|Coyote v. Acme Products Corp.
version of an original piece by Frazier, I., Coyote v. Acme, New Yorker. v66, Feb 26,
1990, p. 42
COYOTE V. ACME PRODUCTS CORP.
In The United States District Court,
Southwestern District, Tempe, Arizona
Case No. B19293
February 29, 1992
Judge Homer Simpson, Presiding
Wile E. Coyote, Plaintiff
Acme Products Corporation, A Delaware Corporation, Defendant
Plaintiff's Opening Statement
Defendant's Opening Statement
OPENING STATEMENT OF MR. IMA SCHOFFER, ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF, MR. WILE E.
My client, Mr.
Wile E. Coyote, a resident of Arizona and contiguous states, does hereby bring suit
for damages against the Acme Products Corporation ("ACME"), manufacturer and
retail distributor of assorted merchandise, incorporated in Delaware and doing business in
every state, district, and territory. Mr. Coyote seeks compensation for personal injuries,
loss of business income, and mental suffering caused as a direct result of the actions
and/or gross negligence of said company, under Title 15 of the United States Code, Chapter
47, section 2072, subsection (a), relating to product liability.
Mr. Coyote states that on eighty-five separate occasions he has purchased of the Acme
Company (hereinafter, "Defendant"), through that company`s mail-order
department, certain products which did cause him bodily injury due to defects in
manufacture or improper cautionary labelling. Sales slips made out to Mr. Coyote as proof
of purchase are at present in the possession of the Court, marked Exhibit A. Such injuries
sustained by Mr. Coyote have temporarily restricted his ability to make a living in his
profession of predator. Mr. Coyote is self-employed and thus not eligible for Workers
Mr. Coyote states that on December 13, 1989, he received of Defendant via parcel post
one Acme Rocket Sled. The intention of Mr. Coyote was to use the Rocket sled to aid him in
pursuit of his prey. Upon receipt of the Rocket Sled Mr. Coyote removed it from its wooden
shipping crate and sighting his prey in the distance, activated the ignition. As Mr.
Coyote gripped the handlebars, the Rocket Sled accelerated with such sudden and
precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote`s forelimbs to a length of fifty feet.
Subsequently, the rest of Mr. Coyote`s body shot forward with a violent jolt, causing
severe strain to his back and neck and placing him unexpectedly astride the Rocket Sled.
Disappearing over the horizon at such speed as to leave a diminishing jet trail along its
path, the Rocket Sled soon brought Mr. Coyote abreast of his prey. At that moment the
animal he was pursuing veered sharply to the right. Mr. Coyote vigorously attempted to
follow this maneuver but was unable to, due to poorly designed steering on the Rocket Sled
and a faulty or nonexistent braking system. Shortly thereafter, the unchecked progress of
the Rocket Sled brought it and Mr. Coyote into collision with the side of a mesa.
Paragraph One of the Report of Attending Physician (Exhibit B), prepared by Dr. Ernest
Grosscup, M.D., D.O., details the multiple fractures, contusions, and tissue damage
suffered by Mr. Coyote as a result of this collision. Repair of the injuries required a
full bandage around the head (excluding the ears), a neck brace, and full or partial casts
on all four legs.
Hampered by these injuries, Mr. Coyote was nevertheless obliged to support himself.
With this in mind, he purchased of Defendant as an aid to mobility one pair of Acme Rocket
Skates. When he attempted to use this product, however, he became involved in an accident
remarkably similar to that which occurred with the Rocket Sled. Again, Defendant sold over
the counter, without caveat, a product which attached powerful jet engines (in this case,
two) to inadequate vehicles, with little or no provision for passenger safety. Encumbered
by his heavy casts, Mr. Coyote lost control of the Rocket Skates soon after strapping them
on, and collided with a roadside billboard so violently as to leave a hole in the shape of
his full silhouette.
Mr. Coyote states that on occasions too numerous to list in this document he has
suffered mishaps with explosives purchased of Defendant: the Acme "Little Giant"
Firecracker, the Acme Self-Guided Aerial Bomb, etc. (For a full listing, see the Acme Mail
Order Explosives Catalogue and attached deposition, entered in evidence as Exhibit C.)
