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In The United States District Court
Southwestern District, Tempe, Arizona
The Honorable Homer Simpson, Presiding
Wile E. Coyote, )
v. ) Case No. B19293
Acme Company, )
Opening statement of Mr. Ralf Rinkle, attorney for Mr. Coyote:
My client, Mr. Wile E. Coyote, a resident of Arizona and contiguous
states, does hereby bring suit for damages against the Acme Company,
manufacturer and retail distributor of assorted merchandise,
incorporated in Delaware and doing business in every state, district,
and territory. Mr. Coyote seeks compensation for personal injuries,
loss of business income, and mental suffering caused as a direct result
of the actions and/or gross negligence of said company, under Title 15
of the United States Code, Chapter 47, section 2072, subsection (a),
relating to product liability.
Mr. Coyote states that on eighty-five separate occasions he has
purchased of the Acme Company (hereinafter, "Defendant"), through that
company's mail-order department, certain products which did cause him
bodily injury due to defects in manufacture or improper cautionary
labeling. Sales slips made out to Mr. Coyote as proof of purchase are
at present in the possession of the Court, marked Exhibit A. Such
injuries sustained by Mr. Coyote have temporarily restricted his ability
to make a living in his profession of predator. Mr. Coyote is self-
employed and thus not eligible for Workmen's Compensation.
Mr. Coyote states that on December 13th he received of Defendant via
parcel post one Acme Rocket Sled. The intention of Mr. Coyote was to
use the Rocket sled to aid him in pursuit of his prey. Upon receipt of
the Rocket Sled Mr. Coyote removed it from its wooden shipping crate and
sighting his prey in the distance, activated the ignition. As Mr.
Coyote gripped the handlebars, the Rocket Sled accelerated with such
sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote's forelimbs to a
length of fifty feet. Subsequently, the rest of Mr. Coyote's body shot
forward with a violent jolt, causing severe strain to his back and neck
and placing him unexpectedly astride the Rocket Sled. Disappearing over
the horizon at such speed as to leave a
diminishing jet trail along its path, the Rocket Sled soon brought Mr.
Coyote abreast of his prey. At that moment the animal he was pursuing
veered sharply to the right. Mr. Coyote vigorously attempted to follow
this maneuver but was unable to, due to poorly designed steering on the
Rocket Sled and a faulty or nonexistent braking system. Shortly
thereafter, the unchecked progress of the Rocket Sled brought it and
Mr. Coyote into collision with the side of a mesa.
Paragraph One of the Report of Attending Physician (Exhibit B), prepared
by Dr. Ernest Grosscup, M.D., D.O., details the multiple fractures,
contusions, and tissue damage suffered by Mr. Coyote as a result of this
collision. Repair of the injuries required a full bandage around the
head (excluding the ears), a neck brace, and full or partial casts on
all four legs.
Hampered by these injuries, Mr. Coyote was nevertheless obliged to
support himself. With this in mind, he purchased of Defendant as an aid
to mobility one pair of Acme Rocket Skates. When he attempted to use
this product, however, he became involved in an accident remarkably
similar to that which occurred with the Rocket Sled. Again, Defendant
sold over the counter, without caveat, a product which attached powerful
jet engines (in this case, two) to inadequate vehicles, with little or
no provision for passenger safety. Encumbered by his heavy casts, Mr.
Coyote lost control of the Rocket Skates soon after strapping them on,
and collided with a roadside billboard so violently as to leave a hole
in the shape of his full silhouette.
Mr. Coyote states that on occasions too numerous to list in this
document he has suffered mishaps with explosives purchased of Defendant:
the Acme "Little Giant" Firecracker, the Acme Self-Guided Aerial Bomb,
etc. (For a full listing, see the Acme Mail Order Explosives Catalogue
and attached deposition, entered in evidence as Exhibit C.) Indeed, it
is safe to say that not once has an explosive purchased of Defendant by
Mr. Coyote performed in an expected manner.
To cite just one example: At the expense of much time and personal
effort, Mr. Coyote constructed around the outer rim of a butte a wooden
trough beginning at the top of the butte and spiraling downward around
it to some few feet above a black X painted on the desert floor. The
trough was designed in such a way that a spherical explosive of the type
sold by Defendant would roll easily and swiftly down to the point of
detonation indicated by the X. Mr. Coyote placed a generous pile of
birdseed directly on the X, and then, carrying the spherical Acme Bomb
(Catalogue #78-832), climbed to the top of the butte. Mr. Coyote's
prey, seeing the birdseed, approached, and Mr. Coyote proceeded to light
the fuse. In an instant, the fuse burned down to the stem, causing the
bomb to detonate.
