Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Flopper

Today in law school I learned… about the assumption of risk.

These days most fairgrounds only feature rides that spin in a circle, and their names all correspond with that motion: The Twister! The Spinarama! The Wheelie! The Whirl-A-Hurl!

But in 1929 at Steeplechase Amusement Co. in Coney Island, there was a fun little ramp/conveyor belt ride called "The Flopper." Fun for most, anyway. Poor Mr. Murphy didn't have such a good time. Described by the court as a "vigorous man," Murphy set prudence aside in favor of chasing tail and followed his lady friend onto the ride. The bad news is he ended up with a busted knee. The good news is that this lady ended up marrying him. Worth it?
As to the injuries, the court basically said too bad, sucker. You should of known better. "The very name above the gate, The Flopper, was warning to the timid." And thus, the (almost) famous adage was born: "if you wanna flop, be prepared for the drop."

But the reason I wanted to blog about this case was the following quote from Justice Cardozo. It's got it all: balls, thrusting, clergy, etc.:

 "One who takes part in such a sport accepts the dangers that inhere in it so far as they are obvious and necessary, just as a fencer accepts the risk of a thrust by his antagonist or a spectator at a ball game the chance of contact with the ball. The antics of the clown are not the paces of the cloistered cleric. The rough and boisterous joke, the horseplay of the crowd, evokes its own guffaws, but they are not the pleasures of tranquility."


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