Thursday, September 16, 2004

When the lawyers get involved ...

From defendant's brief, addressing plaintiff's wrongful termination cause of action in Rather and Heyward v. Viacom (2005):

... Defendant was lawfully counting and recounting vast piles of beans when plaintiffs, who were engaged in running a circus in fact if not in law, figuratively dumped a load of excrement into defendant's lap. Said conduct constituted "unlawful touching."

The venerable Georgia decision Christy Bros. Circus v. Turnage, 144 S.E. 680 (1928) bears remarkable similarities to the case at issue. Turnage, "an unmarried white lady," was attending defendant's circus when "a horse, which was going through a dancing performance immediately in front of where [Turnage] was sitting, ... evacuated his bowels into her lap, that this occurred in full view of many people, ... all of whom laughed at the occurrence, that as a result thereof [Turnage] was caused much embarrassment ... the damage alleged was due entirely to the defendant's negligence." (at 681)

The court concluded that "[a]ny unlawful touching ... , although no actual physical hurt may ensue therefrom, constitutes a physical injury ... . The unlawful touching need not be direct, but may be indirect, as by the precipitation upon the body of ... any material substance." (at 681)

When plaintiffs dumped said load into defendant's lap, they simultaneously forfeited ...