Readers have been sending clips like this about a recent award to a Buffalo-area landowner whose property was inadvertently flooded by a neighboring developer. But this longer Associated Press report gives some context:
Lawyers on both sides said Monday that Marinaccio’s frog testimony amounted to just moments of a more than three-week trial — and may not have affected the jury’s award. The Court of Appeals, however, referred to it in a five-page decision in which it determined that while Marinaccio had been wronged, the developer hadn’t acted maliciously.
Sometimes a colorful detail is just a colorful detail.
Imagine how it would change the practice of litigation if lawyers could be held answerable for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on opponents, witnesses or third parties. Of course that’s not going to happen, since our legal profession is quite good at immunizing itself from exposure to liability for the same sorts of injuries that it sues over when inflicted by others. In this SSRN paper (via Robinette, TortsProf), Alex Long of the University of Tennessee proposes a presumption that lawyers’ behavior is “extreme and outrageous,” a precondition of IIED liability, if they could get disbarred for it.
Lawyer Emmanuel Ludot “is acting for around 100 fans who are members of an association that calls itself the ‘Michael Jackson Community.’ He said that while each fan could be awarded damages of up to 10,000 euros ($A12,400), they were seeking only a symbolic euro.” Jackson’s doctor was convicted of involuntary manslaughter following the singer’s death from an anesthetic overdose. [AFP]
Even as odd lawsuit stories go, this underexplained little account of a product liability claim in Canada stands out. Conceding that having to pick gum out of one’s dentures is not plausibly deserving of C$100,000, does the plaintiff at least deserve points for honesty in averring that her depression lasted only ten minutes? [Edmonton Sun]
Though given the wrong baby to nurse, a New York mother cannot recover cash for “extreme emotional pain,” the state’s highest court having declined review of her case. [Brooklyn Eagle via Scheuerman/TortsProf, earlier]
Per a Connecticut appeals court, looking at an employee and saying “Bang bang” does not, even when added to some other impolite conduct, rise to the level of “extreme and outrageous” behavior required to trigger a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress [Daniel Schwartz]
Should the damages be confined to the unrecoverable costs of the planned wedding, or extend beyond that? [Today Show]
No physical injuries were reported at the time, but “passenger Jewel Thomas said she has suffered severe mental and emotional problems because of the incident on Sept. 22, 2008″ in which an American Airlines plane skidded off the runway onto grass. [AP/WFAA]
“A New Hampshire family who witnessed the Feb. 24 death of a killer-whale trainer at SeaWorld Orlando has sued the company in state court in Orlando, claiming their child was traumatized by the event.” [Orlando Sentinel]
If law firms were asked to pay for all the emotional distress they inflict, there might never be an end to it. [ABA Journal]
“Preventing an individual from jumping off of the 86th floor of the Empire State Building is neither extreme nor outrageous,” wrote Judge Jane Solomon in disallowing the emotional-distress claim of Jeb Corliss, a daredevil jumper who had been prevented from jumping off the skyscraper in 2006. Solomon also found that the owners of the building had not defamed Corliss in legal papers when they called his stunt attempt “illegal.” (He was in fact convicted on misdemeanor charges.) The owners are suing Corliss for damages over the incident, which forced an hourlong shutdown of the observation deck. [AP]
Germany: “Teacher with rabbit phobia to sue 14-year-old for drawing bunny.” The educator “says she was traumatized by the drawing, and claims the girl knew it would terrify her.” [Telegraph]
Nine firefighters died in a blaze at a Charleston, S.C., furniture store in 2007. Now four other firefighters who were on the scene that night, along with two of their wives, have filed a lawsuit claiming emotional distress and depression. They have chosen to sue “the Sofa Super Store, its owners and several furniture manufacturers,” the latter on the theory that their wares should have been made of less combustible materials. [Charleston City Paper, with links to complaints, via Sheila Scheuerman, TortsProf] On the erosion of the old “firefighters’ rule” which prevented rescuers from suing over injuries sustained in the course of their rescues, see our tag on the subject. On the development of lawsuits attributing liability after fires to whole groups of makers of furniture and other furnishings on the ground that they furnished fuel for the conflagration, see this retrospective (scroll) on the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire of 1977, and, relatedly, ourposts on the “Great White” Rhode Island concert fire.
“In a 2000 civil lawsuit filed in Bucks County, Linda Thompson claimed a faulty pump sprayed her with gasoline, leaving her in damaged clothing and with a lingering fear of filling up her cars with gasoline. … ‘(Thompson) is unable to psychologically pump her own gas,’ the suit states. It also notes that ‘(Thompson) becomes ill upon the smell of gas and will not seek to obtain gas until absolutely necessary as a result of this incident.’” Earlier this month Thompson was elected mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital. [Harrisburg Patriot-News on still-pending lawsuit and election]
Scott Thomas Zielinski was shot while robbing Nick’s Short Stop Party Store in Clinton Township, Michigan, at knifepoint, and is serving an 8-to-22 year sentence. Now he’s suing the store’s owner and some of its clerks for in excess of $125,000 for pain and suffering and emotional distress. [WXYZ] More: reader VMS recalls the story of an unrepaired stair tread.