« Behave, my rebellious brain | Main | Places to Study »

Distraction and Deviance

Ah, Lexis. Source of many hours of legal procrastination. On the menu tonight? Suing the Devil: A Guide for Practitioners, by Charles Lablon, 86 Va. L. Rev. 103. (I'm trying to find a copy you can get to without Lexis, but for those of you in law or law school, it's there.) A taste?

"THESE are precarious times for plaintiffs' lawyers. With most of the asbestos manufacturers safely bankrupt, the tobacco companies looking for a settlement, and even the most gullible investors unable to lose money on Wall Street, there is a serious risk of a defendant shortage. To be sure, people continue to be cheated, harassed, and abused by corporate America in reassuring numbers, but recovering the costs of standard corporate malfeasance is just a job, not an adventure. It provides none of the opportunities for financial windfalls, moral indignation, and national television exposure that come from suing a really despicable defendant. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, that one notorious perpetrator of injury, misery, and wrongful conduct has remained curiously immune from the current onslaught of civil litigation. I am speaking, of course, about the Devil incarnate, Satan, Prince of Darkness.

I know that the concept of a lawsuit, preferably a class action, against the Devil strikes many lawyers as bizarre, perhaps even absurd. I completely understand such concerns. Obviously Satan is a formidable legal opponent. He is well financed, highly intelligent, very aggressive, and completely unscrupulous. I believe he has had formal legal training. Yet the point of this Essay is to show that in a world in which Philip Morris, Microsoft, and Rupert Murdoch are all targets of litigation, the Devil isn't really so tough. Moreover, while Satanic litigation does pose some unique jurisdictional and procedural difficulties, none of them, as I will subsequently demonstrate, poses an insurmountable obstacle to a successful lawsuit."

"Since that time, there have been virtually no reported instances of Satanic litigation. This may strike some of you as odd, since the Devil is obviously still heavily involved in commercial activity, and we all know how indispensable the threat of a lawsuit is to maintaining amicable business relations. If he has stopped resorting to the courts, how does Satan keep his business associates in line? After much consideration and research, I believe I have discovered the answer. I can state it in three words: alternative dispute resolution. It appears that the standard-form demonic contract, like the standard securities brokerage contract, now contains an arbitration clause. This explains not only why the Devil no longer resorts to litigation, but also why so many people and institutions these days seem summarily to be going to Hell.

Incidentally, the article cites the following case, great if you're reviewing Civil Procedure: United States ex rel. Mayo v. Satan & His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D. Penn 1971), in which plaintiff "alleges that Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff's downfall." The case is dismissed because: (a) the plaintiff can't gain personal jurisdiction over the defendant in this judicial district [1]; (b) "plaintiff has failed to include with his complaint the required form of instructions for the United States Marshal for directions as to service of process"; and (c) failure to reveal a cause of action over which relief can be provided by the court [2]. The court also questions if the case is maintainable as a class action, since while it met the requirements for Rule 23 [3], the court did not want to guess whether the claimant would fairly protect the interest of the class.

[1] I think the federal judge thinks well of his district here. Personal jurisdiction can be maintained under a theory of general jurisdiction if the defendant has 'substantial and continuous' contacts with the forum state. I guess His Honor thinks that limits general jurisdiction for the Prince of Darkness to California, New York, and other such dens of iniquity?

[2] Obviously, the defendant didn't file a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, but I can't find the rule that allows a court to dismiss a claim without a motion from the defendant. Anyone help me out here?

[3] The class is too numerous that joinder of all parties is impractical (and I would have thought this countered the personal jurisdiction problem); there are questions of law and fact common to the class; and claims of the representative party are common to claims of the class.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Distraction and Deviance:

» Federal Judge Sways to Rhythm of Talking Heads from Notes from the (Legal) Underground
I was planning to post a note today about a bizarre judicial decision called Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, but it seems Three Years and others got there first. Luckily, I have another bizarre legal case to post about: [Read More]

» Federal Judge Sways to Rhythm of Talking Heads from Notes from the (Legal) Underground
I was planning to post a note today about a bizarre judicial decision called Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, but it seems Three Years and others got there first. Luckily, I have another bizarre legal case to post about: [Read More]

» Federal Judge Sways to Rhythm of Talking Heads from Notes from the (Legal) Underground
I was planning to post a note today about a bizarre judicial decision called Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, but it seems Three Years and others got there first. Luckily, I have another bizarre legal case to post about: [Read More]


Hey, I'll have to get around to linking to your comment about adr=everything going to hell, it was funny and fits in with my url, http://adrr.com/ BTW, a federal court can grant judgment based on the answer filed, or even without an answer. I got one that way, and it surved all the way up through application for writ of cert (there was even a real attorney on the other side). It is pendant to summary judgment power and the rules involving same. When you have the time, look at rules and procedures involving pro se criminals filing federal suits, many of which involve only the Plaintiff and the Court.
Suing Satan, what a hilarious idea! I've linked to this post in my own blog (also focusing on a 1L's adventures in law school). I have a feeling that a suit against The Devil would be the perfect diversion for my Procedure professor, Owen Fiss. He's old and well-established already, so he has lots of time on his hands. And he's an old-school Warren Court-era liberal, so he would like nothing better than to extend the reach of the judiciary to areas formerly beyond its jurisdiction--such as the eternal battle between good and evil.
Nice site. Keep up the good work.

