Princess Bride and Jurisprudence

A Wisconsin lawyer is defending a client from charges of “sexual gratification with an animal.” But in this case, the deer was dead at the relevant time, so the principal defense is that a dead deer isn’t an “animal” as contemplated by the statute (i.e., the law doesn’t outlaw sex with a carcass). In support of this argument, the lawyer invokes a reputable secondary authority, the movie Princess Bride, citing the line uttered by Miracle Max (played by Billy Crystal) that “there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.”

This got me thinking about the number of times that lines from the Princess Bride movie have been cited in judicial opinions. After all, that movie is filled with quotable lines, and my law school roommate and I wasted many, many hours watching the movie and quoting the lines to each other. So, I did a search in Westlaw for the term “Princess Bride” and came up with 2 relevant hits:

1) Westfield Ins. Co. v. Galatis, 100 Ohio St. 3d 216 (Ohio Nov. 5, 2003). In a dissent, Jduge Pfeifer wrote:

{¶ 100} The three sitting justices who are in the majority have all been applauded as practitioners of judicial restraint. As to that restraint, I am reminded of the words of the character Inigo Montoya from the movie “The Princess Bride”:

{¶ 101} “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Ouch!

2) Adkins v. E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., Inc., 1995 WL 704779 (D. Del. Nov. 21, 1995):

FN5. Despite this representation, plaintiffs close their argument against defendants’ Rule (9(b) motion with a plea that, should the court find for defendants, plaintiffs be granted leave to amend. The court is hard pressed to see just how plaintiffs could amend, given their position that the provision of a more specific pleading is “inconceivable.” The court assumes that in their word choice plaintiffs have succumbed to cinematic hyperbole. See, The Princess Bride (Twentieth Century Fox, 1987).

UPDATE: In the Wisconsin case, the appeal to Princess Bride failed.

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