Continuingnuisance.com

I probably should have mentioned this a long, long time ago, but since September 2014 I have maintained another blog, continuingnuisance.com. Its title makes the site sound like a fun continuation of this blog. Don’t be fooled. Instead, most of the posts on continuingnuisance.com relate legal esoterica and vacation pix. But I thought I’d disclose it, just in case you want to check out cartoons from 1888 about the hazards of elevator travel, and stuff like that.

Next Steps

Dear Charlie:

You are a sap and you know it. You have got to make up your mind some time whether you want to lead the life of action or the life of scholarship. You might as well do it now . . . . 

- Robert M. Hutchins to Charles E. Clark (dean of Yale Law School), August 28, 1935

I began one of my first law review articles with Hutchins’ advice. At the time, I thought his admonition neatly encapsulated the liminal position of law professors as public intellectuals. Clark would make his choice just a few years after receiving Hutchins’ letter, leaving Yale Law’s deanship for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. But for jurists, the divide between the life of action and the life of scholarship isn’t necessarily as stark as Hutchins implied. Clark, for example, would continue to teach as an adjunct at Yale long after joining the bench.

In a related development, I have decided to return to practice after six years of teaching law at Santa Clara. I wouldn’t make a public announcement about my transition, but for my prior disclosure that I wasn’t going to seek tenure. I don’t want a false impression to arise that Santa Clara responded with a swift axe chop. Quite the contrary; the school was fine with the decision. But after a great deal of additional thought, I decided that I (hopefully) can make greater contributions to the common good by returning to practice.

This post also provides an opportunity for me to thank some of the many, many people whose wisdom and generosity I have mined and benefited from over the years. Among more senior scholars, Ron Wright, Orin Kerr, Chuck Weisselberg, Stephanos Bibas, Jenia Turner, David Sklansky, Douglas Berman, Peter Schuck, Ian Ayres, Gerard Magliocca, Bob Gordon, Robert Rabin, Eric Biber, Chris Robinette, Geoff Rapp, Melissa Murray, and Brian Tamanaha all provided great help to me. Their kindness is magnified by the fact that, realistically, I could do nothing for them. I also have enjoyed friendships with tremendous younger scholars such as Will Baude, Josh Blackman, Karen Tani, Derek Muller, Andrea Roth, Avani Sood, Bryant Walker Smith, and Woodrow Hartzog, all of whose writings I now anticipate as eagerly as I did the latest issues of comic books back when I was nine.  I apologize for embarrassing these people by naming them. On the other hand, I’ve always considered our profession as deficient for normally waiting until a festschrift to acknowledge a professor’s contributions to their field, and their peers.

I could and do thank everyone at Santa Clara. The care and dedication that Professor Eric Wright devotes to his craft provided wonderful inspiration to a young professor. So too did the conviction that Stephanie Wildman and Margalynne Armstrong bring to their social justice work. Dorothy Glancy, Bob Peterson, and I struck up a friendship while pontificating about driverless vehicles. Jerry Uelmen has been a generous mentor and courageous role model. Eric Goldman, Allen Hammond, and Ellen Kreitzberg always made themselves available to talk about teaching, the law school, or nothing in particular. The brilliance within articles by David Ball, Colleen Chien, Brian Love, and Pratheepan Gulasekaram sometimes made me terribly jealous, tempered by an appreciation that they’d done a better job with their subjects than I ever could.  Phil Jimenez struck me as defining the life well-lived. Deans Donald Polden and Lisa Kloppenberg, and Associate Dean Brad Joondeph, have provided thoughtful, positive leadership for the school. The indefatigable Susan Erwin is to Santa Clara what Phil Hartman was to “Saturday Night Live” from 1986 to 1994.  (It wouldn’t be like me to forego a dated, but otherwise apt cultural reference.) I could go on, and on.

