Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I didn’t mean to suggest by my last post that judges should never have fun with their opinions.  Opinions with (appropriate) apropos metaphors and references are interesting and memorable. 

Take, for example, the opinion in Dunkelman v. Cincinnati Bengals, Inc., 821 N.E.2d 198 (Ohio Ct. App. 2004), a case about seat licenses at the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium.  The opinion is peppered with football references.  The Ohio Court of Appeals describes how the trial court “punted the case to binding arbitration,” thereby forcing the appellate court to “reverse the call made on the field.” Id. at 199.  The plaintiffs argued the Bengals tried to change the rules regarding seat licenses “midgame,” a tactic akin to an “illegal pass.” Id. at 201.  Conversely, the Bengals argued that the plaintiffs had agreed to the seat license “gameplan.” Id. at 201.  The appellate court found the plaintiffs were not required to arbitrate their claims and “return[ed] the trial court’s punt.” Id. at 204.

Judicial opinions should always be well reasoned and well written—but they don’t have to be sterile and boring!

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