Post a comment

NOTICE TO SPAMMERS, COMMENT ROBOTS, TRACKBACK SPAMMERS AND OTHER NON-HUMAN VISITORS: No comment or trackback left via a robot is ever welcome at Three Years of Hell. Your interference imposes significant costs upon me and my legitimate users. The owner, user or affiliate who advertises using non-human visitors and leaves a comment or trackback on this site therefore agrees to the following: (a) they will pay fifty cents (US$0.50) to Anthony Rickey (hereinafter, the "Host") for every spam trackback or comment processed through any blogs hosted on threeyearsofhell.com, morgrave.com or housevirgo.com, irrespective of whether that comment or trackback is actually posted on the publicly-accessible site, such fees to cover Host's costs of hosting and bandwidth, time in tending to your comment or trackback and costs of enforcement; (b) if such comment or trackback is published on the publicly-accessible site, an additional fee of one dollar (US$1.00) per day per URL included in the comment or trackback for every day the comment or trackback remains publicly available, such fee to represent the value of publicity and search-engine placement advantages.

Giving The Devil His Due

Choose Stylesheet

What I'm Reading

D.C. Noir

My city. But darker.
A Clockwork Orange

About time I read this...


Projects I've Been Involved With

A Round-the-World Travel Blog: Devil May Care (A new round-the-world travel blog, co-written with my wife)
Parents for Inclusive Education (From my Clinic)

Syndicated from other sites

The Columbia Continuum
Other Blogs by CLS students

De Novo
Theory and Practice
Liberal Federalism?
Good News, No Foolin'

Nancy Pelosi covers her head and visits the head of John the Baptist.
Vlogging in from Austin.
Omikase/"American Idol"

Jeremy Blachman's Weblog: 2007
Happy Passover
Looking for Advice re: LA
Google Books

Stay of Execution
What I've Learned From This Blog, or My Yellow Underpants
The End
Mid Thirties

Legal Theory Blog
Program Announcement: Summer Programs on the Constitution at George Washington
Book Announement: Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy by Whittington
Entry Level Hiring Report

The Volokh Conspiracy
Making the Daily Show:
Civil unions pass New Hampshire House:
Profile of Yale Law Dean Harold Koh:

Crescat Sententia
Hillary II
Politics and Principal/Agents

Law Dork
Election Approaches
Following Lewis
New Jersey High Court: 'Same Rights and Benefits'

Surveying the revival
Birds of paradise

Half the Sins of Mankind
Cheney Has Spoken Religious conservatives who may ...
Does Ahmadinejad Know Christianity Better Than MSN...
Borders as Genocide In discussions of climate chan...

For lovers of garden gnomes...and any China-freaks out there
We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Does SOX explain the flight from NY?
More Litvak on SOX effect on cross-listed firms
What did the market learn from internal controls reporting?

The Yin Blog
Iowa City = Riyadh
Jeffrey Rosen's "The Supreme Court"
Geek alert -- who would win between Battlestar Galactica and the U.S.S. Enterprise?

Letters of Marque
And there we are

Signing Off

Dark Bilious Vapors
Jim (The Waco Kid): Where you headed, cowboy?
Bart: Nowhere special.
Jim: Nowhere special. I always wanted to go there.
Bart: Come on.
--"Blazing Saddles"

Technical Difficulties... please stand by....
The Onion should have gotten a patent first....

Legal Ethics Forum
Interesting new Expert DQ case
Decency, Due Care, and The Yoo-Delahunty Memorandum
Thinking About the Fired U.S. Attorneys

Ex Post
Student Symposium- Chicago!
More Hmong - Now at Law School
Good Samaritan Laws: Good For America?

Appellate Law & Practice
Those turned over documents
CA1: courts can’t help people acquitted of crimes purge the taint of acquitted conduct
CA1: restrictions on chain liquor stores in Rhode Island are STILL okay

the imbroglio
High schoolers turn in plagiarism screeners for copyright infringement
Paris to offer 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations to rent by the end of the year

The Republic of T.
The Secret of the Snack Attack
links for 2007-04-04
Where You Link is What You Get

Distractions for stressed law students

The Other Side: Twisted AnimationsSomething Positive, a truly good webcomic

Syndicate This Site



Stop Spam Harvesters, Join Project Honey Pot