Finally, and probably most importantly, I must thank Santa Clara’s students. Though this fact may complicate Hutchins’ dichotomy,  I defined myself more by my utility as a teacher and mentor than by  whatever meager value my scholarship might have. I don’t know how successful I was. My inability to produce better employment outcomes for some–too many–of my students represents my greatest failure and regret as a professor. From a selfish perspective, however, it has been a tremendous gift to engage with so many enthusiastic students over the years.  I consider myself unusually lucky to have been given this opportunity. So, to my former students, thank you.

One last thought, before I end this post. My favorite memory from my time as a law professor doesn’t concern anything I’ve written, or classes or presentations that I gave. Instead, in this memory I’m sitting at the hospital bedside of an ill colleague. It’s 8:00 p.m. Classes are over for the day, and I’m stopping by the hospital on my way home. I have brought my laptop computer with me. Through Skype,  and the help of other faculty and staff, we are watching an awards ceremony at Santa Clara. The professor, a sponsor of this award, is far too sick to attend. The award recipient is a human-rights advocate from China. He begins his speech by thanking my companion for the honor. The professor — my friend — smiles, reaches out for my hand, and clenches it in his.

It’s the last of my many memories of this colleague, who passed away a few months later. Though I am excited for a new chapter of my career, I also am grateful to have had moments such as this, reminders that law schools are about people as much as ideas.

I’m no longer actively posting on this site, and in fact have started to take down some of my older posts that I no longer need to reference. If you’ve been led here from some other website and can’t find the page you’re looking for, all or almost all of this site’s prior posts have been stored over at the Wayback Machine at archive.org.

 

Annals of Poor Math (1871)

From Harper’s Bazaar, June 24, 1871:

About fifteen years ago a curious contract was made between a Miss Evans and a Mr. Cooper, which has resulted in a novel lawsuit in Chenango County. It seems from the newspaper accounts that Mr. Cooper agreed to give Miss Evans one ewe lamb and its increase until she was twenty-one years of age, in consideration of a gold watch-key. The suit was brought to recover the sheep or its equivalent. The evidence showed that the increase was to be in ewe lambs, and that the natural increase of a flock of sheep would double every year. According to this estimate, Miss Susie would have at the end of fifteen years 16,064 ewe lambs, which, at $4 per head, would amount to $64,256. The justice heard the evidence, and, like a wise man, reserved his judgment. What the final result of the suit is has not yet been reported.

***

I think the Harper’s article contains a typo; by my math, Miss Susie was entitled to 16,384 lambs, not 16,064.

Crash-Test Bears? (1962)

I came across this blurb in an old plaintiffs’ counsel newsletter (specifically, the NACCA News Letter, January 1962) while performing some unrelated research:

The FAA has announced that its Civil Aeromedical Research Institute will make more tests on the causes of injury & death of passengers in plane crashes. Using animals, & especially bears because of their similarity in frame in humans, strapped into seats, the Institute plans to simulate crashes up to 100 m.p.h. Dr. Sidney Mohler, director of the program, said that various structures inside the cabin would be studied, since structures such as hatracks, magazine racks, & ceiling lights had taken lives in the past.

Similarity in frame? Compared to a mouse, sure, but really?

The Car that Drives Itself (1958)

In scanning the web for old stories about autonomous vehicles the other day, I came across this 1958 article from the magazine Popular Science, “The Car that Drives Itself.” The article, by Martin Mann, begins with the lede, “I drove a car with no hands.”

The text details efforts by General Motors to come up with a system for controlling cars through a track-and-beam system, somewhat akin to the scheme Norman Bel Geddes proposed in GM’s Futurama exhibit in 1939. The article is pretty interesting, as it touches upon subjects such as moral hazard and the optimal amount of autonomy to integrate into the vehicle.

By the way, there is an ongoing exhibition on Bel Geddes at the Museum of the City of New York, through February 10, 2014. Bel Geddes had an amazing career as an industrial designer; for anyone with an interest in the subject who plans on being in New York between now and then, it might be worth a visit.

