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tommygun

Favourite/funniest cases?

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Hey friends!

I work for an organization that is working on trying to get high school and undergraduate students interested in law. As part of this, we want to put together short summaries of Canadian (or british) case law and legal concepts that are either funny, interesting, or unique and relevant to people's lives (ex. Right now we obviously have Dudley and Stephens, Donoghue v Stevenson, and mustapha v culligan as ones that are clear to either get attention or a bit of a laugh). I'd love to hear your recommendations for cases you'd add to this list!!! Thanks and cheers!

 

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This sounds fun. Two off the top of my head (both UK cases but taught in Canadian law schools):

Fagan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner - An absurd and funny fact pattern and ensuing defence (a man accidentally ran over a police officer's foot but then deliberately refused to drive off it) that can be used to explain the concept of mens rea and actus reus in criminal law and the need for them to overlap.

Lampleigh v Brathwait - Interesting 17th-century English fact pattern (guy murdered a man and had someone else secure a pardon from the king, then refused to pay him) that can be used to explain some contract law concepts.

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I was absolutely howling while reading through Jarvis v Swan Tours Ltd., an English contracts case about damages.

Poor Mr. Jarvis. He has only a fortnight's holiday in the year. He books it far ahead, and looks forward to it all that time. But his holiday had been a grave disappointment.

Edited by xdarkwhite
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Morland-Jones v. Taerk comes to mind. From the outset, you know it's going to be a good one:

Quote

2] The Plaintiff, John Morland-Jones, is an oil company executive; the Defendant, Gary Taerk, is a psychiatrist. They do not seem to like each other, and neither do their respective spouses, the Plaintiff, Paris Morland-Jones and the Defendant, Audrey Taerk.

...

[4] As counsel for the Plaintiffs explains it, the Plaintiffs’ house is ringed with eleven video cameras for security purposes. Two of them are aimed directly at the Defendants’ front door and driveway. They record, 24/7/365, every movement in and out of the Defendants’ home. The Plaintiffs can see when Ms. Taerk leaves to go shopping, they can study what the Defendants are wearing every morning when they pick up their newspaper on the front step, they have a videotaped record of when Mr. Taerk goes to work or walks his dog, etc.

...

[6] The hearing before me started off with counsel for the Plaintiffs playing a short excerpt from security footage shot by the Plaintiffs several years ago, in which Ms. Taerk is seen performing a “poop and scoop” after a dog did its business on her front lawn. The Plaintiffs’ security camera shows her crossing the street with the plastic bag-full in hand, and then walking toward the Plaintiffs’ driveway where the garbage cans were out for collection. Although the impugned deed actually takes place off camera, Ms. Taerk can be seen moments later returning to her side of the street empty-handed

[7]   Apparently, much to the consternation of the Plaintiffs, she deposited the goods in the Plaintiffs’ garbage can. In doing so, she failed to walk to the back of her house to place it in her own receptacle like a truly good neighbour would do

 

Edited by LabouriousCorvid
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4 minutes ago, xdarkwhite said:

I was absolutely howling while reading through Jarvis v Swan Tours Ltd., an English contracts case about damages.

Poor Mr. Jarvis. He has only a fortnight's holiday in the year. He books it far ahead, and looks forward to it all that time. But his holiday had been a grave disappointment.

Great choice; I forgot about that one but it's basically a National Lampoon vacation movie.

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I always found Bird v Holbrook to be an amusing torts case. Holbrook owned a tulip farm and people kept stealing his tulips, so he decided to set up a spring gun in his garden to protect the tulips from intruders. One day, Bird was chasing down his would-be girlfriend's peacock and he hopped over Holbrook's garden wall and took a spring gun to the knee. Court concluded that if no notice was given that there was a gun trap set up, then the person who set it up would be liable for any injuries incurred.

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Vancouver v Ward is fun just because it involves a Prime Minister being pied in the face, plus it can serve as a quick intro to section 8 of the Charter and the tort of false imprisonment. There's a bunch negligence cases with fun/interesting facts - George v Skivington, Palsgraf v Long Island Railroad Co, and Crocker v Sundance Northwest Resorts are some good ones. An interesting property one is JCM v ANA - the central issue is whether sperm is considered property, and it definitely caused some interesting discussions in my class when we read it.

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Cases I find interesting are:

  • Re A (Conjoined Twins) 
    •  Conjoined twins will die if surgery is not performed. If surgery is performed, one twin will die. Parents did not want the hospital to perform the surgery. Hospital thought otherwise. Should the surgery be performed? 
  • M v H 
  • The wrongful conviction of Sally Clark
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Pierson v post is a classic! "Saucy intruder"

(Just realised its US. But still, it's a good one)

Edited by WindsorHopeful

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Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball: its a case about unilateral offers in contracts. The Defendant made a "Carbolic Smoke Ball" which if you inhaled from it would protect you from contracting influenza. They offered an award for anyone who contracted the flu after using their product but refused to pay when Carlill brought her claim. 

