Argument Unbound by Logic or Precedent Impresses Court, But Fails

Goshgarian v. George involved warring neighbors, one of whom continually dumped dirty water from his swimming pool onto the other’s property.

The water-dumping defendant came up with the imaginative, if not quite legally sound, argument that, since the County of Fresno had an easement on the property for the drainage and disposal of water, the individual defendant should have the same right.

The court was downright astonished by the creativity of the argument (paragraph breaks inserted):

Only a mind unburdened by the ephemeral shackles of legal training and gloriously free of the stultifying pomposities of precedent and stare decisis could have formulated the epiphanous principle that what the public may do as an entity, so may individual members of the public do, acting in their individual capacities.

Appellate counsel for cross-complainants, with an imagination dulled by years of legal training, evidently lacked the audacity to appreciate cross-defendants’ argument and misinterpreted (and diminished) it as a mundane attack upon the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury’s finding of trespass.

Not so. Cross-defendant Mr. George is on the wave front of the expanding legal universe, Prometheus unbound by the strictures of logic and reason that constrain lawyers and judges in their quotidian professional functions.

 There is just one problem. The easement is for storm drain water, not mosquito infested swimming pool effluent.

Goshgarian v. George, 161 Cal. App. 3d 1214, 1222–23 (1984). Thanks to Eli Ben-Shmuel.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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