Here's yet another example of California's Prop 65 "warning" label, which has become ubiquitous and therefore pointless for reasons I semi-explained a while back when somebody wanted it put on all cooked meat:
That appeared on Mia Matsumiya's Twitter feed with the message, "[Expletive]. I seriously regret not reading the label before wearing this leprechaun hat on my uterus! Happy St. Pat's."
First, if anyone wants to take a stab at calculating how long you'd have to wear one of these (on any body part) before it would measurably increase the risk of "cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm," please let me know the number of millennia you end up with. (If the thing turns out to be made of plutonium-laced asbestos, consider my opinion revised. Otherwise, not.) Second, anybody who wears a leprechaun hat 24/7/365, or frankly on any day other than March 17, should probably not be allowed to reproduce anyway. So that solves that problem.
Everyone's judgment is totally right, they just rushed to get there. That's all I'm saying.
Sirgiorgio deserves a long sentence, and not just because of his name. He was convicted not only of the stomping and of robbing the stompee, but also of forcing a woman into prostitution and beating her severely. So he's now been convicted of 20 felonies at the ripe old age of 26, and a psychologist testified that he is "100 percent likely to commit crimes again." Supporting that conclusion was Clardy's pleasant demeanor at trial, as this was yet another failure of the "scream obscenities at judge and jury" defense strategy.
Although to be honest, that is one step above actually threatening to kill the jurors and their families if you are convicted, which remains the worst closing-argument strategy ever, and probably the worst one possible.
Anyway, the issue now is whether Clardy can blame Nike for the shoes. His gripe appears to be that Nike did not warn him that using Air Jordans to stomp someone's face could result in a longer sentence than just using his foot. This is wrong for a couple of reasons, one of which is slightly more complicated than the other.
First, he has no claim against Nike because (among other reasons) a manufacturer isn't liable for an alleged failure to warn if the plaintiff's injury resulted from "abnormal handling" of the product. Benjamin v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 61 P.3d 257 (Or. Ct. App. 2002). I don't know what kind of data there is on the use of Air Jordans, but I'd be willing to bet that "stomping someone's face" is not on the short list of "normal" uses.
Second, why is Clardy the one claiming "injury" when he was the one doing the stomping? This seems related to the fact that his crime(s) were considered more serious because he used a "dangerous weapon." For example, under Oregon law using a "dangerous weapon" during a robbery is one of the factors that qualifies it as "first-degree" or "Class A" robbery. Clardy seems to be suggesting that had he known Air Jordans could qualify as "dangerous weapons," he might not have used them, and his sentence would now be something less than a century.
This depends at some level on the argument that one would not expect Air Jordans to be considered "dangerous weapons" in the first place, because there's no requirement to warn about something that should be obvious. (This and other items in the "Warning" category notwithstanding.) And to that extent he has a point. To start with, let us consider the bare foot.
A bare foot (or hand) is not a "weapon." It is a body part. Body parts cannot be "weapons" because there must be a distinction between the two or else it makes no sense to "enhance" a crime for using a weapon; every crime would involve a weapon. If that seems obvious, prosecutors have repeatedly argued to the contrary. It once took the Ninth Circuit 14 pages to explain to them why bare hands are not "weapons," and an Oregon court has had to explain the same thing about teeth. There are states in which courts have held body parts can be weapons, goofy as that is, but Oregon is not one of them.
What about shoes? Certainly you could put something on a hand or foot that would qualify, like brass knuckles or steel-tipped boots. But sneakers? There are in fact several cases in which sneakers have been held to be a "dangerous weapon." Those courts reason that it matters how the thing is used, not just what it is, and so regular items can qualify if used, for example, to stomp a face. But if that were the only factor, then again there would be no necessary distinction between a body part and a "weapon"—it would only matter how you used it. To qualify, I think the item must have some capacity for inflicting more serious injury than the body part would. Again, steel-tipped boots? Sure. Sneakers? I don't think so.
