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Wile E. Coyote v. Acme Company: From the Docket

Coyote Did you know that there is an extensive docket of materials available online in the long-running Wile E. Coyote v. Acme Company case? As anyone over the age of 30 probably knows, Mr. Coyote for many years attempted to use Acme products in his pursuit of an elusive Road Runner. Without exception, to my knowledge, his efforts failed, often resulting in severe and unusual bodily injury. Not surprisingly, it appears that Mr. Coyote has elected to pursue a case against Acme for product liability and gross negligence.

In his opening statement, Mr. Coyote's attorney, Harold Schoff, pulled no punches. Schoff said that on 85 separate occasions, Coyote had purchased Acme products that caused him bodily injury, some of which "have temporarily restricted his ability to make a living in the profession of predator."

Consider some of Mr. Coyote allegations:

  • The Rocket Sled: Coyote alleges that the Rocket Sled accelerated with "such sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote's forelimbs to a length of fifteen feet." Later, due to "poor design and engineering on the Rocket Sled and a faulty or non-existent steering system ... the unchecked progress of the Rocket Sled led it and Mr. Coyote into collision with the side of a mesa."
  • The Rocket Skates: Similar inadequacies in the Acme Rocket Skates caused him to lose control and collide "with a roadside billboard so violently as to leave a hole in the shape of his full silhouette."
  • Explosives: Coyote alleges that on "occasions too numerous to list," he has suffered mishaps with Acme explosives. Coyote claims that "indeed, it is safe to say that not once has an explosive purchased of Defendant by Mr. Coyote performed in an expected manner."
  • Spring-Powered Shoes. The complaint alleges in detail Coyote's harrowing experience with these shoes, which ultimately resulted in Coyote sufering an extraordinary injury that "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 always, however, there are two sides to the story. Counsel for Acme, Nicholas J. McSlick, paints a very different picture, arguing that Coyote cannot prove his case and that moreover, he assumed known risks, failed to heed printed warnings, intentionally misused Acme products, and made substantial charges to the design and character of the products thereby voiding all warranties and absolving Acme of all civil liability.

Among Acme's key arguments:

  • Coyote is a malingerer. Warner Bros. footage shows that despite claims of allegedly "horrendous, grotesque, debilitating and life threatening injuries, [Coyote] is seen no more than 30 seconds later totally uninjured and unscathed."
  • Rocket Sled: Coyote failed to assemble the sled properly and, in any event, "was seen 30 seconds later on the rocket skates which were purchased on the very same date as the rocket sled."
  • Rocket Skates:Coyote assumed a known risk attempting to pilot the skates while wearing plaster casts.
  • Spring-Powered Shoes: Coyote made alterations to the product, affixing them to a boulder, in contravention of the clear warning on the brochure included with his purchase, to wit: WARNING! SEVERE RECOIL. THIS PRODUCT IS INTENDED FOR PERSONAL PROPULSION ONLY. ATTACH ACME SPRING-POWERED SHOES ONLY TO FEET, AS DESCRIBED IN THE OWNER'S MANUAL, PAGE 3, PARAGRAPH (a)(2). FAILURE TO FOLLOW OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS MAY RESULT IN SEVERE PERSONAL INJURY.

In conclusion, McSlick argues, "the occupation of predator is high risk profession, and a large percentage of such businesses fail each year. Mr. Coyote does not wish to be compensated for any alleged negligence of Acme Company. Instead, he seeks to be rewarded for his own negligence and ineptitude."


There is also an expert witness report (on behalf of the plaintiff) focused on the Rocket Skates available here.

Posted by Bruce Carton on June 11, 2010 at 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)


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