Autonomous Vehicles and the Vaccine Analogy

I have some friends in the legal academy who are really enthusiastic about autonomous (self-driving) vehicles. They foresee a future in which these devices carry us to and fro more safely and efficiently than current, human-directed vehicles do.

But many of these same people worry that this future will never come to pass. One concern is that the threat of tort liability down the proverbial road will dissuade possible innovators from making the necessary investments in these devices. And so, some of these advocates have recommended that Congress preempt tort claims against autonomous-driving technologies to encourage their development and diffusion.

In making this argument, boosters sometimes point to the example set by the partial preemption of personal-injury claims associated with the administration of childhood vaccines. As some of you know, in 1986 Congress passed a law that shifted these claims from “traditional” courts and juries to a special forum, which can award damages (funded by an excise tax on the vaccines) upon proof that a claimant’s injury was associated with a covered vaccine. Significantly, this scheme caps pain and suffering damages at $250,000, a ceiling that offers cost certainty to vaccine manufacturers. This statute is today widely regarded as having rescued the childhood vaccine industry from possible ruin, and some people who want to encourage the development of autonomous cars argue that a similar, liability-limiting system (or a more robust preemption scheme) should apply to these vehicles.

Personally, I am more or less agnostic on preemption as it applies to autonomous vehicles. But I am not certain that the vaccine analogy is an especially compelling one. Let me explain why.

Let me start with the circumstances that I regard as creating a paradigm case for preemption premised on a bare threat of ruinous liability (as opposed to, say, preemption designed to ensure the supremacy of federal law, or to avoid interjurisdictional conflicts). Such an argument seems to make the most sense as applied to a device or technology that’s reasonably established as being (1) irreducibly unsafe in some respect; but (2) health- or safety-enhancing, relative to all practical substitutes; and (3) as to which the costs associated with tort judgments are so great as to render continued development or production impractical or undesirable.

The first of these points suggests that tort liability will not encourage further refinements in design, warning, or manufacturing, because it can’t. The second underscores that the product is a socially desirable one, worthy of protection notwithstanding its flaws. The third substantiates an intuition that the product is going to disappear unless the normal mechanics of tort law are somehow constrained.

The history of childhood vaccines, and the status of the vaccination market in the early 1980s, supplies a much better argument for preemption of vaccine lawsuits—along all three dimensions discussed above—than presently exists for preemption of lawsuits involving autonomous cars. In the interest of time, I am going to focus here on the third of these characteristics — the threat to the industry posed by the “normal” application of tort law.

Between 1980 and 1985, 299 lawsuits were filed against the producers of childhood vaccines for injuries allegedly associated with the administration of these vaccines. These lawsuits targeted an industry that was neither especially large nor especially profitable. According to one government report, total sales of childhood vaccines amounted to just $385.8 million for the four-year period between 1981 and 1984, a figured dwarfed by the $3.5 billion in damages demands made in the aforementioned lawsuits. One contemporary media report quoted an employee of a vaccine manufacturer as saying that the dollars demanded in lawsuits pending against the company relating to alleged injury from the pertussis vaccine were 200 times the total sales of the vaccine it produced in 1983. Furthermore, while the precise profitability of the vaccine market at the time is unclear, several of the largest customers had significant buying power, a fact that normally keeps margins relatively low.

A spike in outlays occasioned by product liability suits–through direct damages payments or insurance costs (if insurance were available at all)–thus threatened to drive what was at most a modestly profitable business into the red. The difference between the modest revenues and possibly immense liability exposure also made it difficult for manufacturers to price their vaccines so that they could pass costs on to consumers (especially without being accused of price gouging, a charge that might have negative implications for their other products). Nevertheless, vaccine prices did spike in the early 1980s (rising between 50 and 900 percent during this span, depending upon the vaccine and market), and liability costs received much of the blame.

