Thanksgiving is long over. But it's nice to look back to one of the very few days a year when we take a break from lawyering and think of nothing but food, football, and festivities. Thanksgiving comes and goes, but many of its memories stay. That is especially so if they are as foul as these incidents that everyone involved was not grateful for.
The Indian-American who was not thankful for her obnoxious former bosses
Two types of people emerge during Thanksgiving season: those who embrace its traditions and those who don’t. Indian-American Promile Aswathi falls somewhere between these two types.
On Thanksgiving Day 2009, Mrs. Aswathi chose to go to work and (rightfully) filed for overtime pay. She would have had reason to be thankful for a job that allows her to work on holidays and pays her for it if it weren’t for the fact that her former bosses weren’t vicious trolls.
According to her lawsuit, her bosses ridiculed her for celebrating the all-American holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas because she’s Indian and denied her overtime pay. They also allegedly called her and her kids “ABCD” (American-Born Confused Desi).
She resigned and sued the company for discriminating against her ethnicity, religion, gender, and age, and causing her emotional strain.
Hey employers, here’s an idea: how about allowing your multiracial staff to celebrate their origin countries’ holidays?
The turkey hunter who was not thankful for his catch
Thanksgiving without turkey is like Christmas without Christmas stockings or ugly knit sweaters — it’s a tradition. What’s not tradition is hunting your own turkey and running afoul of other turkey shooters.
In 2003, hunter James Kent mistakenly shot Neil P. Jacobs who was also turkey hunting within the same woods in New York. According to Mr. Jacobs’ lawsuit, Mr. Kent was a negligent hunter and should have correctly identified the bird before shooting. Mr. Kent cited the doctrine of primary assumption of risk in his defense and essentially claimed that Mr. Jacobs should have assumed the risks inherent in hunting — by which he probably meant being mistaken for a turkey.
Our take: it may be reasonable to expect anyone to make sure they’re shooting birds instead of humans, but it’s not so reasonable for hunters to assume the risk of being shot at intentionally or accidentally by other hunters while turkey hunting.
In any case, if you must put your hunting cap on to pay homage to the pilgrims who hunted turkeys to serve during a thanksgiving feast, make sure you aim at birds and not your fellow hunters.
The customer who was not grateful for turkey bones
It’s an undisputed fact that turkeys have bones.
And, fun fact: dishes similar to turkey like chicken come with bones too, which sometimes make it all the way to one’s throat or esophagus. This is not highly unusual especially during Thanksgiving, what with all the turkey dishes one is likely to eat. It behooves turkey eaters to eat their turkey dishes with caution.
Helen Silva, who was either not careful or just unlucky, choked on a turkey bone while eating at a Woolworth’s restaurant. Luckily, she was able to eject it before it caused serious injuries.
But while it’s unfortunate that she choked and suffered a sore throat from eating a plate of special roast turkey, the restaurant can’t automatically be held liable. In such a case, determining liability rests on whether the object that caused the injury was foreign to the dish. And turkey bones in a turkey dish is as natural as ice in iced coffees.
There are, however, certain objects and circumstances that would have thrown a wrench into the case:
- Fishbone on a turkey dish
- The word “boneless” to describe the item on the restaurant’s menu
The turkey seller who was not thankful for having their turkey care instructions plagiarized
Greenberg Smoked Turkeys sells turkeys and graciously provides those who buy their products with turkey care instructions. These are pretty basic instructions on caring for turkey, including how and when to store and serve the lovely birds.
When they learned of a competitor appropriating the same turkey care instructions for their own merchandise, copyright infringement lawyers were called upon to exact justice on the erring sellers.
It was, however, unclear if Greenberg Smoked Turkeys did copyright their turkey care instructions. But more crucial to the case was whether such text can be copyrighted.
Our hot take: consumers are ultimately unlikely to choose a turkey brand based on the instructions on the packaging.
At the law offices of Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams, we’re still stuffing ourselves silly with leftover Thanksgiving nosh. But our Renton offices are open in case you need legal advice.