Ultimately, though, this issue probably would not have made a difference. It sounds like he got the long sentence not because he used a "dangerous weapon" but because he was sentenced as a "dangerous offender." That law increases the possible sentence for repeat offenders who suffer from a "severe personality disorder" showing a propensity for violence, which seems like a no-brainer in this case. It doesn't have anything to do with what kind of weapon he used, and so Nike's failure to warn him about that issue could not have injured him.
Full disclosure: my firm represents Nike, but (unfortunately) not in this case.
That's basically the headline of this Guardian article. Technically, I think there should be a hyphen there, because this isn't about an alarming epidemic that just happens to involve clowns, it's about an epidemic of clowns who are themselves alarming. But since such an epidemic would in fact also be alarming, I will let that one slide.
Probably inspired by the spooky clown who was recently spooking people in Northampton, England, people dressed as clowns or wearing clown masks have reportedly been alarming people in Norfolk (also England). Police said that no one had been injured or assaulted, but that in both cases to date "the callers reported being alarmed" and were chased a short distance by the clowns.
A police superintendent urged calm, saying that the clownish individuals are probably just trying to get attention, and that ignoring them might be the best way to go. "Firstly," he noted, "I'd like to stress that it isn't against the law to dress up as a clown." (Maybe not, but remember that at least in the U.S. and Canada, it is illegal in many places to wear a mask at least in some circumstances.) He went on to remind citizens that so far no one has actually suffered a clown assault, "and it appears that the people involved are waiting for a passerby to be startled by their appearance and run away, and then the [alleged] clown runs after them for a short distance.... The most effective way to behave if you are to see someone dressed up [as a clown] is to give no reaction—because that's what they are after."
A third case was reported on Friday in the same area. In that one, witnesses reported the clown was wearing a "blue and red 'onesie' clown suit" along with a red wig and white face mask, and—maybe most alarming of all—he drove off in a white van.
Never one to go in for sensationalism, the Daily Mirror ran the photo above (from the movie IT) along with its story on that case, but did note that "this is a file picture." So, nothing to be alarmed about.
The Marin Independent Journal reports that a gentleman up there has sued Blue Man Group and its management company for allegedly injuring him at a 2011 performance in San Francisco. According to the report, the plaintiff alleges that "[d]uring said performance, a large blue plastic or rubber-like ball was thrown into the audience without warning to Plaintiff. In an attempt to protect himself, Plaintiff extended his left arm in the air to block the ball from hitting him in the face."
Presumably Plaintiff claims he was actually struck by this projectile, whether on the arm or in the face, but if so the report doesn't mention it. (Maybe he dislocated his shoulder?) The complaint does charge that "Plaintiff was not provided advance warning that items would be thrown into the audience, of which he was a member," and that as a result of this conduct Plaintiff suffered "shock and injury to his nervous system" as well as "great mental, physical, and nervous pain and suffering." Plaintiff claims to have more than $40,000 in medical expenses.
The group's website does not appear to have a specific warning about the possibiity of ball-flinging, but the FAQ section does make clear that the show may not be entirely limited to the stage. It notes that the rows closest to the stage are referred to as "the poncho section," and that patrons in this area are given ponchos to wear "because sometimes materials splash the audience." I also note that this promotional clip for the latest version of the show—apparently called "Now With Balls"—actually ends with the Blue Men flinging large plastic or rubber-like balls at the camera:
How much warning do you need?
The lawsuit was filed in June, and according to the court's website the plaintiff still has not filed proof that the defendants were served. Plaintiff's lawyer failed to show up for a hearing on that issue last month, so maybe that says something about his enthusiasm for the case.
The report says that Blue Man Group had no comment, but then they never do.
The release provides "three top tips" in an effort to reduce the number of incidents and calls, tips that boil down to (1) use common sense, (2) always know where the handcuff keys are, and (3) don't stick body parts in places they don't belong.