Predictably, given these circumstances, childhood vaccine manufacturers fled from the business. Per one Congressional report that accompanied the preemption law:

Between 1966 and 1977, half of the commercial corporations producing vaccines in the U.S. ceased production and distribution of these products. Since 1977 this contraction has continued. In 1985, there were only four commercial firms producing and distributing the primary vaccines used in childhood immunization programs. It has been suggested that there are certain characteristics of the vaccine market that make vaccine production and distribution relatively unattractive from a commercial perspective, which in turn has acted to discourage producers from entering or staying in the business of producing vaccines.

The four remaining domestic, private participants could very credibly threaten to leave the business themselves. Most of these entities had many other product lines to keep their corporate coffers full, if they chose to leave vaccine manufacture behind:

  • Other products marketed by Wyeth Laboratories’ parent (American Home Products Corporation) included Anacin, Dristan, Preparation H, Crunch ‘n’ Munch, Woolite, Pam Cooking Spray, and Easy-Off oven cleaner.
  • Lederle Laboratories’ parent (American Cyanamid Company) sold products including Lady’s Choice antiperspirant, Old Spice deodorant, Breck shampoo, Formica brand laminates, and Pine-Sol liquid cleaner.
  • A third vaccine producer, Merck, claimed a robust portfolio of profitable prescription drugs.

The other drugs and consumer goods sold by these companies were big business, compared to vaccines: according to their respective annual reports, American Home Products, American Cyanamid, and Merck boasted 1983 revenues of $4,857 million, $3,536 million, and $3,246 million, respectively.

Meanwhile, no guarantee existed that new entrants would replace these dropouts. Development of a new vaccine was then, as it is now, a costly affair. Other companies conceivably might purchase an existing vaccine business from an existing participant—but why would they, given the market dynamics discussed above?

* * *

In sum, the threat to the vaccine market in the mid-1980s was real, not just theoretical. Manufacturers’ threat of exit was bolstered by the facts that other companies had abandoned the business, childhood vaccines were a small, relatively flat, and not especially lucrative business, and these companies had other product irons in the fire. Meanwhile, substantial barriers blocked new entrants.

For the autonomous vehicles / vaccines analogy to prove persuasive, I’m going to need to see similar evidence that tort liability poses a real, as opposed to an existential threat to the development of autonomous cars. (I’ll also need to hear more about how autonomous vehicles will in fact be safer than human-operated vehicles, but that’s another story.)

Annals of Closing Statements in Exploding Bottle Cases

In connection with an ongoing research project, I have been reading all about exploding soda and beer bottles. While doing so, I came across this paraphrase [in an old NACCA annual convention transcript] of a nice closing statement by plaintiffs’ attorney Sam Rosenthal, wrapping up a mid-century bottle case. As background, the plaintiff was a cafe owner; the defendant, a beer bottler. Also keep in mind that the bottles of the era tended to be reused many times by the bottler:

I wish this little bottle could talk. [Holding up the bottle] I wish this little bottle could talk. Do you know what it would have said? It would have said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: When I was born I had some defect. They didn’t give me a strong body. I slipped by the manufacturer with several others because I looked so well. You couldn’t tell by looking at me what my body was like, but I had some defect there. I had some pain along the side. One side was not quite as strong as the other. You couldn’t tell by just looking at me.

I have seen some of my brothers placed in the machine. I don’t know what you call it. They were looking at some of my brothers and sisters from the same batch but they passed me. I also heard and saw them rapping my brothers and sisters. They rapped me, too, a little. It didn’t seem to indicate I had a weak body. I got by that, too. They let me go to the brewery. They filled me up with beer. I was sent back. I had pain constantly. I wasn’t very happy. 

Then came a day I deeply regret because several times, maybe fifty or a hundred times, maybe more, I went through. Then I went to the establishment of Mr. Gordon, a very nice fellow. He didn’t mishandle me at all. He did nothing at all to me. He just took me out, but by that time I couldn’t stand it any longer. I gave way. I made a lot of noise and went to pieces and a part of me entered Mr. Gordon’s eye and blinded him. It wasn’t my fault and it certainly wasn’t his fault. They just didn’t take good care of me. I wish they could take me back and give me a new life and give him a new eye, but they can’t.

