Deaths

Audi A8 car Tomas Delgado Spain Above the Law blog.jpgThe rain in Spain falls mainly on… a**holes? Well, only if most Spaniards are like Tomas Delgado — and we’re guessing (and hoping) they’re not.
After all, since chutzpah like this doesn’t come along often. Our latest Lawsuit of the Day hails from Spain, via CNN:

A Spanish businessman withdrew a controversial lawsuit Wednesday against the family of a teenage boy he struck and killed while driving a luxury car.

Tomas Delgado had filed a suit asking the dead boy’s parents to pay him €20,000 ($29,400) on the grounds that the collision that killed their teenage son also damaged his Audi A-8.

After public outrage ensued, Delgado dropped the suit — but was none too happy about it:

The businessman had insisted in a recent television interview that he was a victim, too. He was not present for a court hearing Wednesday. His lawyer told the court that Delgado felt that the extensive publicity amounted to a public lynching.

A high-tech lynch mob for an uppity Audi driver. Who was reportedly driving 107 miles per hour in an area where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour. Who hit the boy from behind, according to the boy’s father, and “dragged [him] 106 meters (347 feet) along a rural highway.”
Read more in the full article (which includes an interesting digression about how quickly you need to file your notice of appeal in Spanish courts; their appeal periods make ours look like an eternity).
Driver drops bid to sue family of boy he killed [CNN]

* “T.Owes.” [ESPN]
* Rebates to $500? [CNN]
* AG Mukasey won’t label waterboarding. [MSNBC]
* Sen. McCain wins Florida, Rudy to bow out. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Federal inquiry into stolen artifacts expands. [New York Times]
* Margaret Truman, only child of President Truman and author of mysteries set at the Supreme Court and the FBI, RIP. [AP]

* Resignation in Detroit text-message scandal (previously discussed here). [Detroit News]
* A proud American tradition unknown in the rest of the world: bail for profit. [New York Times]
* Legal luminaries at the SOTU. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Trial begins in alleged microwaving of infant. [CNN]
* TRO against Patriots’ Moss extended until after Super Bowl. [SI]
* Mortgage crisis may affect litigation departments. [WSJ Law Blog]
* U.S. jails Colombian FARC leader. [BBC]

* Top candidates turn to trial lawyers for support. [Washington Post]
* More recusal requests expected in WV Supreme Court. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Former NFL player’s wife files malpractice suit over surgery. [ESPN]
* Suffrage suffers in Mexico. [MSNBC]
* How to count primary delegates (and an explanation of the “superdelegates”). [New York Times; New York Times]
* “It’s just not realistic” to present major new initiatives, but the SOTU will still be on every channel tonight. White House speechwriters are not on strike. [CNN]
* Super-litigator Tom Barr of Cravath, RIP. [New York Times (death notice); WSJ Law Blog]

Heath Ledger Heath A Ledger Heathcliff Andrew Ledger death overdose suicide Above the Law blog.jpgWe wish we knew how to quit… finding legal angles to every story under the sun. One such story is the recent, tragic death of Heath Ledger, the celebrated young actor.
We’ve noted the news in passing. Now we offer more substantive, law-related discussion (beyond fleeting references to NYU law students who went from their seminars about Jesus to join the crowd of gawkers assembled outside Ledger’s apartment).
1. Rights to remains. Sometimes this can become an issue, as it did in the case of Anna Nicole Smith. Earlier this week, the Ohio Supreme Court heard a case about a law providing that body parts removed during an autopsy are classified as medical waste (which usually results in the incineration, rather than burial with the body).
It fortunately appears this won’t be an issue in Ledger’s case. Although additional blood and tissue testing still needs to be done, his family will be taking custody of his body, according to the NYT’s City Room blog.
2. Pending projects. Heath Ledger’s sudden passing raises issues with respect to projects he was involved with. From the Hollywood Reporter:

Of particular importance to Hollywood will be the future of Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which had very recently begun shooting. After dealing with the shock of losing Ledger to unfortunate circumstances, the film’s producers and lawyers will have to consult with their production lawyers and the insurance firm that indemnified the film to decide whether to recast, restage and/or rewrite the film to work around Ledger’s absence, or whether Ledger’s death presents an irresolvable barrier to completion of the film.

More analysis, including discussion of insurance recovery issues, over here.
3. Funeral protestors. Exact funeral plans for Heath Ledger are not yet known. But when it does happen, it could get ugly. A tipster raises a legal question:

Check out this story [about how members of the antigay Westboro Baptist Church plan to protest at Heath Ledger's funeral, because of his work in "Brokeback Mountain"].

