Tuesday, October 13, 2015

So sue me

It may be a hoax, of course. It reads like a spoof headline in an online journal of spoofery such as the Onion. But let us assume that it is real, that a well known national newspaper has recorded what has really occurred in a courtroom in New York.

New York woman sues 12-year-old nephew over hug that broke her wrist
The article explains that the lady, who is taking a child (her own nephew, no less) to court to claim that he used excessive force when hugging her, justifies her actions thus:
“I was at a party recently, and it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvre plate,” she reportedly said. 
It is notoriously difficult to hold hors d'oeuvre plates at the best of times (and bloody hard work spelling them as well, thanks cut-and-paste) as many an errant stain on my best party-going trousers can testify, never mind when you've got a glass of lukewarm white wine in the other hand and are trying to cut up a gherkin with a plastic knife whilst weaving around a crowd encircling the waitress with the canapes and avoiding the bloke with the story about the car that just wouldn't start, and his wife with the funny eye, but I digress.

Now this lady [The lady in the news story, not the one with the funny eye: Ed] may be clinically insane or she may be advised by a clinically insane lawyer. The judge hearing the case, who has failed to jail (or is that gaol?) them both for contempt of court and bringing the American justice system into disrepute, may also be barking mad. But again, let us not be hasty. Let us assume all parties in this affair have most of their marbles and are cogniscent, in a legally binding way, of the consequences of their actions.  In which case we must surely contemplate the following drama.

Scene: A New York courtroom. (As I don't know that much about USA legal procedures you must allow a little latitude, alright?)

Clerk: All rise for his honour Mr Justice D. Crockett.
Judge: Now then, I believe we are hearing Pumpernickel vs Pumpernickel, are we not?
Clerk: We are your honour.
Judge: Who is representing the plaintiff?
Hamilton Burger: I, your honour.
Judge: Proceed Mr. Burger.
Burger: Your honour, I intend to show the court that the defendant, Wilhemina Brooklyn Pumpernickel, did wilfully and with malice aforethought dribble on the back of the neck of my client, her mother Chelsea Pumpernickel causing her enormous distress and a cleaning bill of $2.95 plus tip. Damages of at least $2 million are sought.
Judge: Is the defendant represented here?
Perry Mason: Your honour I speak for the defendant, who in any case is not able to speak for herself.
Judge: Why not?
Mason: She is only 11 months old. On those grounds I request this case be struck out.
Judge: Humph. Connell vs Connell has shown that age is no impediment to bringing a lawsuit. Or indeed stupidity. Or naked greed. Proceed, Mr. Burger.
Burger: Your honour, when on that tragic Thursday morning Mrs. Pumpernickel went to pick up her daughter, little did she know the full extent of the tragic events that were to occur.
Mason: Objection. Counsel is lapsing into cheap tabloid journalese.
Judge: Sustained. A little less prolix, Counsel, if you please.
Burger: As the court wishes. My client picked up her daughter and she dribbled on her.
Mason: Objection. Nobody has corroborated this statement and it must be struck out as being hearsay.
Judge: Overruled. I believe there is a suprise witness.
Clerk: Call Cyrus Chandler Pumpernickel.
Voice at back: Call Cyrus Chandler Pumpernickel.
Fainter voice at back, behind the first voice: Call Cyrus Chandler Pumpernickel.
Very faint voice in distance: Call Cyrus Chandler Pumpernickel.
Clerk: Take the book in your right hand and read the oath.
Pumpernickel: Which one is my right?
Clerk: That one.
Judge: Erm, how old is this witness?
Pumpernickel: Nearly free. I'm nearly free and when I am free I shall have a big party with jelly and cake and everyone has to give me presents because I'll be really free, I will.
Mason: Objection. Witness is making predictions not reporting what happened.
Judge: Sustained. Please control your witness Mr Burger
Burger: I'll try but he's an awkward little sod... I mean, yes your honour. Now then, young man, tell the court what you saw.
Pumpernickel: Can't remember.
Burger: whispers What I told you to say when we were outside.
Pumpernickel: Oh yes, she dribbed on Mum.
Burger: No further questions.
Judge: Mr. Mason.
Mason: Thank you.When did this dribble happen?
Pumpernickel: Don't know.
Mason: No further questions.
Judge: Witness may stand down. Go on, shoo. Would counsel like to sum up?
Mason: I have a surprise witness, your honour
Judge: It's very irregular but then you always do this so go ahead.
Mason: I call Monica Rockefeller.
Clerk: Call Monica Rockefeller. (etc etc)
Judge: And who is this person?
Mason: Tell the court what do you do, Miss Rockefeller.
Rockefeller; I work in the dry cleaners in Hackensack. Mrs Pumpernickel always took her clothes to us.
Mason: Do you recognise this blouse?
Rockefeller: Yes, it was the one she said her daughter had dribbled on.
Mason: And what was on the blouse?
Rockefeller: A solution of soap, gelatine and custard powder mixed up and dried to make it look like a child had dribbled.
Sensation in court
Burger: Your honour, this is....I'm fed up, he always does this, I never win anything, I resign.
Judge: Case dismissed. Plaintiff to serve sixty days for wasting my time. See you boys down at the club later.
Clerk: All rise.

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