Thursday, October 23, 2014

BOSTON LEGAL



This comes from The Internet (so it has to be true).  Byline: Boston.  A female executive sued her corporate employer for sexual harassment.  The suit referenced (inter alia) the corporation’s less than sedate Halloween parties with claims of inappropriate dress and behavior.

The corporation’s male CEO, a Halloween devotee, was deposed for six days.  Each day he wore a different Halloween costume.  One day he was decked out as a priest (including a garlic necklace as a vampire repellent).  Another day he was Mr. Peanut.  Unfortunately Mr. Peanut’s top hat was very heavy and when the CEO leaned back the top heaviness toppled him out of his chair.

At trial the CEO dressed like a college professor, complete with a prop pipe.  This must have played well to the jurors because they found in favor of the corporation.  There was also the fact that, despite vociferous objection, the jurors were allowed to see a number of photos of plaintiff dressed “provocatively”—no better and further particulars were provided—at past corporate Halloween parties.  The argument was, Hey, plaintiff embraced the company’s “work hard, play hard” culture and was not a victim of that culture.  Verdict upheld on appeal. 


SPENCER LAW FIRM
Litigation & Mediation

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

TWO MEN OF JURISPRUDENCE

                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                      



—     Pay particular attention to this first clause because it’s most important. It says, “The party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part.” How do you like that?
—     No, it’s no good. Let’s hear it again.
—     “The party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part.”
—     That sounds a little better this time.
—     Well, it grows on you. Would you like to hear it once more?
—     Just the first part.
—     What do you mean? The party of the first part?
—     No, the first part of the party of the first part. 

                                         * * * * *

—     Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here?
—     Oh, that?  That’s the usual clause. That’s in every contract. That just says, “If any of the parties participating in this contract is shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.”
—     Well, I don’t know...
—     It’s all right, that’s in every contract. That’s what they call a “sanity clause.”
—     Ha ha ha ha ha! You can’t fool me! There ain’t no Sanity Clause!

                                                                                                           
from "Night at the Opera" (Marx Bros.)


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

NOT THE SHARPEST CRAYOLAS


A couple of clowns shy of a circus ...



(Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp. US Dist. Court, S.D. Texas)

This case, penned the Court, “involves two extremely likable lawyers”—yes, a nice beginning, but (affability be damned!) things turned immediately ugly—“two extremely likeable lawyers who ... have obviously entered into a secret pact—complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words—to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed.”

The Court was left on its own to deduce whether plaintiff’s claim for injuries suffered while working aboard a vessel using defendant’s dock was subject to Texas’ two-year statute of limitations or the three-year federal statute for maritime personal injuries.  If Texas law applied, plaintiff’s claim was time barred.  This was not an easy task.  And the Court’s apparent frustration bubbled out in its (odd) interjection (made with nary a semblance of a sequitur) that, “[A]t the end of the day, even if you put a calico dress on it and call it Florence, a pig is still a pig.”

The Court summed up with a pat on its own judicial back: “After this remarkably long walk on a short legal pier”—the Court’s analysis was pretty lengthy—and “having received no useful guidance whatever from either party, the Court has endeavored, primarily based upon its affection for both counsel, but also out of its own sense of morbid curiosity, to resolve what it perceived to be the legal issue presented.  Despite the waste of perfectly good crayon seen in both parties’ briefing (and the inexplicable odor of wet dog emanating from such)”—no explanation provided for this stenchy canine comment—“the Court believes it has satisfactorily resolved this matter.”

The Texas statute controls.  Plaintiff loses.

John S. Spencer
www.weeklyopuscule.blogspot.com

If you don’t want to receive further communications from this email address please simply reply: “Cease.”

Friday, May 24, 2013


PERRY MASON 




celebrated his 297 courtroom victories (compared to only 3 losses, and one of those reversed on appeal) by taking his confidential secretary Della Street and, sometimes, the private eye Paul Drake to a restaurant of some high culinary repute for a gourmet meal—the adjective is Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner’s—for a gourmet meal of steak and french fries. Steak has been the center piece of many a Last Meal.  But not so for six time killer Velma Barfield (weapon of choice: arsenic). Just prior to becoming (in 1984) the first incarcerated woman to be killed via lethal injection this (so called) Death Row Granny washed down a mess of Cheez Doodles with Coca-Cola.  

Food Crimes.  They’re not just limited to petty stuff such as a quick snatch & dash of a bag of Doritos® from the local 7-11.  Not too long ago German peculators made off with 11,000 pounds of Nutella® (you know, that funky chocolate-hazel nut stuff). 

There’s no single recipe for a Food Crime.  A quick look on line will provide exemplars of gross foods which clearly constitute overt crimes against good taste and decency.  How’d you like some Casu Marzu, a Sardinina goat’s milk cheese, which during fermentation is purposefully infused with flies which leads to a proliferation in the cheese itself of fly larvae and maggots.  Or maybe you’d prefer Hasma, a desert made from the fallopian tubes of frogs.  Now, some of these foodstuffs might be tough to come by (even at Whole Foods) so you might want to go with a can (Net Wt. 5.5 oz.) of one of Libby’s® readily available delights: the famous Potted Meat Food Product which contains (and this is just the stuff they own up to being in there) mechanically separated chicken, beef tripe, partially defatted cooked beef fatty tissue, beef hearts, water, partially defatted cooked pork fatty tissue, salt, mustard, natural flavorings, dried garlic, dextrose, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrate.