Indeed, it is safe to say that not once has an explosive purchased of Defendant by Mr.
Coyote performed in an expected manner. To cite just one example: At the expense of much
time and personal effort, Mr. Coyote constructed around the outer rim of a butte a wooden
trough beginning at the top of the butte and spiraling downward around it to some few
feet above a black X painted on the desert floor. The trough was designed in such a way
that a spherical explosive of the type sold by Defendant would roll easily and swiftly
down to the point of detonation indicated by the X. Mr. Coyote placed a generous pile of
birdseed directly on the X, and then, carrying the spherical Acme Bomb (Catalogue
#78-832), climbed to the top of the butte. Mr. Coyote's prey, seeing the birdseed,
approached, and Mr. Coyote proceeded to light the fuse. In an instant, the fuse burned
down to the stem, causing the Bomb to detonate. In addition to reducing all Mr. Coyote's
careful preparations to naught, the premature detonation of Defendant's product resulted
in the following disfigurements to Mr. Coyote:
1. Severe singeing of the hair on the head, neck, and muzzle.
2. Sooty discoloration.
3. Fracture of the left ear at the stem, causing the ear to dangle in the aftershock with
a creaking noise.
4. Full or partial combustion of whiskers, producing kinking, frazzling, and ashy
5. Radical widening of the eyes, due to brow and lid charring.
We come now to the Acme Spring-Powered Shoes. The remains of a pair of these purchased
by Mr. Coyote on June 23rd, 1990 are Plaintiff's Exhibit D. Selected fragments have been
shipped to the metallurgical laboratories of the University of California at Santa Barbara
for analysis, but to date, no explanation has been found for this product's sudden and
extreme malfunction. As advertised by Defendant, this product is simplicity itself: two
wood-and-metal sandals, each attached to milled-steel springs of high tensile strength and
compressed in a tightly coiled position by a cocking device with a lanyard release. Mr.
Coyote believed that this product would enable him to pounce upon his prey in the initial
moments of the chase, when swift reflexes are at a premium.
To increase the shoes' thrusting power still further, Mr. Coyote affixed them by their
bottoms to the side of a large boulder. Adjacent to the boulder was a path which Mr.
Coyote's prey was known to frequent. Mr. Coyote put his hind feet in the wood-and-metal
sandals and crouched in readiness, his right forepaw holding firmly to the lanyard
release. Within a short time Mr. Coyote's prey did indeed appear on the path coming toward
him. Unsuspecting, the prey stopped near Mr. Coyote, well within range of the springs at
full extension. Mr. Coyote gauged the distance with care and proceeded to pull the lanyard
At this point, Defendant's product should have thrust Mr. Coyote forward and away from
the boulder. Instead, for reasons yet unknown, the Acme Spring- Powered Shoes thrust the
boulder away from Mr. Coyote. As the intended prey looked on unharmed, Mr. Coyote hung
suspended in air. Then the twin springs recoiled, bringing Mr. Coyote to a violent
feet-first collision with the boulder, the full weight of his head and forequarters
falling upon his lower extremities.
The force of this impact then caused the springs to rebound, whereupon Mr. Coyote was
thrust skyward. A second recoil and collision followed. The boulder, meanwhile, which was
roughly ovoid in shape, had begun to bounce down a hillside, the coiling and recoiling of
the springs adding to its velocity. At each bounce, Mr. Coyote came into contact with the
boulder, or the boulder came into contact with Mr. Coyote, or both came into contact with
the ground. As the grade was a long one, this process continued for some time.
The sequence of collisions resulted in systemic physical damage to Mr. Coyote, viz.,
flattening of the cranium, sideways displacement of the tongue, reduction of length of
legs and upper body, and compression of vertebrae from base of tail to head. Repetition of
blows along a vertical axis produced a series of regular horizontal folds in Mr. Coyote's
body tissues -- a rare and painful condition which caused Mr. Coyote to expand upward and
contract downward alternately as he walked, and to emit an off-key, accordion like
wheezing with every step. The distracting and embarrassing nature of this symptom has been
a major impediment to Mr. Coyote's pursuit of a normal social life.