In addition to reducing all Mr. Coyote's careful preparations to naught,
the premature detonation of Defendant's product resulted in the
following disfigurements to Mr. Coyote:
1. Severe singeing of the hair on the head, neck, and muzzle.
2. Sooty discoloration.
3. Fracture of the left ear at the stem, causing the ear to dangle in
the after shock with a creaking noise.
4. Full or partial combustion of whiskers, producing kinking,
frazzling, and ashy disintegration.
5. Radical widening of the eyes, due to brow and lid charring.
We come now to the Acme Spring-Powered Shoes. The remains of a pair of
these purchased by Mr. Coyote on June 23rd are Plaintiff's Exhibit D.
Selected fragments have been shipped to the metallurgical laboratories
of the University of California at Santa Barbara for analysis, but to
date, no explanation has been found for this product's sudden and
As advertised by Defendant, this product is simplicity itself: two wood-
and-metal sandals, each attached to milled-steel springs of high tensile
strength and compressed in a tightly coiled position by a cocking device
with a lanyard release. Mr. Coyote believed that this product would
enable him to pounce upon his prey in the initial moments of the chase,
when swift reflexes are at a premium.
To increase the shoes' thrusting power still further, Mr. Coyote affixed
them by their bottoms to the side of a large boulder. Adjacent to the
boulder was a path which Mr. Coyote's prey was known to frequent. Mr.
Coyote put his hind feet in the wood-and-metal sandals and crouched in
readiness, his right forepaw holding firmly to the lanyard release.
Within a short time Mr. Coyote's prey did indeed appear on the path
coming toward him. Unsuspecting, the prey stopped near Mr. Coyote, well
within range of the springs at full extension. Mr. Coyote gauged the
distance with care and proceeded to pull the lanyard release.
At this point, Defendant's product should have thrust Mr. Coyote forward
and away from the boulder. Instead, for reasons yet unknown, the Acme
Spring-Powered Shoes thrust the boulder away from Mr. Coyote. As the
intended prey looked on unharmed, Mr. Coyote hung suspended in air.
Then the twin springs recoiled, bringing Mr. Coyote to a violent feet-
first collision with the boulder, the full weight of his head and
forequarters falling upon his extremities.
The force of this impact then caused the springs to rebound, whereupon
Mr. Coyote was thrust skyward. A second recoil and collision followed.
The boulder, meanwhile, which was roughly ovoid in shape, had begun to
bounce down a hillside, the coiling and recoiling of the springs adding
to its velocity. At each bounce, Mr. Coyote came into contact with the
boulder, or the boulder came into contact with Mr. Coyote, or both came
into contact with the ground. As the grade was a long one, this process
continued for sometime.
The sequence of collisions resulted in systemic physical damage to Mr.
Coyote, viz., flattening of the cranium, sideways displacement of the
tongue, reduction of length of legs and upper body, and compression of
vertebrae from base of tail to head. Repetition of blows along a
vertical axis produced a series of regular horizontal folds in Mr.
Coyote's body tissues--a rare and painful condition which caused Mr.
Coyote to expand upward and contract downward alternately as he walked,
and to emit an off-key, accordion-like wheezing with every step. The
distracting and embarrassing nature of this symptom has been a major
impediment to Mr. Coyote's pursuit of a normal social life.
As the court is no doubt aware, Defendant has a virtual monopoly of
manufacture and sale of goods required by Mr. Coyote's work. It is our
contention that Defendant has used its market advantage to the detriment
of the consumer of such specialized products as itching powder, giant
kites, Burmese tiger traps, anvils, and two-hundred-foot-long rubber
bands. Much as he has come to mistrust Defendant's products, Mr. Coyote
has no other domestic source of supply to which to turn. One can only
wonder what our trading partners in Western Europe and Japan would make
of such a situation, where a giant company is allowed to victimize the
consumer in the most reckless and wrongful manner over and over again.
Mr. Coyote respectfully requests that the Court regard these larger
economic implications and assess punitive damages in the amount of
seventeen million dollars. In addition, Mr. Coyote seeks actual damages
(missed meals, medical expenses, days lost from professional occupation)
of one million dollars; general damages (mental suffering, injury to
reputation) of twenty million dollars; and attorney's fees of seven
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. By awarding Mr. Coyote the full
amount, this Court will censure Defendant, its directors, officers,
shareholders, successors, and assigns, in the only language they
understand, and reaffirm the right of the individual predator to equal
protection under the law.
[This lawsuit appeared in a column, written by Scott Anderson. You can
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[On 12/12/95 we received the following e-mail:
>Subject: Re: Wiley Coyote v. Acme Company
>I read the above item at your web site, and it seems to be an almost
>verbatim copy of "Coyote v. Acme" by Ian Frazier, which was published
>in the New Yorker magazine on 2/26/90, pages 42-43. However, you give
>no credit to Mr. Frazier. . . .
Since we have no idea who, if anyone, actually has rights to this work
we hope that these acknowledgements will satisfy. If not, let us know.
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