Regarding The Obvious Dangers Of Anal Artillery

Law, WTF?

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man on the deck of a fraternity house in proximity to a drunk shooting bottle rockets out of his anus should recognize himself amidst potentially hazardous circumstances.

But in this iconoclastic modern world, not everyone recognizes universal truths. Certainly neither Louis Helmburg III nor his lawyer Timothy P. Rosinsky recognize them. Perhaps that's why they are suing the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity of Huntington, West Virginia, as well as hapless human asscannon Travis Hughes.

To hear Louis the Third tell it in his complaint, he was innocently standing on the deck of the ATO House at Marshall University, no doubt thinking about community service or church or his Org Chem homework, whilst some fraternity kids — and you'd better sit down, this will be difficult to grasp — were drinking underage and engaged in hijinks. Tumult ensued.

Defendant Hughes was highly intoxicated on this date and time, and decided in his drunken stupor that it would be a good idea to shoot bottle rockets out of his anus on the ATO deck, located on the back of the ATO house.

9. Upon information and belief, there were several other ATO fraternity members on the deck at the time of this incident, including one or more officers of the fraternity. Plaintiff and his girlfriend were also present on the ATO deck.

10. Defendant Hughes placed a bottle rocket in his anus, ignited the fuse, but instead oflaunching, the bottle rocket blew up in Defendant's rectum, and this startled plaintiff and caused him to jump back, at which time he fell off of the A TO deck, and he became lodged between the deck and an air conditioner unit adjacent to the deck.

Yes. Louis The Third went to a fraternity party, stood around while fraternity kids drank, and when one of them tried to shoot a bottle rocket of out his ass, he was "startled" and fell off of the deck and injured himself.

Believe it or not, I lived in an ATO house my senior year of college. No, I wasn't in a fraternity. ATO had been kicked off campus sometime back in the mists of prehistory, I believe, and their house converted into a dorm. How awesome was it? It had a roof deck. It had a sauna. Let me repeat — it had a sauna. Are you imagining it? Are you imagining why that was awesome? Yes. Yes it was.

But I digress.

Even as an insufferably nerdy college senior, I recognized that hijinks at an ATO House — even an ATO house converted into a dorm — posed patent risks. That's why I didn't sue the university the time I injured myself leaping out of a second-story window (the sophomores with water balloons and pellet guns were watching my door; it was the only way to flank them) or the time that I fell asleep in the sauna while intoxicated and dehydrated myself to the point of blurred vision. Because life has risks. And certain activities involve increased risks. Standing on fraternity decks while people drink and try to shoot rockets out of their asses is inherently and obviously risky.

But this is America. We sue. We sue even if we decided to stand on that no-railing deck during a drunken party and watch the guy light the fuse. In America, someone else is always responsible.

Hat tip to friend and law school classmate Marc on this one.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

31 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Josh  •  May 1, 2012 @9:10 am

    Wow. Just…wow. I tried to come up with something more eloquent to say, but I just couldn't pull anything better out of my ass.

  2. C. S. P. Schofield  •  May 1, 2012 @9:24 am

    "In a moving summation, the judge ruled that Life itself was responsible and ordered it duely confiscated from all those there present…."

    From THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY radio play

    One can only dream….

  3. Dan  •  May 1, 2012 @9:41 am

    As a past fraternity chapter president, I always cringe when I see a these stories for fear that it was mine. (It wasn't in this case.) No one shot rockets out of their butts to my knowledge, but we did all kinds of terrible things that I now know were unbelievably dangerous and reckless. Youth, beer, and a lack of legal education contributed to my naivete.

    I used to have fraternity president on my resume early in law school. I thought it showed leadership. An interviewer asked me if it meant I was the best at binge drinking. I deleted it that day.

  4. TJIC  •  May 1, 2012 @9:43 am

    > as hapless human asscannon Travis Hughes

    Huh! Those first five words usually end with a different last name.

    At least in MY experience.

  5. TJIC  •  May 1, 2012 @9:44 am

    > ATO

    A friend tells me that at Carnegie Melon ATO was fondly ("fondly") known as "Ape Training Organization".

  6. SFDex  •  May 1, 2012 @9:50 am

    I am not an attorney, but I do work in the Judicial Branch. I could die happy (or be laid-off happy) if I ever heard the phrase "hapless human asscannon" uttered in a court.

  7. Jeff  •  May 1, 2012 @9:59 am

    Travis Hughes should legally change his name post-haste. I'm fairly certain that Mr. Hapless Human Asscannon is the new poster boy for the concept that the internet never forgets. For the remainder of his truly unnatural life whenever a potential future employer Googles him, I'd say his chances of ever being gainfully employed as anything other than a stunt double for Jackass movies are between slim and none (assuming he's even capable of sitting through the interview).

  8. PLW  •  May 1, 2012 @10:03 am

    Can I sue for you forcing me to imagine you in a sauna?