As the court is no doubt aware, Defendant has a virtual monopoly of manufacture and
sale of goods required by Mr. Coyote's work. It is our contention that Defendant has used
its market advantage to the detriment of the consumer of such specialized products as
itching powder, giant kites, Burmese tiger traps, anvils, and two-hundred-foot-long rubber
bands. Much as he has come to mistrust Defendant's products, Mr. Coyote has no other
domestic source of supply to which to turn. One can only wonder what our trading partners
in Western Europe and Japan would make of such a situation, where a giant company is
allowed to victimize the consumer in the most reckless and wrongful manner over and over
Mr. Coyote respectfully requests that the Court regard these larger economic
implications and assess punitive damages in the amount of seventeen million dollars. In
addition, Mr. Coyote seeks actual damages (missed meals, medical expenses, days lost from
professional occupation) of one million dollars; general damages (mental suffering, injury
to reputation) of twenty million dollars; and attorney's fees of seven hundred and fifty
thousand dollars. By awarding Mr. Coyote the full amount, this Court will censure
Defendant, its directors, officers, shareholders, successors, and assigns, in the only
language they understand, and reaffirm the right of the individual predator to equal
protection under the law.
OPENING STATEMENT OF ARTHUR B. FUDDLE, ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT, ACME PRODUCTS
Ladies and Gentleman of the jury: the opening statement you have just heard from Mr.
Schoffer on behalf of the plaintiff, Wile E. Coyote, paints an incomplete picture of what
occurred on the occasions when Mr. Coyote claims he was injured by ACME products.
The evidence will clearly show that my client, ACME Products Corp., a Division of
Dangerously Innovative Products and Patents Incorporated (or "DIPPI"), is not at
fault in this matter, and that any injuries sustained by the plaintiff were clearly caused
by his own negligence, assumption of the risk and/or misuse of the products.
Now, we have all seen the footage on television of the plaintiff withstanding various
injuries which appear to be caused by ACME's products. You have seen over and over the
tape of a hapless coyote being bludgeoned by a boulder as he is helplessly trapped by his
ACME Spring Loaded Shoes. We have all seen the photographs taken at Warner Memorial
Hospital of Mr. Coyote in a very small incubator, on life support, as his doctors attempt
to straighten out the accordion-like folds from his body. We have all seen the gruesome
images of the operation in which Dr. Tazmanian D. Devil whirls like a dervish, obscuring
his features and creating a starry, "dust cloud" effect, while numerous limbs
holding various surgical instruments swiftly repair the nerve damage to Mr. Coyote's
It is normal for any human being to feel pity, horror, and even anger at such images. I
want you to put those images aside for the moment, because they paint an incomplete
picture. What the media has not disclosed to you, and what you will see in this courtroom,
are various attempts at murder committed by the plaintiff - attempts which, fortunately,
failed - while using my client's products. As the plaintiff readily admits, he is a
predator, and his sole function in life is to track down and kill an innocent, highway
You see, ladies and gentleman, while the plaintiff is a natural predator, he is not a
very good one. His own skills were inadequate to complete the task at hand, so he chose to
seek the aid of various devices to effectuate his diabolical schemes. He looked in a
catalogue, saw my client's products, and ordered them in the hope that they would assist
him in killing his prey.
But ladies and gentleman, ACME's products are not meant to cause intentional harm to
anyone. The plaintiff has taken what were designed as amusements, toys for the young and
feebleminded, and has twisted their use to his own purposes.
But I digress. Let us examine the plaintiff's claims and how the evidence clearly
refutes the proposition that ACME is responsible for any harm sustained by the plaintiff.
Mr. Coyote states that on December 13, 1989 he received an ACME Rocket Sled, that he
attempted to use said rocket sled to pursue his prey, and that, upon igniting the sled, it
accelerated with "sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote's forelimbs
to a length of fifty feet."
