Monthly Archives: October 2010

Just in time for Halloween – No Child Poisoned by Halloween Candy. Ever.

Remember when Halloween was an adult-free zone?  The neighborhood teemed with costumed children, racing against the clock to collect free treats from their kindly neighbors.  I do.  That was my childhood, not necessarily that of my own children.  In the last several decades, parents have been subjected to a steady drumbeat of warnings about all kinds of awful things (poisoning, molestation, kidnapping, murder) that could happen on All Hallows Eve.  And we believed the warnings, even if that meant that our lovely neighbors were just monsters in disguise.  A recent Wall Street Journal column highlights studies, by Dr. Joel Best of the University of Maryland and by Dr. Elizabeth  Letourneau of the Medical University of South Carolina, that attempt to drive a wooden stake into the heart of this vampire.

Dr. Best’s work is cited by here: and Dr. Letourneau’s study is here:


Creepy, Crawly Cause of Action. Or Not.

A customer who was injured by a spider while trying on pants was unable to prevail on a claim against the retailer and supplier of the pants of breach of implied warranty of merchantability [Flippo v. Mode O’Day Frock Shops of Hollywood, 449 S.W.2d 692 (Ark. 1970)]. The Supreme Court of Arkansas found that, as the spider was not part of the garment and that the pants themselves were not the source of the injury, the customer was not entitled to jury instructions on strict tort liability. Find the case in print by using the reporter citation; find it online by using the citation or party names.

Halloween Insurance

It is getting strange out there. The Insurance Journal notes that, “To ward off greedy lawyer vampires, the Center for Consumer Freedom offers a Halloween ‘Trick-Or-Treat Liability and Indemnification Agreement’.” The agreement can be downloaded at,

041027_halloween.pdf.  It includes a number of clauses designed to protect Americans from legal liability. By signing it, “Trick-or-Treaters agree not to sue on the basis of:

* Failure to warn of potential for overeating because candy tastes too
good and is provided at no cost;
* Failure to provide nutritional information or adequate educational
information on exercise options;
* Failure to state that candy corn is not really corn;
* Failure to warn the lactose intolerant away from milk duds;
* Failure to offer “healthier options,” “organic choices,” or “lame treats no kid wants”; and
* Failure to provide information about other venues offering alternative,”healthier” Halloween goodies.

Remember this policy on  Halloween. Happy Halloween!  (Post-David)

Things That Go “Bump!” in the Court

The Undead get a bad rap in the US judicial system. For example, not only is there a Vampire Nation (which appears to contain no actual vampires), but it’s been taken to court for a variety of white-collar crimes (U.S. v. Vampire Nation, 451 F.3d 189 (3rd Circ. 2006)). A Michigan carjacker explained his car theft spree as an attempt to “escape from flesh-eating bats and vampires” (People v. Morgan, No. 284986, 2009 WL 1397132, (Mich.App., May 19, 2009)). Numerous defendants have attempted to justify their misdeeds by claiming to have been fending off vampires. Find out the details by going to your favorite search engine and using a search query such as vampire! w/s crime


It’s Open Access Week

To learn about the events of Open Access Week and the global Open Access movement, visit the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) website.

Did you know there is an Open Access Law Program (OAL Program), which is part of the Science Commons publishing project?  To read about the OAL Program and its principles, and to view a list of Open Access law journals, visit the Science Commons’ Open Access Law Program webpage.

There is also a Directory of Open Access Journals covering all areas of scholarship.  (Post-TC)

Copyright Renewal Database

Copyright law is a tangled web of rules. One of the most complicated is the determination of whether a works is in the public domain or still in copyright. The general rule of copyright of the author plus seventy years does not apply in certain circumstances to materials published before 1964. For more information on the issue,  see U.S. official  copyright website. []   

Stanford University,  in an attempt to help alleviate some of this confusion, established the Copyright Renewal Database. []  You can check renewal for materials received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1992 for books published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1963. This database  is a great help for the materials not automatically renewed by statute from 1964 onward.  While the database has been available since 2006,  many people are unaware if its existence. Anyone interested in checking copyright status will appreciate this database. (Post-David)

Documents of the Founding Fathers to go online

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grantmaking arm of the National Archives, has announced a cooperative agreement with The University of Virginia (UVA) Press to make freely available online the historical documents of the Founders of the United States of America.

The NHPRC and UVA Press will create a new website which provides access to the fully annotated published papers of key figures in the nation’s Founding era. The project is designed to include the papers of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin.

Through this web resource, users will be able to read, browse, and search tens of thousands of documents from the Founding Era.  A prototype website including the contents of 154 volumes drawn from print editions of the papers of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison will be prepared by October 2011.   The fully public version will be launched by June 2012 and will also include the 27 volumes of the Papers of Alexander Hamilton.   By June 2013, the Founders Online expects to add the 39 published volumes of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin.  The new resource will include the complete contents of 242 printed volumes, including all of the existing document transcriptions and the editors’ explanatory notes.


British and Irish Legal Information Institute

For those of you familiar with Cornell’s Legal Information Institute here is the English version. British and Irish Legal Information Institute ( BAILII, has the latest British and Irish case law & legislation, European Union case law, Law Commission reports, and other law-related British and Irish material. It also contains recent decisions lists and new cases of interest to keep you current. You can search the databases of cases by alphabetical case name or subject. It has a very extensive set of databases including;

United Kingdom

England and Wales


Northern Ireland



If you are looking for European cases for research check out this free database. (Post-David)

Define Hornswoggle

In 1926, a Texas appellate court referred to the definition of the word “hornswoggle” in the Webster’s unabridged dictionary and held that, absent appearances to the contrary, a jury could be assumed to attach the proper meaning to the word [U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co. v. Rochester, 281 S.W. 306 (Tex. Civ. App. 1926)]. This case is the only one indexed in Words and Phrases that explores the meaning of “hornswoggle” – and I checked the pocket part, too. Words and Phrases indexes cases that involve a court’s interpretation of, well, words and phrases. You can find it on the first floor of the library on Range 132. Other conversational words that have turned up in a judicial context include flim-flam, hoodwink, puffery, and baloney.

New Document Search Engine

Looking for a specific document or type of document on the on the Internet? Do you want it in a foreign language? There is a new website that will search specifically for these types of materials. Edocza ( is a search engine for documents.  You can specify the document type. Your choices are: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Flash, PDF, and Rich Text Format. You can also specify the language  of the document.  The website has you  enter the type  of document,  specify the  language, and  away you go. The language component is pretty extensive. This search engine is really very good. It is another tool to add to the collection. (Post-David)