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28 U.S.C. § 1915

We had a request to post the District of Minnesota opinion dismissing the meritless Sinclair v. Obama litigation (discussed May 15), so I have uploaded the magistrate’s thorough report and recommendation in Case No. 08-cv-00360-JMR-RLE (D. Minn.).  Sinclair failed to file objections to the February 25 report, and Judge James M. Rosenbaum adopted it in a summary order dated March 19, issuing final judgment the same day.

Note that the magistrate applied 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) to dismiss the plainly frivolous case sua sponte without requiring the victimized defendants to expend legal fees in responding; in December 2006, I discussed the underuse of this provision in pro se litigation.  More on delusional pro se cases.

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Via the District of New Jersey, please find attached the order dismissing the case in Ward v. Arm & Hammer [sic], 341 F.Supp.2d 499 (2004): no, a baking soda manufacturer has no legal duty to warn users that using baking soda to cook crack cocaine is illegal. (See David Lat’s blog for the complaint.)

We can still find something to complain about, though: the district court has the power under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 to dismiss the case sua sponte as frivolous, which this case was in even the most narrow and technical senses of the word, or even just to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim without waiting for briefing. Church & Dwight Co., the makers of Arm & Hammer, was forced to retain Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to file multiple briefs in the federal court at not inconsiderable expense to rid itself of this nuisance suit.

More on product liability, including many successful cases not much less wacky than this one, on our product liability page.

Update: The post originally protested the granting of in forma pauperis status; David Giacalone correctly points out in the comments that IFP status is automatic without a showing of bad faith, and that my complaint was with the failure of the court to exercise its sua sponte powers to dismiss. I’ve corrected the post accordingly.

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