Like many my family watched the Dick Clark New Year’s celebration on Saturday night (we watched CNN in past years but the inexplicable return of the always vulgar Kathy Griffin finally led us elsewhere this year). Instead we caught the disaster surrounding the performance (or lack thereof) of Mariah Carey. Not only did Carey show the world that she is the worst lip sync artist since Milli Vanilli, but she went on a tirade against Dick Clark Productions about technical problems that DCP says did not exist. Now, 2017 is starting with our first alleged defamation (a promising start) from DCP over her comments. DCP made it clear that Mariah is all wind and that it was her not the equipment that was out of whack on New Year’s Eve.
There was an interesting ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court this month on the interpretation of a 1979 state law governing slip-and-fall lawsuits. It is commonly understood that homeowners are legally required to clear their walks of snow and ice. As a native Chicagoan, this lesson was engrained into me to the point that my kids mock me for shoveling the driveway even when the roads are impassable. I was raised that an uncleared driveway was a matter of public shame. Now, however, couch potatoes can rejoice. The Court has held that the Snow and Ice Removal Act shields property owners from liability if someone gets hurt. Of course, the snow or ice must be due to natural conditions. The case is Murphy-Hylton v. Lieberman Mgmt. Servs., 2016 IL 120394.
There is an interesting case out of Austin Texas that raises the now defunct “coming to the nuisance” doctrine. There was a time that a defendant could move to dismiss a nuisance case on the basis that the plaintiff moved to the existing nuisance only to challenge it in court. That doctrine fell into disfavor, but there continue to be cases where the underlying rationale seems compelling. Take the Westin in Austin. The company built a large hotel right next to the Nook Amphitheater — a huge draw in the city for music. The hotel then objected to . . . you guessed it . . . the music. The hotel is seeking to enjoin the music as harming their business.
If being bitten by the donkey at a “live nativity” Christmas scene was not bad enough, consider being run over by a Christmas float (not the one shown here). That is the holiday memory from this year for Miriam Miss, 59, who stepped into the street to retrieve a free throw and was struck down by a float
“Living nativity” have long been the rage during the holidays, particularly as part of traditions like the one at St Mary’s Church on Holton Road in Wales. The scene includes live donkeys to the delight of the children. However, this year was marred by one donkey taking a bite out of one of the children — thereby bringing together two of my favorite themes: Christmas and torts. The case could come down to the question of a type of “one free bite” rule.
There is a tragic reminder of the different levels of scrutiny and qualifications for pilots — airplane versus hot-air balloons. Alfred “Skip” Nichols, a pilot of a hot-air balloon, crashed last summer in Texas, killing himself and 15 sight-seeing passengers. It now appears that Nichols was taking a mix of different drugs, including the opiate pain-killer oxycodone. The result is a likely push for new regulation and a potential tort lawsuit, particularly after families learned that Nichols, 49, was convicted five times for driving while intoxicated and three times for drug offenses.
There is a truly gruesome controversy in Broward County where parking enforcement officers repeatedly put tickets on the windshield of a SUV three blocks form the Broward County Courthouse without noticing the dead man slumped forward in the front seat. Curious about the stack of tickets on the windshield, Carolyn White walked over to the car and screamed immediately upon seeing the dead body of Jacob Morpeau, 62, in his Isuzu Axiom.