Inns of Court – Superhero Justice


David Pearson, Dawn Ceizler, Hon. Christopher Bowen, Marie Quashnock and Philip Simpkins

And they say that the law is an uncreative field. At the September 11, 2013, Inns of Court meeting, Judge Christopher Bowen and his pupilage group (starring Angela Habibi, Philip Simpkins, Dawn Ceizler, Konstantine Demiris, Bonnie Johnson, David Pearson, Tod Ratfield and Marie Quashnock) showed that one can bring an original approach to the law.

They staged a series of vignettes based on the characters from “The Avengers.” Judge Bowen was Iron Man, Marie Quashnock was Thor, David Pearson was Captain America, Dawn Ceizler was Black Widow and Phil Simpkins was the Incredible Hulk.

First, we started with an eight-minute clip of “The Avengers” movie. Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen “The Avengers” yet, stop reading this article and return to the president’s message by Jay Chafetz instead. I doubt it will reveal any plot points about the movie.

OK, last chance and … in the clip, a giant fight between the forces of good and evil destroy New York City (made LA for the purpose of this presentation, since none of us know New York law). Now, the forces of good are being sued for all of the damages associated with the destruction.

The first issue related to conflicts of interest. Dawn Ceizler, as Black Widow, was both a defendant and the attorney offering to represent all parties. You don’t have to study for the MPRE to realize there is a problem here. Kosta Demiris spurred the Inns group in a discussion of what needs to be done to avoid problems with conflicts of interest, including obtaining written consent after proper disclosure.

The next issue was that of service of process. How can one serve Thor, a god? Can one personally serve a nonhuman? And where does he reside? Can you do a nail and mail to Valhalla? Bonnie Johnson provided info on service and how one might serve a living god.

Another issue that was discussed was whether the Incredible Hulk had the capacity to commit the crimes in question. When Bruce Banner explodes into the Hulk, does he go insane? Does he lack the capacity to understand what he is doing, acting solely on hatred and rage? The Inns group discussed the varying standards for capacity and whether the Hulk’s “unique” mental state would apply under them.

The next defense related to Captain America. Does he have immunity as a member of the armed forces? There are limited powers for the federal government to enforce state laws (i.e., police action). However, here, the U.S. president did not order Captain America to take any action, likely defeating a government immunity defense for Captain America.

But what about the superheroes acting as Good Samaritans? That may be exactly what our fair heroes need to escape the long arm of the law. It turns out you can get a Good Samaritan defense if you are acting in good faith and not for money. Score!

But wait! What if somebody brings an action against Iron Man for his (SPOILER ALERT!) building malfunctioning and bringing in the portal that let the aliens here to destroy Earth? Not 100 percent certain if the science of that is accurate, but it is what happens in the movie.

The Inns group discussed potential liability for Iron Man, including the effects of Prop 51, which passed in 1986, and limited joint and several liability for defendants. It was intended to organize liability in better proportion to people’s actual fault instead of requiring one defendant to pay the entire amount of damages, even if they were merely 1 percent at fault.

It was an extremely creative approach to teaching a variety of different subjects. The next event will be held on November 14, 2013. If you are interested in adding your name to the wait list for RGMAIOC membership, please contact Scott Reep at

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