  9. ElamBend  •  May 1, 2012 @10:04 am

    As the former chapter president of a different fraternity these kind of stories always make me cringe in a knowing way. Before even getting to the second half of your post, the mention of a sauna in a fraternity house/dorm had me wondering how many died in it. Being chapter president is the worlds worst babysitting job; no one pays you, your charges hate you when you check them, the administration thinks you're a monkey, and if some legal adult in your club does something stupid, you're going to get sued for it.

    Also, I, unfortunately, have abused the consumption of alcohol in the past. I have a scar on my hand as partial proof. I saw a guy try to shoot out an offending street lamp with a .45 hand canon under similar circumstances. I had a fraternity brother who regularly wet himself when inebriated. I saw much stupidity. However, I don't recall anyone, ever, having such an ass-numbingly [literally] stupid idea as shooting a bottle rocket out their anus.

  10. bakerina  •  May 1, 2012 @11:14 am

    Helloooooooo, Modified Comparative Negligence Jurisdiction! (Said in the same tone of voice as "Helloooooooo, Nurse!" on Animaniacs.)

    I do have to give Louis the Third props for ingenuity, throwing in that strict liability for UHA claim. And I have to thank him for one of the best lines I've ever read in a non-Rakofsky complaint: "Defendant Hughes also owed plaintiff and others on the ATO deck a duty of care not to drink underage, or to fire bottle rockets out of his anus." I mean, dude, that's some golden prose.

  11. bakerina  •  May 1, 2012 @11:17 am

    (Also, I really wanted to make a Palsgraff joke, but I'm coming up empty. I know there's one out there, though!)

  12. James H  •  May 1, 2012 @11:23 am

    Is it wrong that I sympathize at least a little bit with Plaintiff here? Granted, one should have a reasonable expectation of drunkenness at a fraternity party … but I'm not sure that extends to an expectation that somebody's going to fire pyrotechnics out his rear end.

    Unless the hapless human asscannon already had such a reputation, of course …

  13. Joe  •  May 1, 2012 @11:30 am

    I can just see it now.

    Biology professor: So if Mr. Hughes ignited the end of a bottle rocket whereby the end being ignited was on the outside of his anus and the tip was on the inside of his anus, what path through the human anatomy might this rocket travel once ignited? Yes you in the back row – uh no, I wouldn’t consider this an appropriate procedure for conducting a colonoscopy.

    Physics professor: If the rocket was positioned at an angle whereby the end to be ignited was angled 90 degrees towards the ground and the tip of the rocket was pointed perpendicular to the sky, exactly how much thrust per square inch would be required for said rocket to escape the gravitational force of Mr. Hughes clenched butt cheeks?

    Law professor: A drunk student, Mr. Hughes, lights a bottle rocket lodged in his anus on the roof deck of a frat house. The resulting explosion startles another student who falls off the deck sustaining injury. In this case, Mr. Hughes was guilty of which of the following:

    a) Jactitation
    b) Befuggery
    c) Corium forisfacere
    d) Improper use of fireworks while under the influence
    e) Embarassing his parents
    f) All of the above
    g) None of the above
    h) B, D and E

  14. Mercury  •  May 1, 2012 @11:32 am

    Dan,
    if you're still alive and your house is still on campus it shows that you have a good track record of successfully managing risk!

    Show me a guy who has had to make a lot of decisions under stress where every option involves drunkenness violence or “bad optics” and I’ll show you someone who probably wasn’t president of the Campus Green Initiative.

  15. Jess  •  May 1, 2012 @11:45 am

    Urban dictionary: Butt Hurt – An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult. Characterized by strong feelings of shame. See also – Travis Hughes

    http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/210/790/butt-hurt.jpg

  16. Jess  •  May 1, 2012 @12:22 pm

    BTW – I can’t be the only one thinking if this ever went to jury trial the Plaintiff could lose considering he was also under the influence and didn’t have the sense to leave the area when some idiot dropped his pants and attempted to light a bottle rocket.

    I’m thinking the only real reason they filed the lawsuit was to embarrass the Defendant's parents into settling – which I would assume they will do in order to avoid further embarrassment.

  17. C. S. P. Schofield  •  May 1, 2012 @12:26 pm

    "I’m thinking the only real reason they filed the lawsuit was to embarrass the Defendant's parents into settling – which I would assume they will do in order to avoid further embarrassment."

    I would assume that if they haven't already died of embarrassment, they are incapable of feeling it at all.

  18. skwilli  •  May 1, 2012 @1:26 pm

    "It was Bush's fault" probably would be a winning strategy in Court. I'd recommend Gloria Allred for that one. A seven figure settlement is up for grabs. Too bad about the other guy. Hurt? I hear it rectum….

  19. SarahW  •  May 1, 2012 @3:21 pm

    I forgot W. VA is a a comparative negligence state. But there has to be some kind of "assumption of the bottle rockets" defense.

    Also you could be the only human alive whose Pride and Prejudice sequel I would read.

  20. Laura K  •  May 1, 2012 @7:15 pm

    I've tried. I really have…but there are no words sufficient to convey my admiration of this piece. There.Are.No.Words.