Nor should we ignore those foods that can assault and batter your very well being.  The Carl’s Jr. Six Dollar Guacamole Bacon Burger, when paired with an order of  medium fries and a 32 oz. soft drink, weighs in at 1,810 calories, 92 g fat, 3,450 mg sodium.  But it’s not just carnivores who are prey to such gastronomical attacks: even without a drink or chips the 12" Blimpie Special Vegetarian Sub packs a punch of 1,186 calories, 60 g fat, 3,532 mg sodium.    

So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon ...

(Robert Browning (1812–89) The Pied Piper of The Pied Piper of Hamelin)

John S. Spencer
SPENCER LAW FIRM

Litigation & Mediation

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NOTES FROM A LEXIOPHILE


"So all my best is dressing old words new
"Spending again what is already spent ..."
                                                           (Wm. Shakespeare, Sonnet 76)   



Words—gibbered or written—are an attorney’s stock in trade.  And there are some fine sounding legal phrases which can be trotted out.  Duos exempoator: Quicquid est contra normam recti est injuria. (Whatever is against the rule of right is a wrong.); Res est misera ubi jus est vagum et incertum. (It is a wretched state of things when law is vague and mutable.)  But as to attorneys themselves seldom is heard an encouraging word.  You’re more likely to hear argy-bargy (heated argument) and bumfs (dull, official notices or memoranda); or adjectives such as: sesquipedalian (embracement of polysyllabia); or erinaceous (resembling a hedgehog: Latin derivation, English usage since the 18th century) or inaniloquent (inanely loquacious) or incompt (unkempt, unpolished).  None of which is to say that attorneys might not be adept at eutrapely (pleasantness in conversation: some claim this is one of Aristotle’s seven moral virtues) or skilled at ensorcelling others (viz., bewitching, enchanting or captivating others: from Middle French ensorceler: see sorcery)—particularly jurors whom they might be fleeching (coaxing or wheedling especially by flattery) or sometimes judges before whom they might even stoop to uttering a flagitation (urgent importunity).  But enough of this lexiophilic palaver.  It’s time for me to absquatulate.  Bye!

John S. Spencer
SPENCER LAW FIRM
Sausalito CA 94966
877-999-5200

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

“But I’m not so think as you drunk I am.” (J.C. Squire)


I'd like to say I have this on good authority but I have it only on Internet authority.  Still, it bears an innate believability and came replete with a facsimile of a motion whereby a Colorado attorney sought an extension to respond to a legal proceeding on the grounds that she “had almost completed ... [her] response on the due date ... but suspended her work to take a friend out to dinner for his birthday.  When she came back, she was unable to finish it, due to the wine.  :-) ”  (Yes, the little sideways happy day face thingy was included in the pleading.)  “WHEREFORE ...” she concluded “... inebriation constituting excusable neglect ... the court should grant the ... extension, as it is in the interest of justice.”  Apparently (again, my authority is the Internet) the court—the phrase sober as a judge comes to mind—granted the extension.  (However, please note that the attorney in a reported (purported) email exchange with the original reporters of this matter claims that she withdrew the motion and filed another one.) 

Friday, February 22, 2013

MASCOTS 0 FANS 2

Some might suggest that “Sluggerrr,” the Kansas City Royals’ mascot, should be charged with Aggravated Public Annoyance or arrested just because or maybe put on a drone hit list. 

 That probably ain’t going happen, but Sluggerrr will have to face some civil court music—again.  John Coomer, while attending a Royals game, was struck in his left eye by a foil-wrapped hot dog which Sluggerrr had (allegedly) tossed into the stands as part of a between-the-innings promotion known as the “Hotdog Launch.”  Coomer suffered a torn and detached retina and underwent surgery; he had additional surgery for a cataract; now has an artificial lens in his eye.  Commer sued.  A jury ruled in Sluggerrr’s favor.  A Missouri Appellate Court (recently) reversed the ruling stating (inter alia) that, “Everyone who participates in or attends a baseball game assumes the risk of being hit by a ball, because the risk of being hit by a baseball is a risk inherent to the game.  However, the risk of being hit in the face by a hot dog is not a well-known incidental risk of attending a baseball game.  Consequently, a plaintiff may not be said to have consented to, and voluntarily assumed, the risk merely by attending the game.”  (internal quotations and citations omitted)  Coomer v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp.  (Appeal from the Cir. Ct. of Jackson County, Missouri) (2013) WD73984 & WD74040.)  There’s a somewhat similar California case: “Tremor,” the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes’ mascot, is a seven foot tall dinosaur with a protruding tale.  Once upon a time at the “Epicenter” (Quakes’ home-field) Tremor was getting his freak on in the stands and his tale kept bumping and distracting a fan who, while distracted, was hit in the face by a foul ball.  Summary judgment in favor of Tremor was reversed on appeal.  Lowe v. Calif. League of Prof. Baseball (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 112.