I just wish this bottle could talk, ladies and gentlemen of the jury.

For you torts geeks out there, Gordon resulted in a plaintiff’s judgment (of course it did, after that closing argument), after which the case ratcheted up the appellate ladder to the California Supreme Court. That court affirmed, with Justice Traynor writing a concurring opinion that echoed most of the arguments he had made a few years earlier in his Escola concurring opinion.

 

Tort Cases in the 1995-1998 State Supreme Court Database

Professor Paul Brace at Rice University has compiled a very interesting database of cases decided by state supreme courts between 1995 and 1998. The database contains more than 23,000 cases,and has been very carefully and rigorously coded. A web page with more information about the database can be accessed here. One especially nice attribute: the database has been formatted in a way that you can import it into Microsoft Excel. (Open Excel first, then open the database, identifying it as a tab-delimited file.)

I don’t know that I’ll use the database for any of my work, but it definitely seems to have its uses. For kicks and grins, I did a quick “sort” to flag all of the cases identified as sounding in tort (inclusive of worker’s compensation) over the studied time period. This search yielded 4,948 cases, or about 17.5 percent of all cases in the database.  Of these cases:

  • 514 were flagged as “medical malpractice”
  • 395 were flagged as “professional malpractice”
  • 711 were flagged as “automobiles”
  • 399 were flagged as “product liability”
  • 86 were flagged as “toxic substance”
  • 488 were flagged as “premises liability”
  • 173 were flagged as “libel / slander / defamation”
  • 1,130 were flagged as ”employee injury and workers’ compensation”
  • 189 were flagged as “employment discrimination”
  • 108 were flagged as “other labor disputes”
  • 1,339 were flagged as “other torts.”

That the bulleted figures total more than 4,948 owes to the fact that specific cases could be flagged as raising multiple issues.

This was a back-of-the-envelope search, and I didn’t do a deep dive to figure out what cases were poured into each bucket. And, of course, I could be reading the database wrong; that’s always a possibility. At a glance, I’d observe that the percentage of the courts’ caseload that contained a tort issue or two during the 1995-1998 span is down a little, but not that far off from what Professors Kagan and Friedman found to be the case in their 1977 study of the same courts’ dockets during the 1945-1970 period. I am a little surprised that there were so many defamation cases, although I suppose these claims do tend to get thrown into lots of invasion of privacy lawsuits, almost as an afterthought.

The First Airplane-Accident “Lawsuit”

From Enter the Aeroplaintiff, an article in the “Cartoons and Comments” section of Puck (a turn-of-the-century humor magazine), October 12, 1910:

There are good times coming for the legal profession. The young lawyer, waiting in the proverbial manner for his first client, will have but a little longer to wait. Already the hum of industry in the law-school mills grows louder, and all because of an unheralded event in aviating, an event that marks an epoch in the annals of litigation. For the first time in the history of aviation, says a momentous dispatch, a lawsuit has been brought because of a collision between two biplanes, a passenger in one of them having had the misfortune, or the tremendous distinction, to break his leg, and “the case is now in court.” Future historians will reverence the day; future statisticians will record the hour; for there will be other damage suits undoubtedly. . . . 

We confidently assume that in the event of collisions, disputes over the right of way and the like, air-men will be permitted to descend to earth before they are handed a professional card or asked to part with a fat retaining fee. The aëroplane successor to the “ambulance chaser,” hovering about the atmosphere in his search for possible clients, would be intolerable. Let the Bar anticipate these impending evils. . . . 

I am trying to track down the “lawsuit” referenced in this article. From what I’ve learned so far, I think the collision occurred in Europe, and the purported “lawsuit” actually involved an appearance before a public prosecutor.