Here’s my question. These [SOBs] are saying horrible, offensive, disgusting things. When does the fighting words doctrine come into play, and does the fighting words doctrine protect me if I punch out one of these bastards? Because I would really like to.

Feel free to opine in the comments.
Update: More about that Jesus seminar, from the WSJ Law Blog.
Heath Ledger’s Death Leaves Big Legal Question [THR, ESQ. / Hollywood Reporter]
Anti-Gay Church to Protest Ledger Funeral [ABC News]
What Are They Teaching at NYU Law These Days? [Traditional Notions]
Where Were You When? [Concurring Opinions]
The Passion of the Christ: The Trial of Jesus [NYU School of Law]

* Hot lawyers make more money. And we needed a study to tell us this? [Legal Blog Watch via ABA Journal; WSJ Law Blog]
* A truly insane murder case. And yes, Debra Opri — who has represented Michael Jackson and Larry Birkhead, among other boldface names — is on the scene. [DealBreaker; HedgeFund.net]
* Ann Althouse wonders: “We’ve already seen every possible permutation of Hillary, haven’t we?” (And this is why we adore HRC — she’s the Madonna of modern American politics, constantly reinventing herself.) [Althouse]
* When it comes to law firm partnership, breaking up is hard to do. Especially when criminal charges are involved. [National Law Journal via Blogonaut]

Benazir Bhutto Pakistan Above the Law blog.jpg* Rest in peace, Benazir Bhutto; God knows you weren’t able to live in it. [CNN]
* That seems like a pretty good starting point for liability against the zoo. [BBC]
* We don’t know if you know Tom Goldstein, but he’s a pretty big deal. [SCOTUSBlog]
* If he could only apply all of that genius to acquiring some money to actually make a mortgage payment… [WSJ Law Blog]

staph infection staphylococcus Above the Law blog.jpg* Family to sue NYC over staph death. [CNN]
* Nader sues DNC for trying to win 2004 Presidential election conspiring against him in 2004. [AP via Breitbart]
* Should law school be more like business school? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Georgia to $336,000 in child support! [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* Yep, de facto moratorium. [New York Times]

sadomasochism s&m s and m sadist masochist dungeon Above the Law blog.jpgSince we started off today on a somewhat sordid note, we might as well keep going down the same path. From the AP:

Adrian Exley was wrapped tightly in heavy plastic, then bound with duct tape. A leather hood was put over his head with a thin plastic straw inserted so that he could breathe, and he was shut up in a closet.

That, apparently, was the way Exley liked it. But the way it ended — with Exley suffocating — was not what he had in mind when he traveled from Britain for a bondage session with a man he had met through a sadomasochism Web site.

Exley’s body was discovered in the woods last year, two months after he was bound up in the bondage “playroom” Gary LeBlanc had built in the basement of his suburban Boston home.

LeBlanc, a 48-year-old Gulf Oil sales executive, detailed his responsibility in the fatal bondage session in a five-page suicide note, just before he put a gun to his head and killed himself.

Now the question is: Since Exley consented to the sex play, can LeBlanc be held responsible for his death?

LeBlanc committed suicide, but the issue still matters:

Exley’s family is suing LeBlanc’s estate for unspecified damages, claiming wrongful death. Many bondage enthusiasts are watching the case closely, seeing it as a lesson in where to draw the line of responsibility on consensual but dangerous sex.

Additional sensational and salacious details appear in the full article.
Moral of the story: If you’re into this sort of thing, before doing anything, make sure your partner signs a waiver, assumption of risk, and release of liability form. Then transmit an executed copy to a third party prior to the liaison, so there’s contemporaneous documentation. Good luck.
Deadly consent: Bondage death raises legal issues [AP via CNN]
S&M for Beginners [Tango]

Al Gore Albert Gore Above the Law blog.jpg* Al Gore, law school dropout, wins Nobel Peace Prize. [WSJ Law Blog; Washington Post; New York Times]
* Houston crime lab drops the ball, again. [CNN]
* Iraqi families sue Blackwater in U.S. court. [CNN]
* Lithwick’s take on the interesting SCOTUS case, Medellin v. Texas. [Slate]
* McCartney-Mills divorce settlement could break records. [MSNBC]
* After typo, infants in Arkansas can’t not be allowed to marry. [CNN]

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