According to the statement, the Brigade has responded to more than 1,300 stuck-people incidents since 2010, which resulted in 307 injuries and an estimated £377,000 in costs to taxpayers. The incidents included:
18 children who got their heads stuck in toilet seats
17 fingers stuck in toys
Four incidents involving blenders
One adult stuck in a child's toy car
One with his arm stuck in a "portaloo"
One child with a tamborine stuck on its head
And no fewer than 79 incidents involving people trapped in handcuffs.
A Brigade officer speculated that the rise in handcuff-trappings might be due to what he called the "Fifty Shades effect," apparently referring to a series of books in which somebody gets handcuffed a lot. "I'm sure most people [in these situations] will be fifty shades of red by the time our crews arrive to free them," he said, apparently referring to activities in which the handcuffed person or persons in those books may have been engaged.
Somewhat similarly, a number of the incidents involved English gentlemen whose how-do-you-do had somehow become trapped in something. The recalcitrant items included various sorts of rings, a vacuum cleaner, and (one that may well have warranted a 999 call) a toaster. The LFB did not elaborate on this last one, but it is worth noting that you should always unplug a toaster before attempting to pry out a stuck muffin, and never use anything conductive in an effort to do so.
"If there's a genuine emergency," the officer noted, "fire crews will of course attend and will be on the scene to help within minutes." (Possibly faster, and with cameras, depending on what you are trapped in.) But, he continued, "avoidable incidents" like those above should be ... well, avoided.
You know those shoes they make you rent when you go bowling? The special shoes that are so ugly that people won't steal them and so slippery that they won't hamper your bowling? But are also so slippery that they might increase the risk of—well, slipping—if you were to do something dumb like wear them outside in the snow and stuff? Yeah, those shoes.
DO NOT WEAR BOWLING SHOES OUTSIDE. BOWLING SHOES ARE SPECIALIZED FOOTWEAR FOR INDOOR USE ONLY. BOWLING SHOES WORN OUTSIDE MAY BE AFFECTED BY SUBSTANCES OR MATERIALS INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO SNOW, ICE, RAIN, MOISTURE, FOOD, OR DEBRIS THAT MAY CAUSE THE PERSON WEARING THE BOWLING SHOES TO SLIP, TRIP, STUMBLE, OR FALL ON THE FLOOR OR ALLEY SURFACES INSIDE THE BOWLING CENTER. NEW YORK LAW MAKES A BOWLING CENTER POSTING THIS NOTICE IMMUNE FROM LIABILITY FOR SUCH AN INJURY.
Under the proposed law, bowling centers—which apparently no longer wish to be known as "alleys"—would be required to post that notice near each entrance and exit in order to warn their patrons of the dangers posed by this specialized but potentially deadly footwear. Is that really necessary? According to this report, sort of, because there has been an increase in lawsuits by people who did wear bowling shoes outside in the rain or snow and then walked back inside and fell down. (Some believe this is an unintended consequence of bans on indoor smoking, the report says.) The remainder of the bill gives bowling alleys—sorry, bowling centers—immunity from such lawsuits provided that they put up the sign.
Why not just give them immunity and not insult the bowling population's intelligence with signs like this? I don't know. I'm not opposed to warnings in general but pretty soon the surface of every object in view will be covered with them, and then nobody will pay attention to any of them.
One of the bill's sponsors admitted that people should know not to do this but still defended the warning requirement. "[T]here are many laws that provide for warnings to people to do what is common sense," he said, although that is not a reason for having more of those. With the warning, some people "might be reminded that it is unsafe with these particular type of shoes that are designed to slide to begin with." Yes, but that's why you don't need to—oh, never mind.
There is plainly an organized effort under way to establish this immunity nationwide—Illinois passed a nearly identical bill in 2009 and Michigan did the same in 2011. All three states have labeled the legislation "The Bowling Center Act." I'm fine with the immunity, if lawsuits have made it necessary. I guess I am opposed to making it part of the rebranding effort, if that's what's going on. "Bowling alleys" were good enough for Grandma and I don't see why they need a makeover now.