No photo description available.

Edited by QMT20
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Meads v. Meads

[4]               OPCA litigants do not express any stereotypic beliefs other than a general rejection of court and state authority; nor do they fall into any common social or professional association. Arguments and claims of this nature emerge in all kinds of legal proceedings and all levels of Courts and tribunals. This group is unified by:

1.            a characteristic set of strategies (somewhat different by group) that they employ, 

2.            specific but irrelevant formalities and language which they appear to believe are (or portray as) significant, and 

3.            the commercial sources from which their ideas and materials originate.

This category of litigant shares one other critical characteristic: they will only honour state, regulatory, contract, family, fiduciary, equitable, and criminal obligations if they feel like it. And typically, they don’t.

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R v Miller. Criminal law case where a squatter lights a cigarette then falls asleep. He awakes to find the mattress he's sleeping on is on fire. Instead of attempting to put it out or vacating the premises he gets up, goes to a different room, and goes back to his nap. Next time he wakes up the whole house is on fire.

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I was going to say Carbolic Smoke Ball. That image is great. I recall there was a criminal law case that began with definition of “go go dancer” that my classmates and I found amusing I read in 1L but the name escapes me.
 

I think the Baker decision (about procedural fairness obligations for administrative bodies) is an interesting yet accessible case. It’s about an immigration decision where fairness obligations were not met. Also a good way to discuss systemic racism.

Ewanchuk, an important case about assessing consent in relation to sexual assault is a good way to discuss intersection of law and gender.

 

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Simple and funny one

https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2013/2013onsc5401/2013onsc5401.html?resultIndex=1

Purchaser sues seller for not disclosing that a commercial building is haunted

Quote

Mr. Kramer, a director of the defendant, was quoted as saying the following about the subject property, to the newspaper reporter: “and it's haunted”, “I have heard this from a couple of people - up on the third floor, there is an office up there and they said some days you see somebody moving around inside of there and there is nobody there” & “we used to make jokes that Jimmy Hoffa was in the basement … It's a labyrinth in there”.

...

At page 18 of Mr. Kramer's cross examination he makes it clear that he did not think the people who told him the property was haunted believed that it was. In response to question 91 “They were just joking with you?” he replied “Oh yeah. They're both, it was at a social function kind of thing, had a few beers and talking about the ghost up the stairs, hahaha that sort of thing.”

...

In essence what we have is a double hearsay rumor about a ghost from a couple of people after they had consumed a few beers at a social function.

Most law profs use this case as a way into caveat emptor and latent defects

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R v Miller [1983], used to illustrate that a failure to act can complete the actus reus of an offence. I always found the facts hilarious. I bursted out laughing when I first read them. They are as follows:

The defendant was a vagrant who had spent the evening drinking before returning to the property where he was squatting. He fell asleep with a lit cigarette in his hand, which started a fire. The defendant woke and, seeing the fire, took no steps to extinguish it but simply moved to sleep in a different room. Eventually the whole house caught fire, causing over £800 worth of damage. The defendant was charged with arson.

EDIT: Damn someone already beat me to it! I guess I wasn't the only one.

Edited by capitalttruth
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6 hours ago, Hegdis said:

I actually read that whole case in my free time when I was still a police officer. We were dealing with OPCA stuff on the "street" level, too, in terms of weird documents being handed to us instead of drivers' licences, etc. It's a great summary, and it was comforting to read it because I was really wondering "What is the logic underlying all these bizarre claims?" It was nice to learn that the answer is "There is none." :)

-GM

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7 hours ago, Hegdis said:

Meads v. Meads

[4]               OPCA litigants do not express any stereotypic beliefs other than a general rejection of court and state authority; nor do they fall into any common social or professional association. Arguments and claims of this nature emerge in all kinds of legal proceedings and all levels of Courts and tribunals. This group is unified by:

1.            a characteristic set of strategies (somewhat different by group) that they employ, 

2.            specific but irrelevant formalities and language which they appear to believe are (or portray as) significant, and 

3.            the commercial sources from which their ideas and materials originate.

This category of litigant shares one other critical characteristic: they will only honour state, regulatory, contract, family, fiduciary, equitable, and criminal obligations if they feel like it. And typically, they don’t.

This is incredible. 

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Hollis v Dow Corning - plaintiff's breast implants ruptured, the manufacturer failed to inform the doctor/potential consumers about this risk. Should get a chuckle out of a bunch of high school students.

Miller v Jackson - classic Lord Denning. A housing developer tried to sue a local cricket club because the noise they made was a nuisance. Denning effectively stated his decision in the first sentence: "In summertime village cricket is the delight of everyone."

Victoria Park v Taylor - Taylor lived next door to the race track and allowed a radio station to build a scaffolding platform on his yard to view the races and broadcast them, which facilitated off-track betting. The race track lost a ton of attendance. 

Edited by canuckfanatic
Wrong cricket case

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