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.
A Thanksgiving charity dinner in San Francisco seems likely to end up in court after three people died and at least 14 people were sickened. The church-sponsored meal at the American Legion hall in Antioch, California served food prepared by various people at home. People became sick within 24 hours of the dinner.
In torts we often discussed plaintiff conduct questions such as assumption of the risk or comparative negligence. A case out of Texas shows how dominant such defenses can be in potential tort actions — negating any potential liability. Tommie Woodward, 28, suffered severe trauma after he reportedly ignored signs, staff warnings, and jumped into a Texas bayou after he taunted an alligator. You can guess the rest of the story.
There is an interesting case out of Denver where Heidi Hemmat at KDVR Fox 31 has resigned after death threats tied to her investigation of a local business. The threat however was not made to her directly but reported by the psychiatrist treating the owner. It appears to be a direct application of the ruling in Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, 17 Cal. 3d 425, 551 P.2d 334, 131 Cal. Rptr. 14 (Cal. 1976), requiring doctors to disclose threats made by patients to their potential victims.