear from a woman who would allegedly accuse Special Counsel Robert Mueller of sexual misconduct. Previously, Mueller referred an allegation to the FBI that women were promised money to accuse him of wrongdoing. With the no show of their accuser, Wohl and Burkman could well be looking at both criminal and civil liability.
Here is our annual list of Halloween torts and crimes. Halloween of course remains a holiday seemingly designed for personal injury lawyers around the world and this year’s additions show why. Halloween has everything for a torts-filled holiday: battery, trespass, defamation, nuisance, product liability and more. This year’s addition is a real dozzy.
Drinking and eating contests were once the rage. While most (though not all) of the drinking contests are gone, eating contests are still prevalent. The risk of choking is obvious in such contests as is tragically evident in Connecticut in a new filing. The family of Caitlin Nelson, 20, is suing Sacred Heart University for her death in a pancake-eating contest. The filing is based on “the preventable dangers associated with amateur eating competitions.”
We just hit another milestone this weekend with over 35,000,000 views. We are also recently closing in on 60,000 followers on Twitter. We like to call the site the “little engine that could” among blogs with our growing collection of people from around the world. Despite a few contributors who insist on personal characterizations and attacks, this site strives to be a place for civil but passionate discourse on legal and policy issues of our time (and perhaps a few wacky stories).
We often use these milestones to look at the current profile of the blog and its supporters around the world. As always, I want to offer special thanks to Darren Smith who continues help up with periodic technical problems and our many regular commentators and readers. We try to keep this blog as an open forum with as little interference or monitoring of the comments as possible. Given our free speech orientation, we try not to delete comments and, for that reason, we are deeply appreciative of how most people avoid personal or offensive comments in debating these issues. Obviously, our open forum allows trolls and others to spew comments that are at times offensive and obnoxious but we continue to believe that civil and balanced comments will prevail. Thank you for voluntarily assuming restraint over the tenor and content of your comments.
A ruling by Division Three of the Washington State Court of Appeals might be worth reviewing for those not only in the state but elsewhere as the opinion demonstrates an interpretation of the federal Truth in Lending Act governing credit card liability of consumers. It could also affect at least in Washington whether to charge a defendant with a financial crime or the possession of stolen property due to a Federal Reserve Board opinion that could affect charging elements resulting from the theft of a CardLock access device.
In Connell Oil, Inc. v. McConnell-Johnson, Appellants “The Marital Community of Erik and Jackie McConnell Johnson” appealed a trial court ruling favorable to plaintiff Washington Corporation “Connell Oil, Inc.” after the oil company demanded damages and attorney fees amounting to $34,649.68 resulting from the fraudulent use of the Johnson’s petroleum CardLock access card after the device was stolen from one of Mr. Johnson’s farm vehicles. Defendants claimed that they were not fully liable for the unauthorized charges under the federal Truth in Lending Act which ordinarily protects consumers from fraudulent credit card charges.
The Court “conclude[d] the trial court did not err when it ruled that the stolen cardlock was not a credit card for purposes of TILA and entered judgment in favor of Connell Oil.” Connell Oil received an award of attorney and legal fees as it was the prevailing party.
We previously discussed the torts case involving the Kansas City Royals mascot Slugerrr, who blew out a fan’s eye with a foil-covered hotdog launched with an air cannon. Now the Phillies’ could be facing a similar lawsuit after Kathy McVay was hit by a duct taped hotdog launched by the Phillies mascot Phanatic.
There is an interesting case out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Allen v. Walmart, 2018 WL 4998231 (5th Cir. Oct 16. 2018. Judge Edith Brown Clement ruled for Walmart in a novel claim that the chain should not have sold Karalee Alaine Williams a dust remover. Williams was found dead in the parking lot after inhaling the product. It reads like a dram shop claim for dust removers. Notably, Williams kept returning in worse and worse shape, including her final visit naked from the waist down — but was still sold additional dust remover. Her mother brought an array of claims, including negligence, negligence per se for violating Texas Health & Safety Code Chapter 485, negligent entrustment pursuant to Restatement (Second) of Torts § 390 and breached a duty to Williams under a theory of premises liability. She also alleged that Wal-Mart owed Williams a duty in the products liability context, invoking Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 82.003(6) (2009).
The unfolding drama over the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford just got even more bizarre as Ed Whelan, president of the conservative Ethics and Public Center (EPPC) released the picture of a remarkably similar looking teenager who could have been the culprit in the alleged attempted rape. While Ford insists that she could not be mistaken, the release of the photo adds a new element to the hearing . . . and could raise some interesting legal issues after suggesting Chris Garrett (right) could be responsible for the attack. The problem is that there is not a single scintilla of evidence that has been offered to link Garrett to the alleged assault. He has simply been drop into these boiling cauldron and the only explanation is his similar looks and home in the area (which is hardly surprising for schoolmates who attended the same school).
In Sandston, Virginia, Bryan Tucker is not known as kid friendly. Tucker was upset that kids would stray into his yard while waiting for the bus. His solution? He installed an electric fence and started shocking kids.
Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has long been an perpetual litigation machine. Indeed, Moore and his wife appear to have created a cottage industry out of being themselves — getting people to give them huge amounts of money to fight their enemies. I have been skeptical of these past lawsuits — as well as Moore’s often bizarre conduct. Now, after the prior lawsuit amounted to nothing, Moore is launching yet another lawsuit. The latest claim is based on Moore’s sitdown with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his Showtime series “Who is America?” Essentially, Moore is complaining that he made of fool of himself because Cohen tricked him. Moore has demanded $95 million in punitive and compensatory damages. Despite my long admitted aversion to Moore, the complaint does raise some interesting, and unresolved, legal issues. It also presents some risks for Moore himself. Continue reading “Moore Sues Showtime and Sacha Baron Cohen For Embarrassing Interview”→
Elon Musk appears to be withdrawing his earlier apology and doubling down on his bizarre personal attack on Vernon Unsworth, who helped rescue the young soccer players and their coach from the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Thailand. Musk suggested Unsworth was a pedophile after Unsworth criticized Musk’s rescue submarine. Now Musk is asking why Unsworth did not sue him and why reporters never investigated the allegation — a suggestion that “truth is a defense” defamation. Update: Unsworth counsel has now confirmed that a lawsuit is being prepared.