  21. Amiable Dorsai  •  May 2, 2012 @2:47 am

    "That's why I didn't sue the university the time I injured myself leaping out of a second-story window (the sophomores with water balloons and pellet guns were watching my door; it was the only way to flank them) or the time that I fell asleep in the sauna while intoxicated and dehydrated myself to the point of blurred vision."

    You should have sued. Later in life that kind of trauma can lead to erratic behaviors like blogging.

  22. Tim  •  May 2, 2012 @5:39 am

    What the devil are they teaching kids these days? When I was a counselor at summer camp we taught children how to safely ignite their own farts. Nowadays we ban fart-flambeaux and look what happens: some young idiot reinvents the wheel and gets it terribly wrong. Typical nanny-statist blowback.

  23. AlphaCentauri  •  May 2, 2012 @5:52 am

    "I used to have fraternity president on my resume early in law school. I thought it showed leadership. An interviewer asked me if it meant I was the best at binge drinking. I deleted it that day."

    I am so looking forward to the day the plaintiff is looking for work, realizes the internet isn't as easy to edit as a resume, and tries to have some reputation management service convince Ken to vaporize this post. Holy Streisand effect! That will be worth the price of admission.

  24. Jess  •  May 2, 2012 @7:16 am

    A.C. – he could always use Cox. She brags about how good she is at reputation and SEO management and she probably needs the money right about now. Oh the thought. Horrors. Meanwhile what I should have posted earlier is this guy looks like the perfect attorney for the defendant.

    http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/210/790/butt-hurt.jpg

  25. Joe  •  May 2, 2012 @8:59 am

    @bakerina – your wish is granted.

    In November 2011, a retired sailor who blames the Royal Australian Navy for his drinking problem is one of four ex-servicemen suing the government because they drink, eat and smoke too much or suffer from erectile dysfunction. The four men have fronted the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia in separate attempts to force the nation's taxpayers to compensate them for their vices or erectile dysfunction.

    Geoff Leitch, who lives in Tasmania, is one of three retired naval officers, all veterans of either the Korean or Vietnam wars, who blame their alcohol, tobacco and food demons on the stress of serving their country and a navy culture of excess. The tribunal heard that Leitch went from having a couple of cans of beer a fortnight when he enlisted in the navy in 1969 to at least six a night soon after experiencing the trauma of the Vietnam conflict. But the tribunal upheld an earlier decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs not to award him a pension usually reserved for serviceman suffering from war-related injuries or illness.

    Leitch, 59, said he already received an ex-serviceman pension and disability pension for osteoarthritis in one of his knees, a fractured leg injury, and a hearing deficiency. But Leitch said he felt entitled to extra, as a result of his drinking problem, which he claims he developed in the navy. "I went from the junior ranks to the senior ranks in 1977 and when you get into the senior ranks the mess fridge was there and you could have a beer at 4:00pm," he said. "You could drink as much as you like and nobody complained as long as you showed up for your duties the next morning."

    I have to wonder if the copious drinking affected their thought process about making something like erectile dysfunction part of the public record. Egads, the embarrassment – or not depending on how much alcohol they are consuming.

  26. Nigel Declan  •  May 2, 2012 @7:39 pm

    Fortunately, the defendants can all sue the manufacturer of the bottle rocket for failing to expressly warn of the obviously very real risk of injury resulting not only for use of the product while intoxicated, but its insertion and use in one's anus as well as the equally real dangers of standing on a railless deck within earshot of one who is intoxicated and inserted and used a bottle rocket in his anus. Also, the company that installed the A/C unit should have reasonably foreseen a guy falling off a deck after being startled by drunken ass explosions and getting wedged between the deck and the A/C unit if not installed the proper minimum distance from the deck.

    Given that the use of "III" in the name suggests to me that the plaintiff is a man of means (or the child of a man of means), I look forward to the passage of "Louis III's Law", which specifically addresses this exact situation and ensures that noone will ever have to suffer the way Mr. Louis III has. As we know, those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it, even if the history is falling off a deck with no rails at a frat party because some drunk guy tried to shoot a bottle rocket out of his ass.

  27. Marc  •  May 2, 2012 @9:46 pm

    <— Checks "be the source of one of Ken's posts, without engaging in stupid, violent, illegal or otherwise douche-like behavior" off of bucket list.

    I secretly hoped that Ken would trot out his famous "Butt-hurt in the first degree" phrase, but in retrospect it's a little too on the…nose.

  28. busyba  •  May 4, 2012 @9:19 am

    I can't help but wonder if the plaintiff's attorney is Howard Roy Schechter.

  29. Louise  •  May 6, 2012 @8:02 pm

    i do not understand why 'frat' crap is considered OK behavior for anyone!! I don't care if you are 'young' or 'drunk' or a 'college' student, it is still imormal, ignorant, stupid, dangerous and uncouth behavior.

  30. Frank  •  May 7, 2012 @6:51 am

    I think the main point is being missed by the stress on the location of the rocket 'launcher'. The bottle rocket did not launch, it exploded 'on the pad' and plaintiff was startled and fell.

    The rocket could have been deployed traditionally, i.e., in a bottle, misfired and exploded, with the same unforeseen result for the plaintiff.

1 Trackback