In any event, the author’s prediction proved false, at least for a time. In the United States, up through and including the 1920s there were very few tort cases associated with airplane travel, for reasons I’ve explained elsewhere.

 

And You Thought YOUR Case Was Moving Slowly

From The American Law Review, November / December 1899:

The Munich Supreme Tribunal has finally disposed of a lawsuit which had been in progress for some 300 years between the family of Baron von Thungen and the township of Burgsinn, in which the Thungen estates are situated. Ten generations of burghers and barons have been disputing the ownership of a large wood. The court has now recognized the township’s claim, condemning the Thungen family to pay the enormous costs which have accumulated during three centuries of litigation. 

Costs — pshaw. I hope, for the Thungens’ sake, that they didn’t have to pay prejudgment interest. If they did, by my calculations — assuming a starting principal of $1,000 and a seven percent annual rate — the judgment would have amounted to just north of $653 billion, three centuries later.

Noncuratlex.com Breaking News: Upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Term “Crammed With Blockbuster Cases,” Say Incredibly Biased People

WASHINGTON, DC (UP) — The upcoming United States Supreme Court term is likely to be one of the most important in recent years, say many lawyers, academics, and journalists who have every personal and professional reason to voice such an opinion.

“The Court will hear one blockbuster case after another this term,” said Martin Aleyn, who has attained a measure of celebrity because of his operation of CourtWatch, a website dedicated to the Supreme Court and its caseload.

CourtWatch will host sponsor advertisements for the first time this term.

Other completely biased pundits agreed with Aleyn’s assessment. “This truly will be a very important term,” said Professor Allison Tregn, a Constitutional law scholar at the Western School of Law whose professional prominence, at any given moment, depends entirely on a widespread sense that the Supreme Court is engaged in “very important” business.

Tregn singled out the campaign-finance case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission as particularly worthy of note. “In deciding the Constitutionality of certain provisions of the McCain-Feingold Act, the Court will be shaping the future of campaign finance. It’s probably the most important case, ever,” she said.

At press time, Tregn was shopping an article on the McCutcheon case to law reviews.

Others who agreed that the Supreme Court was set to decide cases of vital importance to the entire American public included Therese Markel, whose book The Roberts Court will hit bookshelves on October 15; Kevin Oguidaye, The Washington Star newspaper’s Supreme Court beat reporter; and Bob Marko, Ezekiel Chavez, and Rami Buzi, three men paid to stand in line for seats at the Court’s arguments.

***

A joke, obviously. But it did get me to wondering: What was the least important Supreme Court term of the modern era? I’m not qualified to answer the question, but I suspect others might venture better-educated guesses.

 

 

The Personal Injury Lawsuit Crisis, circa 1897

Presented, without further comment, are the first and last paragraphs of “Speculation in Damage Claims,” The North American Review, February 1897:

One of the most remarkable developments of recent years, a development to which public attention is rarely drawn and which those most interested have naturally endeavored to keep from public view, is the rapid growth of the speculation in damage claims for personal injuries. . . . . 

The system of trial by jury as it is now administered—certainly in Chicago, and probably in many portions of the country.—has broken down. The immediate result to Chicago, and to all other places in like condition, must be the cessation of manufacturing and industrial activity, whereas those States where the common law on the subject of negligence is recognized and enforced will be benefited by the change.

How to Plead a Criminal Conversation, Debauchery, or Seduction Tort, Circa 1878

From Estee’s Pleadings (1878 ed):

No. 372

For Criminal Conversation

[Title]

The plaintiff complains, and alleges:

I. That A.B. is, and at the times hereinafter mentioned was, the wife of the plaintiff.

II. That on or about the ___ day of ___, 187_ [the day or about the day the first act of adultery can be proved], and on other days after that day, defendant, wrongfully contriving and intending to injure the plaintiff, and to deprive him of the comfort, society, aid, and assistance of his wife [forcibly and without consent of the said A.B.], wickedly, willfully, and maliciously debauched and carnally knew the said A.B., without the privity or consent of the plaintiff.

