IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT,
SOUTHWESTERN DISTRICT, TEMPE, ARIZONA
CASE NO. B19294, JUDGE JOAN KUJAVA, PRESIDING
Wile E. Coyote, Plaintiff
Acme Company, Defendant
Opening Statement of Mr. Harold Schoff, 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 labelling. 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 fity
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 of all four
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 to violently as to leave a hole in the shape of his full
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
spiralling 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 (Catalog #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
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.
3.Fracture of the left ear at the stem, causing the ear to dangle in the
aftershock 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 now come 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 extreme
malfunciton. 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 his 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 woon-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 of forequarters
falling upon his lower 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 roughtly 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
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, accordionlike wheezing with every step. The distracting and
embarassing 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 comsumer 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. Total damages: thirty-eight million seven
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. By awarding Mr. Coyote the full amount,
this Court will censure Defendant, its directory, 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.
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