In the UK, unshelled peanuts are called "monkey nuts," as depicted here, but although this story therefore involves people being "warned not to eat roasted monkey nuts," THAT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH BY COMPARISON TO MAKE IT INTO THE HEADLINE.
As noted at Overlawyered, this is by no means the first time this sort of thing has happened. But it never gets much easier to believe.
Last week, the E H Booths company announced (right) that it was withdrawing a number of packages of the aforementioned Roasted Monkey Nuts—which are peanuts—because it had learned to its dismay that "peanuts are not mentioned as an allergen on the back of [the] pack." That was true, but on the plus side the package did say "Roasted Monkey Nuts" on the front of the pack and was made partly of transparent plastic so that the monkey nuts could be seen inside the pack. (This is not an actual E H Booths package, but reports are that those are similarly transparent.) The actual peanuts could not be seen inside the peanut shells, of course, and this seems to have been the source of the public danger.
"If you have an allergy to peanuts," the alert continued, please do not consume this product [because it is peanuts]. No other products are affected by this issue [because those products would not be peanuts] and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused." The alert has been posted in stores and also on the website of the UK's Food Standards Agency. The company was also said to be contacting the relevant allergy support organizations so they could tell their members about the problem. I would say, though, that if these organizations haven't already successfully educated their members on what the thing they are allergic to looks like, we should not rely on them as the first line of defense against the threat of unlabeled monkey nuts.
A commenter at Overlawyered pointed out, correctly, that despite the name and appearance, the peanut is not actually a nut. It's a goddamn legume, like beans and peas. (The regional term for peanuts in some parts of the American South is "goober peas," the "goober" part allegedly coming from nguba, the Bantu word for "peanut.") Fine, but that has nothing to do with this story. According to the BBC, "monkey nuts" just means unshelled peanuts, and so anyone with a peanut allergy is not going to be confused by this alleged nut/legume dichotomy. The real point of this paragraph, though, is to note that the Wikipedia entry on "Goober Peas," a traditional Southern folk song about peanuts, claims that the song is "frequently covered by pop singer Elton John during live shows," which has got to be complete bullshit.
I'm not buyin' it
If you have ever actually witnessed Elton John covering "Goober Peas" in concert, please let me know at once. I may still need a bootleg of this before I'll be willing to believe it.
Let me be clear: the "heads-up" display in the bottom right of these ski goggles is completely awesome. Not that it's information you need to know, but it's cool and doesn't seem any more dangerous than displays of similar information on the windscreens of fighter planes and so forth. Getting information is not the same as engaging with it and so doesn't take as much attention away from what you are doing, like having fun and/or trying not to die. The potential problem, though, is that the Oakley Airwave also allows you to "view incoming calls and text messages."
Unless the message is "TREE IN PATH," it can wait.
The inevitable lawsuits will probably not be deterred by the prominent warnings in the product manual, like this one:
Which is generally good advice anyway, but especially when what you are doing is hurtling downhill on two polished pieces of wood.
The manual also more specifically warns users not to "enter information, place phone calls or send messages while skiing, riding or boarding," and that concentrating on the display while moving could result in death. (On the bright side, when they find your body they will have a record of the awesome hang time you managed on that last jump, and probably can post it directly to your Facebook memorial page.) It also warns that the product is for "winter alpine use only," and should not be used while driving or doing other things like "walking on uneven surfaces."
I guess there's no telling what people could get up to while wearing these, and the manual also tries to warn against other risks such as the possibility that its Bluetooth technology may interfere with other electronic equipment. Users are advised to switch the product off "in aircraft," "near blasting," "before refueling" or "in hospitals and around medical devices." Here's an idea: don't wear ski goggles to the hospital at all.