III. That by means of the premises, the affection which the said A.B. theretofore had for the plaintiff was alienated and destroyed, and the plaintiff was deprived of the comfort, society, aid, and assistance which he otherwise would have had from the said A.B., and has suffered great distress of body and mind, to his great damage _____ dollars.

No. 373

For Enticing Away Plaintiff’s Wife

[Title]

The plaintiff complains, and alleges:

I. That A.B. is, and at the times hereinafter mentioned was, the wife of the plaintiff.

II. That on or about the ___ day of ____, 187_, while the plaintiff was living and cohabitating with and supporting her, at _________, and while they were living together happily as man and wife, the defendant, wrongfully contriving and intending to injure the plaintiff, and to deprive him of her comfort, society, and existence, maliciously enticed her away from the plaintiff’s and her then residence in ______, to a separate residence in ______, and has ever since there detained and harbored her, against the consent of the plaintiff.

III. That by reason of the premises , the plaintiff has been and still is wrongfully deprived by the defendant of the comfort, society, and aid of his said wife, and has suffered great distress of body and mind in consequence thereof, to his damage of _____ dollars.

No. 374 

For Debauching a Daughter

[Title]

The plaintiff complains, and alleges:

I. That said defendant, unjustly intending to injure said plaintiff, and to deprive him of the services and assistance of the daughter and servant of said plaintiff, did, on the ___ day of _____, 187_, and on divers other days between that day and the commencement of this action, debauch and carnally know the said ______________, then and there, and before and since, the daughter of the said plaintiff, whereby the said ______________ became pregnant and sick with child, and so remained for a long space of time, to wit, the space of nine months thence next following; at the expiration whereof the said _________ was delivered of the child with which she was pregnant as aforesaid.

II. That by means of the premises, the said _______________ for a long space of time, to wit [one year], was unable to do the needful business of the said plaintiff, he, the said plaintiff, so being the father and master of the said ________________, and the said plaintiff lost the services of the said _______________ during all that time; and the said plaintiff was put to great expense, and did pay out a large sum, to wit, the sum of _______ dollars, in and about the nursing and taking care of the said ___________________, his daughter and servant, and in and about the delivery of said child, to his damage in the sum of __________dollars.

No. 376

For Seduction, by the Female Seduced

[Title]

The plaintiff complains, and alleges:

I. That at the time of the commission of the grievances hereinafter mentioned, the plaintiff was and still is an unmarried woman, and at all times prior thereto had been chaste and virtuous.

II. That on the ____ day of _______, 187_, at ________________, the defendant, with force and violence, made an indecent assault upon the plaintiff, and then and there wickedly seduced, debauched, and carnally knew her, whereby she became sick and pregnant with child, and so remained for a long space of time, to wit, for the space of nine months; at the expiration of which time, and on the _____ say of ________, 187_, she was delivered of the child of which she was so pregnant.

III. That by reason of the premises, and in consequence of the seduction aforesaid, the plaintiff has suffered greatly in her health, and became sick, and was prevented for a long space of time, to wit,  for the space of _____ months, from attending to her ordinary business and affairs, and was greatly afflicted in body and mind, and has been put to great expense for medical attendance and nursing, and has otherwise been greatly injured, to her damage _________ dollars.

Granddad’s Patents

I’m a little scared to discuss anything about my grandparents online, for the same reason I no long feel free to engage in casual conversations regarding my favorite songs or movies, first car or pet, or where I went to kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, or high school. Damn Internet password-reminder clues.

But I thought I’d take the chance and share this patent, one of several obtained by one of my grandfathers. He was an engineer, and later worked for the U.S. Army Signal Corps in the years prior to World War II. This patent, which I found over on the PTO’s website, is for some sort of enciphering and deciphering device:

Patent Picture

Patent Picture Two