Sunday, December 20, 2009

Frivolous Lawsuits & Silly Legal Disclaimers Vol 37 Ed 3

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer nor any sort of legal expert.

In my layman's understanding of common law, there is a basic principle called nuisance.

In grad school, I took a class called Environmental Security. It was team-taught by three professors, one of whom was a lawyer. One of the legal principles he taught us in that class was the principle of nuisance. It just kinda made intuitive sense to me and has stuck in my brain ever since. One of the key elements of nuisance was that it had to be something new - it couldn't be a pre-existing condition.

For example, consider the case of jet noise from a Navy airfield. Let's say the airfield is already there. Then some dude decides to build or buy a house next to the airfield. In that case, the guy couldn't sue the Navy because of the jet noise being a nuisance. The airfield was already there, and the guy sure as heck knew it was there and knew there'd be jet noise when he bought the house under the landing pattern. If, on the other hand, the guy had been living in his house, and the Navy came in and built a new airfield next to his house that he already owned, then he could sue the Navy for the nuisance of the jet noise.

For a civilian example, consider a tree that blocks or obscures a neighbor's otherwise-beautiful view. If I buy a house, and there's a tree in the neighbor's yard that blocks my view of the sunrise over Mount Hood, then too bad. I can't sue my neighbor to take down the tree because it's obstructing my view because the tree was already there when I bought the house. On the other hand, if I buy a house with a beautiful view, and then the neighbor plants a new tree that obstructs my beautiful view, then I can sue him for the tree being a nuisance. I was there first.

Alright? Make sense? Are you with me?

Now read this.

So lemme get this straight...

1. You researched the colleges in the area.
2. You went and visited the colleges you were most interested in.
3. You applied to the colleges that met your personal preferences and selection criteria.*
4. Out of the 27 institutions of higher learning in the great state of Vermont (or 2,024 universities in the great U.S. of A.), you CHOSE to go to Green Mountain College where all seven dorms (and bathrooms) are co-ed.
5. Now that you're there, you're suing the college because the bathrooms are co-ed????

*Let's rewind to step 3 above. Shouldn't one of your personal preference / selection criteria have been, "Single-sex bathrooms available"? I suppose when she toured the campus and saw the co-ed dorms and bathrooms, she giggled and girlishly blushed and thought of those times she would accidentally get a peek at some cute guy coming out of the shower. She must not have had any brothers or lived around any guys, because it didn't turn out as sexy and romantic as she thought. Suddenly she finds herself grossed-out by college guys' bathroom cleanliness (or lack thereof), not shutting the door when they pee, or peeking at HER in the shower.

Then again, maybe she intentionally chose this college just so that she could sue them and help pay for the tuition.

Chalk this one up as another frivolous lawsuit to clog our courts and make a laughing stock of our legal system.

I bet the next round of prospective freshmen visiting the campus will discover some silly sign at the front gates, "WARNING: Co-Ed Dorm and Bathroom Facilities. This college is not responsible for any embarrassing or gross experiences related to the personal hygiene of the opposite sex. Because we posted this sign to officially warn you, you can't sue us."

That reminds me... (Warning, tangent ahead.)

When we went to the Kennedy Center on Friday, there was one sign that was duplicated and posted EVERYWHERE. Seriously, there was one of these signs about every ten feet throughout the parking garage. Let's have some fun with this one. I'll pose this as a multiple-choice quiz and see if you can guess it.

What was written on the signs posted every 10 feet in the Kennedy Center parking garage?

A) Speed Limit 5 mph
B) No Back-In Parking
C) Kennedy Center is not responsible for damage or theft of valuables
D) Caution: Speed Bump
E) Absolutely No Drilling in the Ceiling

What do you think? Got your answer? Are you ready?

Friday night was just one of those times when I saw a sign, scratched my head, and said to myself, "Self, I wonder what outrageous and extremely rare alignment of the planets caused them to post THAT particular sign every 10 feet." It's one of those cases where you know they posted the sign because somebody tried it. Otherwise, nobody would have ever guessed that a sign was necessary. The answer was E) Absolutely No Drilling in the Ceiling.


Who could have thought up something like that unless someone had tried it. Why not post signs that say, "No Hitting the Cars with Sledge Hammers" or "No Spray Painting on the Walls" or "No Bazookas Allowed." Actually, I should have included those in the quiz instead. If you had asked me ahead of time, I totally would have guessed "No Spray Painting on the Walls" would be a more likely warning sign than "Absolutely No Drilling in the Ceiling." I would have guessed "No Longaberger Baskets Allowed" would have been just about as probable as "No Drilling in the Ceiling."

Can you imagine the poor guy that says to himself, "Self... gee, what to do on a Friday night? Hmmm. I KNOW!!! Let's go drill some holes in the ceiling of the Kennedy Center parking garage!" Imagine his glee as he put on his toolbelt, grabbed his DeWalt and the drill bits, hopped in his pickup truck and headed for the Kennedy Center. Imagine he was just giddy with excitement as he shelled out his $18 to pull into the parking lot.

Then he read the sign(s).

Imagine his disappointment... the pout on his lips... the slump of his shoulders... the power-drill hanging limply in his hand... It's like they just canceled Christmas.

Now what's he gonna do with his Friday night?


Don the Baptist said...

Some people. What I can't get is why in the world we put up with this nonsense. ...Oh, wait, lawyers.

I once produced a sign for public restroom doors: "You too can master the art of bolts and latches!"

King of New York Hacks said...

WOW...No Drilling in the ceilings? ...that IS a bummer for the ole traditional go to a parking garage and drill the ceiling Christmas...I think I'll knock 3 times on my ceiling in memory of good times gone bye..HaHa ..good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Maryann Morrison and Morrison Intermedia lose Lawsuit

Presss Release

Frivolous Lawsuits are always not good. The above is an example of a suit the defendant claims was frivolous. The defendant stood firm, fought it and won.

The plaintiff, Maryann Morrison and Morrison Intermedia, Inc. filed the suit in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. The defendant was US based. It appeared to be filed for the purpose of a quick financial settlement, but the defendant stood firm. In the end the Supreme Court of B.C. made a decision. The Defendant won the case.

The lawyers on the losing side were Paul Mendes (Lesperance Mendes Lawyers) and Mark Underhill of (Underhill Boies Parker).