Legal Briefs: August 14, 1998

Contents:* He’s Dead, But Still Practicing Law
* Here’s the Beef! — And the Lawsuit
* Student Shows That Lawyer-Driven Science is All Wet
* Car Crash Leads to Switched Gears in Man’s Sex Drive 

He’s Dead, But Still Practicing LawThe following is a transcript of a line of questioning between a lawyer and a doctor, as printed in the Notes and Asides section of the National Review magazine, August 3, 1998:

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?

A: No.

Q: Did you check for blood pressure?

A: No.

Q: Did you check for breathing?

A: No.

Q: So then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?

A: No.

Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?

A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

Q: But could the patient have been alive nevertheless?

A: It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.


Here’s the Beef! — And the LawsuitThe Charleston Daily Mail reported on July 25 that vegetarian Patrick Fish, 30, has filed a $30 million lawsuit against Wendy’s restaurant after having discovered a veggie pita he ordered from a Wendy’s in Utica, New York contained gelatin. Gelatin is made from animal tissue and is often used to thicken low-fat foods.

Fish accuses Wendy’s of misrepresenting its “garden veggie pita” as vegetarian fare, and claims he only purchased the product after being assured by Wendy’s employees that it contained no animal by-products. “It is hard for non-vegetarians to understand,” lamented Fish, comparing his experience to someone unwittingly eating human flesh. “You feel like you’ve been tainted.”

Naturally, Lige Weill, president of the Washington, DC- based Vegetarians Awareness Network, has announced that his group is considering filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of all similarly duped vegetarians.


Student Shows That Lawyer-Driven Science is All Wet14-year-old Nathan Zomer provided his high school classmates with a powerful lesson on how lawyers can sway juries with fragments of scientific data.

According to a July 26 op-ed in the Orange County Register, Zomer called his classmates’ attention to an unrecognized killer called dihydrogen monoxide. Dihydrogen monoxide is lethal if inhaled, causes severe burns in its gaseous state, and is the major new component in acid rain. When asked, “What should we do about dihydrogen monoxide?” Zomer’s classmates replied overwhelmingly, “Ban it.”

The problem? Dihydrogen monoxide, or H2O, is more easily recognized by its common, and less frightening, name: water. While humorous at first, Zomer’s lesson shows us how trial lawyers can turn bits of scientific data into bans, court cases, regulations and million-dollar fees.



Tort D’Jour

Car Crash Leads to Switched Gears in Man’s Sex DriveOnce again, an Ann Landers column has provided another look at an outlandish jury award from a bizarre lawsuit. A 27-year-old Michigan man was awarded $200,000 after claiming a rear-end auto collision with a truck turned him into a homosexual. The man filed suit against the owners of the truck, alleging that the accident left him unable to carry on a normal sexual relationship with his wife. Furthermore, his attorney told the jury, the man left his wife, moved in with his parents, began frequenting gay bars and perusing homosexual literature.

In addition to the $200,000 awarded to the man, the jury also awarded $25,000 to his wife.

Legal Briefs wonders if the man plans to use the award money to move out of his parents’ house and get his own place.

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