There are several reasons why ACME cannot be held responsible for any injuries caused
by this incident. First, the warning label attached conspicuously to the inside of the
left front tire of the sled clearly stated, and I quote:
"WARNING: IGNITION OF THIS DEVICE AT FULL THROTTLE MAY CAUSE SUDDEN AND
PRECIPITATE FORCE AS TO STRETCH USER'S FORELIMBS TO A LENGTH OF UP TO SIXTY FEET, OR MAY
That the plaintiff suffered so little as a result of his carelessness can be attributed
only to Providence.
Second, Arizona law is clear on this point: a plaintiff who is found to be violating
any law whose purpose is safety at the time of his injury is contributorily negligent *per
se*. There is ample evidence that Mr. Coyote was violating both the laws of gravity and
inertia at the time of this incident, and thus he is responsible for his own woes.
I could list many more examples of Mr. Coyote's negligent conduct in connection with
his use of ACME's products, but you will hear all about them as the trial goes on. You
will also hear the following evidence:
(1) You will hear the plaintiff himself testify that, prior to the injuries complained
of in this accident, he has suffered numerous injuries. As an example, on one occasion
prior to the use of any ACME product, the plaintiff cornered his prey on the edge of a
rather thin precipice. Taking an ordinary saw, the plaintiff began cutting away so that
the edge of the cliff, with his prey on it, would drop some 1500 feet to a jagged, rocky
destruction. Instead, by some inexplicable twist of fate the edge of the cliff remained
standing while the whole mountain, on which the plaintiff was standing, plummeted to the
bottom of the ravine, causing numerous injuries which affect plaintiff to this day.
On another occasion, Mr. Coyote was chasing his prey and followed it off of the edge of
a cliff into thin air, not realizing until too late that his prey, a bird, could remain in
the air almost indefinitely while he, a canine, could not. As a result, he fell yet again,
suffering even further severe and debilitating injuries which predate the injuries
complained of in this action.
(2) You will also hear the testimony of Mr. Road Runner, the plaintiff's prey and the
true victim in this tragedy. Mr. Runner has been forced to live a nomadic lifestyle as a
result of Mr. Coyote's unwanted attention, preventing him from forming any type of long
term relationship. Numerous restraining orders had no effect. Mr. Runner has also suffered
numerous psychological problems as a result of Mr. Coyote's actions, including but not
limited to an inability to trust anyone who provides him with bird seed, a necessary
ingredient in his daily nutritional schedule.
(3) You will also hear from a witness to many of the incidents alleged in plaintiff's
complaint, a colorful local prospector with red hair and mustache who has been known to
proclaim: "No rootin' tootin' coyote can outsmart Yosemite Sam on any day of the
week!" Don't be fooled by his gruff manner and twin pearl-handled six-shooters - he's
(4) Customer service records of defendant ACME, which we were forced to produce in this
matter, clearly show that none of the complaints registered by ACME's customers
nation-wide have ever resulted in criminal convictions of the officers of the corporation.
(5) Finally, videotape evidence will demonstrate that plaintiff faked many of his
injuries, setting out to create performances especially for a jury such as yourself. On
numerous occasions he would "mug" for the camera, as if he was well aware
beforehand that he was being taped. For instance, during the "Rocket Sled"
incident, as his forelimbs were stretched out ahead of him and his body remained behind,
he looked straight into the camera with a forlorn, tired expression, as if to say:
"Look at how terrible my situation is, can you guess what's going to happen to me
now?" This jury is too smart to fall for such petty theatrics.
In summary, ladies and gentlemen, it will be clear to you from the evidence that ACME's
products, if used properly, will cause only minimal injuries to a user and his loved ones.
The plaintiff in this case has brought his troubles upon himself by adopting his
carnivorous lifestyle. As others have so adequately uttered: "Live by the Super Slick
Jet Propulsion Automated Explosive Metal-Shearing Heat-Seeking Laser-Guided Razor-Edged
Boomerang, die by the Super Slick, etc."
I ask you, on behalf of my client, an American-owned company, to dismiss the
plaintiff's claims against it.
related pages on LegalNews.Net
Last updated: 8-12-2005