Law Schools, Lunacy, Rudeness

Law School Roommate Lunacy: In re Oneida Silverware

University of Alabama School of Law Above the Law blog.jpgWe were pretty lucky in the law school roommate department. During our 1L year, we lived with a high school friend who was in New Haven doing medical research. During our 2L year, we roomed with a friend from college: the brilliant Steve Engel, a former law clerk to Judge Kozinski and Justice Kennedy, who currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel (and who recently testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in that capacity, on the legal rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees).
Both were highly considerate roommates. Neither tried to purloin our silverware, which is the allegation made in this angry letter from a University of Alabama 2L to his former roommate. It begins:

Dear Roommate:

Oneida Journey Silverware Above the Law blog.jpgThis is a letter regarding your use and possession of my silverware and tableware. I regret that I have to tell you this in writing, but all of my attempts to speak to you in person were thwarted by your unwillingness to speak directly to me.

I wish to be as tolerant as possible so we can live together peaceably. However, your impermissible possession and misappropriation of the bulk of my silverware, as well as my stoneware bowls, is no longer acceptable.

The silverware in question was purchased entirely by me for my use. It is relatively new, bought in 2007, and cost approximately $75. The silverware in questions [sic] consists of Oneida’s “Journey” (4 setting) and also an Oneida Silverplate (2-setting which is coated in actual silver). I did not object to you using it at first (although you never asked for permission), but I reasonably thought you understood that your use had to be within some bounds of reason. You have continually used silverware without returning it to the kitchen. This has meant there is insufficient silverware for me, the owner, to use. This is unacceptable under any condition. Placing dishes and silverware in the kitchen does not waive my right to have reasonable possession or use of it.

The letter gets more over-the-top as it goes along. It culminates with a threat to bring a civil action for the tort of conversion.
Read the rest, after the jump.


We don’t believe this letter has been previously posted anywhere (and some quick Google searches didn’t turn it up). But if we’re mistaken, feel free to let us know.
No need to append commentary to this gem. Res ipsa loquitur.
A LETTER FROM A UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA 2L TO HIS ROOMMATE (AT THE END OF THEIR 1L YEAR)
Dear Roommate:
This is a letter regarding your use and possession of my silverware and tableware. I regret that I have to tell you this in writing, but all of my attempts to speak to you in person were thwarted by your unwillingness to speak directly to me.
I wish to be as tolerant as possible so we can live together peaceably. However, your impermissible possession and misappropriation of the bulk of my silverware, as well as my stoneware bowls, is no longer acceptable.
The silverware in question was purchased entirely by me for my use. It is relatively new, bought in 2007, and cost approximately $75. The silverware in questions consists of Oneida’s “Journey” (4 setting) and also an Oneida Silverplate (2-setting which is coated in actual silver). I did not object to you using it at first (although you never asked for permission), but I reasonably thought you understood that your use had to be within some bounds of reason. You have continually used silverware without returning it to the kitchen. This has meant there is insufficient silverware for me, the owner, to use. This is unacceptable under any condition. Placing dishes and silverware in the kitchen does not waive my right to have reasonable possession or use of it.
There is no logical reason for you to have taken, piece by piece, my silverware into your room only to never return it. Your absconding of my property is pointless as it also denies you the ability to use it, since it can never be cleaned or returned to the kitchen. I have attempted to address this situation but your promises of returning them have been false.
Your behavior has crossed the line beyond mere adolescent rudeness into a legally actionable violation. My completed silverware set includes 6 knives, 12 forks, and 12 spoons. Currently, I estimate you have possession of at least 11/12 spoons, and approximately 8/12 forks (including all the more useful dinner forks). You also have possession of all but one of my stoneware bowls. You have taken all of these things one by one into your indecipherably chaotic room, and left them to rot with months-old food residue on them. It would be impermissible for me to enter your room without permission. Further, I could not possibly hope to decipher your haphazard system of storage. What you have been doing with my 11 spoons in your room during the past several weeks I cannot comprehend. You are the only other person in the apartment besides me, and any missing piece must therefore be in your possession (or your fault for losing it).
Therefore, I am giving you an ultimatum. I demand all silverware (listed above) and stoneware bowls (I estimate you have three of them) returned to the kitchen common area in proper condition by *Monday May 14th at noon*. This gives you sufficient time to return these necessary kitchen items to their proper place. Your misappropriation of my silverware has already resulted in a decreased quality of life as I have absurdly had to dine on spoons when forks would have been appropriate. Your actions when living with others have consequences, and proper use of kitchenware is part of being a responsible apartment-mate. Whether or not you can easily find my property is irrelevant. You must return it by the time listed, or be prepared to pay for its value.
Failure to comply with this ultimate will result in legal consequences, including police involvement and a civil claim for conversion. It is against the law to steal property, and “my room is really messy” is not an excuse. It is also an actionable claim.
I wish this could have been done civilly, but your nearly incomprehensible and disrespectful actions have left me no alternative.
Sincerely yours
[redacted]

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