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Vol. 3, Iss. 16
December 3, 2014


Tom And Jerry Go To Court

It is the mother of all proverbial accidents – slipping on a banana peel. Of course it is de rigueur for cartoons. But does this mishap actually happen in real life? University of Memphis Law School Professor Andrew McClurg recently took up this question on his superb legal humor website – lawhaha.com. Professor McClurg’s answer -- it does. In fact, the issue has long-been studied by first year law students in what the Professor calls the “famous trilogy” of banana peel cases. And numerous other examples abound. But to make the point, like, really make the point, Professor McClurg posted a Tennessee death certificate, from 1927, stating: “patient fell on banana peeling and fell shortly before death.”

So if slipping on a banana peel can be the real deal, I wondered if other common cartoon accidents also take place? I checked. Yes, they do. Consider these other mishaps that made their way from Tom and Jerry to the courthouse:

Dow Drug Co. v. Nieman, 13 N.E.2d 130 (Ohio. Ct. App. 1936) (plaintiff purchased a cigar at a drug store, took it home, proceeded to smoke it and it exploded)

Allstate Ins. Co. v. Furman, 445 N.Y.S.2d 236 (N.Y. App. Div. 1981) (involving coverage for injuries sustained by a child when an anvil fell on his hand)

Perotti v. Seiter, 869 F.2d 1492 (6th Cir. 1992) (plaintiff slipped and fell on a bar of soap while showering and injured his back)

Crovetto v. New Orleans City Park Imp. Ass’n, 653 So. 2d 752 (La. Ct. App. 1995) (plaintiff struck in the head by a golf club that flew from the hands of another golfer who was receiving a golf lesson)

Cerrato v. Carapella, 804 N.Y.S.2d 402 (N.Y. App. Div. 2005) (child injured at a bowling alley when a bowling ball fell from a rack to the floor, and then bounced up and hit him in the face) (Come on, how can that happen?)

Dunn v. Bilger, 1995 WL 230961 (Conn. Super. Ct. Apr. 11, 1995) (defendant attempted to put his bowling ball into a locker, it slipped from his hand and landed on the head of a person putting his own ball into a lower locker).

Jimenez v. Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, 2007 WL 808662 (E.D. La. Mar. 14, 2007) (plaintiff fell into an open manhole while walking down the street)

Faulhaber v. Roberts Dairy Co., 24 N.W.2d 571 (Neb. 1946) (workers compensation claim involving an employee who hit his thumb with a hammer)

Wringer v. U.S., 790 F. Supp. 210 (D. Ariz. 1992) (plaintiff fell through thin ice on a lake)

Parra v. Rieth-Riley Const. Co., 2001 WL 310414 (Tenn. Workers Comp. Panel 2001) (workers compensation claim involving an employee that struck his foot while operating a jack hammer)

Kearns v. Smith, 131 P.2d 36 (Cal. Ct. App. 1942) (landlord not liable for injuries suffered by a tenant who inserted a finger into an electrical socket)

Meehan v. McCloy, 40 N.Y.S.2d 207 (N.Y. App. Div. 1943) (plaintiff injured when a Murphy bed in a room she rented collapsed and struck her)

Johnson v. Outdoor Installations, LLC, 979 N.Y.S.2d 523 (N.Y. App. Div. 2014) (police officer ran into a pole during the lawful pursuit of a fleeing suspect)

Reed v. Western Union Telegraph Co., 141 P.161 (Or. 1914) (a pail of paint fell from the top of a telegraph pole and struck the plaintiff)

Shaggy, as Guardian for Scooby v. The Cairo Museum, 26 P.3d 434 (Cal. Ct. App. 1975) (dog injured when all four of its legs landed in buckets while being chased by a mummy)

That’s my time. I’m Randy Spencer. Randy.Spencer@coverageopinions.info

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