By: Lisanne L. Mikula, Esquire
Nobody warned me in law school that lawyers simply can’t read books or watch TV or movies the same way that normal folks do. Forget courtroom dramas—I’m too busy tracking the violations of the rules of evidence to pay attention to the plot. Cinematic car chases never provide me with the satisfaction of showing the next logical scene—a legal team crafting the civil damages complaint on behalf of the vendors whose fruit carts got mowed down. Period romances are no better–Mr. Darcy was a fool not to insist on a pre-nup!
Here’s how a few treasured holiday staples fare through the eyes of a lawyer:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – It’s a good thing Whoville is a forgiving place. The Grinch could have faced a long time in the slammer—breaking and entering, theft, animal cruelty (poor Max!), and impersonating a foreign dignitary. That’s not to say the Whoville courts won’t be busy, however. Those Flu Floopers, Tar Tinkers, and Who Hoovers look like products liability cases in the making. Be careful, Cindy Lou Who!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – The Griswolds—charmingly eccentric neighbors or zoning code scofflaws? What wildlife protection laws were breached when the Clarks harbored a squirrel in their Christmas tree? If imaginary Christie Brinkley dives into the imaginary swimming pool and injures herself, will the Griswolds’ homeowners insurance cover the claim? Can Clark’s boss deduct from Clark’s bonus the damages he incurred as a result of Cousin Eddie’s home invasion and kidnapping? This isn’t a holiday comedy tradition—it’s a law school exam.
A Christmas Story – Ralphie, listen to your parents, your teacher, and Santa—you’ll shoot your eye out! Or, in lawyer parlance: Don’t assume the risk—it could impact your personal injury claims. Besides, you don’t need that Red Ryder BB gun to fight off the bullies—just brush up on the school district’s anti-bullying policies and complaint procedure. And please tell your dad to take that lamp out of the window—the neighbors are feeling sexually harassed.
The Year Without a Santa Claus – Okay, Santa. I’m on to you. You’re not laid up with a cold and afraid that no one believes in you; you are avoiding the NLRB. The elves have filled out their union authorization cards, and it’s about time. See also, Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer (Hermey, when you free yourself from the North Pole sweatshop and earn your dental degree, call me. I’ll help set up your LLC); see also, Elf (Buddy, Santa failed to reasonably accommodate your height disability. I’m available for a consultation.)
A Charlie Brown Christmas – Poor Charlie Brown. In one brief half-hour, this parentally-abandoned minor is misdiagnosed by an unlicensed “psychiatrist,” terrorized by an off-leash beagle with no rabies tag, wrongfully terminated from his position as director of the Christmas pageant, and, ultimately, made a victim of consumer fraud when he is sold a tree which is unfit for its intended purpose as an ornament-bearing symbol of holiday joy. I’ve never seen anyone who needs a lawyer on retainer more than this eight year old.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP!