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(561) Fisher v. Lowe - Michigan Court of Appeals

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  • Sam Droege
    Fisher v. Lowe A wayward Chevy struck a tree Whose owner sued defendants three. He sued car s owner, driver, too, And insurer for what was due For his oak
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2005
      "Fisher v. Lowe"

      A wayward Chevy struck a tree
      Whose owner sued defendants three.
      He sued car's owner, driver, too,
      And insurer for what was due
      For his oak tree that now may bear
      A lasting need for tender care.
      The Oakland County Circuit Court,
      John N. O'Brian, J., set forth
      The judgment that defendants sought,
      And quickly an appeal was brought.
      Court of Appeals, J. H. Gillis, J.,
      Gave thought and then had this to say:
      1) There is no liability,
      Since No-Fault grants immunity,
      2) No jurisdiction can be found
      Where process service is unsound;
      And thus the judgment, as it's termed
      Is due to be, and is

      [1] AUTOMOBILES k251.13
      Defendant's Chevy struck a tree,
      There was no liability.
      The No-Fault Act comes into play,
      As owner and the driver say.
      Barred by the act's immunity,
      No suit in tort will aid the tree.
      Although the oak's in disarray,
      No court can make defendants pay.

      [2] PROCESS k4
      No jurisdiction could be found,
      Where process service is unsound.
      In personam jurisdiction
      Was not even legal fiction
      Where plaintiff failed to well comply
      With rules of court that did apply.

      * * *

      J. H. GILLIS, Judge.
      We thought that we would never see
      A suit to compensate a tree.
      A suit whose claim in tort is prest,
      Upon a mangled tree's behest;
      A tree whose battered trunk was prest
      Against a Chevy's crumpled crest;
      A tree that faces each new day
      With bark and limb in disarray;
      A tree that may forever bear
      A lasting need for tender care.
      Flora lovers though we three,
      We must affirm the court's decree.


      -- Michigan Court of Appeals

      333 N.W. 2d 67 (Mich. App. 1983) (footnotes (in
      prose) omitted).

      Notes on this poem follow from someone named Mark from
      the Wandering Minstrels listservÂ…..

      Yes, this is an honest-to-goodness Michigan appellate
      court decision. It's
      still valid (though uninteresting) law, too.

      It's not the only time a judge has been inspired by a
      funny or silly or (in
      this case) wildly frivolous lawsuit to launch into
      verse. After a few
      years, the starchy style you're pretty much forced to
      accept as a jurist
      really begins to drag on some people, I guess. But
      this one's a rarity, for
      the following reasons: (1) Usually, any poetry is
      written by the dissent,
      with the majority opinion written in boring prose.
      (2) For some reason,
      this time the verse was infectious: Thanks to
      Gillis's opinion (offered
      unanimously by the three-judge panel), the author of
      the syllabus (the first
      bit) and the headnotes (the little blurb summary bits
      with the numbers) were
      also inspired to rhyme. Lastly, (3) it's one of the
      two examples I know of
      where not only is the opinion in verse, it is also a
      direct parody of a
      specific poem. (There's also "In Re Love," 61 B.R.
      558 (Bankr. S. D. Fla.
      1986), which is a very good parody of The Raven, but
      that doesn't really
      count since it's not real law. The opinion is the
      judge denying his own sua
      sponte motion-in English instead of legalese, that
      means it's a pointless
      activity for the sole purpose of producing an opinion
      with no possible legal

      Ah, poetic justice.


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