Rhymin’ Eakin

Pennsylvania Judge Mike Eakin is a poetic soul who specializes in opinions that rhyme.

In Zangrando v. Sipula, Zangrando was walking her miniature poodles, Angel and Autumn, when Sipula struck one of the dogs with his car. Zangrando sued Sipula for payment of the vet bills. Here’s a short excerpt from Judge Eakin’s rhyming decision, affirming the trial court’s award of damages:

The car was coming much too close, something inside told her; the next thing Mrs. Zangrando knew, a poodle flew over her shoulder.

To appellee this was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster; the wingless Angel’d taken flight and ascended quickly past her.

 In this brace of miniature poodles, neither one wide nor tall; one may have been named Autumn, but t’was Angel took the fall.

Don’t worry. Poor little Angel recovered from her injuries. A fundamental rule of writing rhyming judicial opinions—of which there are many in the annals of law—is that the injury be slight. The opinion wouldn’t be as amusing if it rhymed: “When the doggie got squashed under the SUV’s wheels; it put a quick end to his plaintive squeals.”

Zangrando v. Sipula, 756 A.2d 73, 75 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2000). Thanks to Professor Coleen Barger.

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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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