Tom & Jerry Go to Court

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Randy spencerRandy Spencer is an attorney who bills himself as "the only stand-up comic to specialize in insurance," and—oh, well, here he is performing at Caroline's, Mr. Skeptic. You don't think that's possible and yet here you are reading a "legal-humor blog." For shame.

Anyway, while Randy's newsletter, Coverage Opinions, is mostly about insurance and is aimed at other attorneys, he also includes humor essays that should not go unread by human beings. I liked "Tom and Jerry Go to Court," in which he noted that there are cases involving the classic "slip on banana peel" fact pattern, and wondered if other cartoonish injuries have also happened in real-life cases.

Of course they have, and Randy has done excellent work compiling the following list. All but one are real. Award yourself 100 bonus points if you can guess which one it is.

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)

Here are just a few from my own archives—these aren't quite as targeted to cartoon-style injuries but are in the ballpark.

Ricks v. Associated Indem. Corp., 242 So. 2d 346 (La. Ct. App. 1970) (finding no contributory negligence by prison guard who fell off doghouse in back of truck after an "unannounced right-angle turn" at high speed)

State Farm Gen. Ins. Co. v. Frake, 197 Cal. App. 4th 568 (2011) (holding injury did not result from a covered "accident" when defendant punched plaintiff in the groin as part of a years-long "cycle of horseplay" they called "testicular tagging")

Helmburg v. Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity Inc., No. 12-C-57 (Cabell County, W. Va., filed Jan. 23, 2012) (alleging plaintiff fell off a deck after being startled by co-defendant's attempt to fire a bottle rocket out of his anus)

Darlene B___ v. Jerusalem Temple Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, No. 2014-07176 G (New Orleans Parish, filed 7/22/2014) (alleging plaintiff injured her shoulder when she fell into the camel cage at defendants' circus after clown backed into her)

Isle J_____ v. Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise, No. 56-2012-00416828 (Ventura County Super. Ct., filed May 4, 2012) (alleging plaintiff holding onto tent at outdoor music festival was carried 10 feet into the air when tent was uprooted by a strong gust of wind).

Be careful out there.