This article is reprinted with permission by the New York Law Journal from an article that was published on August 28, 2015. In 2009, the CBS news program 60 Minutes profiled the former Director of Veterans Affairs Fred Downs, who lost his left arm in Vietnam. He had relied upon a hook style prosthetic for four decades, when he strapped on a new prototype robotic arm and picked up a bottle of soda and raised it to his lips. In a subsequent episode, when recalling that moment, Downs became emotional, telling reporter Scott Pelley “the feeling is hard to describe, for the first time in 40 years, my left hand did this [grasping]…it felt so good to move my arm again”. Pelley noted Downs had said “moved my arm again”. Pelley asked if it actually felt like his arm. Downs emphatically responded “it did, it felt like my arm, it…Read More
The Legal Rights of Cyborgs – Should Damage to a Prosthetic Be Considered Property Damage or Personal Injury?
This blog post is a reprint, with permission, of an article published in the New York Law Journal on March 25, 2015. From time immemorial, our common law has provided one set of remedies for damage to one’s property and another set for damage to one’s person. While the latter allows the full gamut of recovery including pain and suffering, lost earnings, medical expenses, lost enjoyment of life and loss of consortium, the former merely allows recovery of the property’s repair or replacement value. One cannot even recover for the sentimental value of property[i]. Yet today, many of us depend on our devices to perform the normal tasks of living, such as walking, talking, hearing and seeing. Damage to these prosthetics can leave a person without the ability to work or perform activities of daily living until repaired. As demonstrated in this article, there is arguably a new suspect class…Read More
High School Did Not Violate Constitution by Suspending Student for Texting Violent Feelings to Friend
In Bradford v. Norwich City School District, 3:12-cv-1888, the defendant school suspended a student for 5 days, for sending texts to a friend while in their respective living rooms expressed the desire to harm (slapping, kneeing, kicking) a female student. The Northern District Judge, Glenn Suddaby held that the school neither violated the student’s First Amendment rights nor his Parents Fourteenth Amendment rights to raise their child as they saw fit. The female discovered the texts on the friend’s phone while in school causing her to become emotional which lead to a teacher being shown the texts. Judge Suddaby held that the suspension was constitutional as a reasonable act to protect the school had the student harmed the female student. The decision notes that the rights of students are “not coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings.” Schools have the right to prohibit expression that will “materially and…Read More
After purchasing tickets to the Empire State Building (“ESB”) observatory deck, Allen Henson, a photographer, took cell phone photos of a topless model who accompanied him. He later posted them to a social media site and they went “viral”. They can be seen at: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/boobs-photog-hit-1-1m-suit-article-1.1578135. In January 2014 Mr. Henson was served with a lawsuit by ESB seeking $100,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million punitive damages based on the legal theory than Henson’s cellphone photo shoot was “unlawful and tortious and caused ESB damage to its business and its reputation as a safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction.” ESB claimed that Henson was guilty of tortious trespass. ESB did not name the model who appears to us to have had at least equal responsibility. While it is understandable that ESB would not want topless women mixing with tourists unaccustomed to public nudity, ESB’s contention that Henson’s actions constituted…Read More
Jonathan Martin, an offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins left the team in November and checked himself into a hospital for emotional injuries he claims he suffered at the hands of a teammate and fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito and other team mates. The Dolphins spent time in crisis management mode and announced that Mr. Incognito will never play for the team again and it is also clear now that neither will Mr. Martin. What was so compelling about the story is that Mr. Martin is not the typical victim of bullying. As a starting NFL lineman after a stellar career playing with Andrew Luck at Stanford, Mr. Martin was hardly someone with a weak physical or mental disposition. Whatever happened in that locker room apparently was pretty extreme. There really is no reason to doubt Martin’s intentions since he clearly has more to gain playing football for the Dolphins…Read More
On Monday, December 2, 2013, the NYT reported that an animal rights group The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee in Fulton County, N.Y. Although there are laws that protect animal welfare, this is the first time there has been an attempt to establish that a non-human animal has a right to some measure of “liberty.” The head of the Project is seeking to have New York recognize Tommy as a legal person. The Project says the chimp “is being held captive in a cage in a shed at a used-trailer lot.” They are seeking to have the court place him in one of the several U.S. chimpanzee sanctuaries. The NYT reports that the petition is supported by a “70-plus-page memo rich with legal, scientific and philosophical references” that argues that captive chimps are “enslaved”. The Project argues a chimp is…Read More