Proof Judges Can Do Anything They Want

In Fisher v. Lowe, the plaintiff sued defendant for driving his automobile into plaintiff’s oak tree, damaging the tree. The Michigan trial court ruled in favor of the defendant and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Here is the court’s actual opinion:

We thought that we would never see

A suit to compensate a tree.

A suit whose claim in tort is prest

Upon a mangled tree’s behest;

A tree whose battered trunk was prest

Against a Chevy’s crumpled crest;

A tree that faces each new day

With bark and limb in disarray;

A tree that may forever bear

A lasting need for tender care.

Flora lovers though we three,

We must uphold the court’s decree.

Affirmed.

The court’s opinion prompted the usually staid headnote writers at West Publishing Co. to take their own poetic license. This one’s worth checking out in full.

— Fisher v. Lowe, 333 N.W.2d 67, 67 (Mich. Ct. App. 1983).

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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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