Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution inmate Sirgeorgio Clardy should probably forget his aspirations of becoming a jailhouse lawyer, if his first effort is any indication.
Sirgiorgio, an aptly named pimp, is in stir because, among other things, he brutally stomped the face of a john who was trying to leave a Portland hotel without paying Clardy’s prostitute. Jurors found him guilty of second-degree assault for using his Air Jordans as a dangerous weapon to beat the john’s face to a pulp. Now the 26-year-old pimp turned prisoner turned pro se litigant has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Nike, the maker of the Jordans, claiming the shoe manufacturer shares responsibility for the assault that was among the crimes that drew him a 100-year prison sentence. (The jury also found him guilty of robbing the man he beat and beating the 18-year-old girl he forced to work as his prostitute. This is not, I think it is safe to say, a nice guy.)
Clardy’s creative lawsuit claims Nike breached its duty to place a label on his athletic shoes warning purchasers that they could be used as a dangerous weapon, because, I guess, the evil shoes made him do it. Or, in the alternative, he had no idea that repeatedly slamming his foot down on a man’s head would do any harm. Or something. Basically, he’d just really like a hundred million bucks, and either doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, that he’s making a travesty of the justice system.
I am confident that there is literally no chance such a lawsuit goes to trial; if there is, I am through defending the legal system for good. This is a textbook frivolous lawsuit if brought by a real lawyer, rather than an unrepentant, violent, non-too-swift pimp. The legal ethics rule that makes such monstrosities an official ethical violation, Rule 3.1, says that…
“A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.”
This is one of the Forrest Gump rules that to some extent defines what is ethical by how stupid the lawyer is: a JD dolt who genuinely believes in his crack-brain theory may, under this rule, not be violating it because his idiocy is in “good faith,” while an advocate with two brain cells to rub together has no such defense. Sirgiorgio’s suit, however, may definitively set the boundary that no lawyer could cross, because the suit makes neither legal nor logical sense. For more than a century, courts have found assailants to have used various items as deadly weapons, including fists, rocks, frozen roasts, icicles, power tools and automobiles, but none of those verdicts suggested that anyone but the felon weaponized those items. If the pimp’s premise was ever endorsed by a jury, it would mean that literally every product from pasta to shower curtains would need a warning label, lest some murderous sociopath use it for custom-designed mayhem.
No, this is a frivolous suit if there ever was one. The disturbing thing is that I had to do any research before I was absolutely sure my analysis was correct. The are a lot of Forrest Gump, Esquires out there.
Pointer: The Daily Beast
Facts: The Oregonian