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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Proper Labeling

Labeling is important.

This is true in marketing and it's true when it comes to potential litigation. For example, it's probably not a good idea to label a computer file "Brian's Ass" if you want to claim the embarrassing video in the file is supposed to be educational.

This may seem intuitively obvious, but apparently it didn't occur to certain law enforcement officials in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania four years ago who claimed - naturally, after they were sued - that the video and photos in the file were for "training" purposes even though none of it was used for training.

Check out a ruling from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit called Doe v. Luzerne County for the entertaining details. This is recommended reading not only for its lesson on the value of proper computer file description but also because it's hilarious.

I won't spoil all of it for you, but here's a quick summary: Two deputies get dispatched to serve a warrant and end up covered in fleas. A couple of helpful supervisors show up and film them while they're being treated - partially naked, of course - at the hospital. One of the supervisors then calls officers into his office to view the footage. If there's any training involved, the lesson is don't get covered in fleas and end up being filmed for the amusement of your coworkers.

Years of litigation and a federal court appeal ensued.

I just want to point out that there are a couple of other interesting labeling issues here.

This is from a footnote: "Doe also asserts that Foy's filming of the tattoo of someone's initials on her back led to the discovery of the private and intimate fact that she is in a lesbianic relationship. We note that initials of a person generally are not indicative of a person's gender."

And if only the plaintiff's lawyer hadn't brought it up, perhaps no one would have known.

There's also the interesting choice of calling the plaintiff "Jane Doe" when her job, the names of her partner and her supervisors, and the time and place of the incident are all spelled out.

I guess a little privacy is better than none.

POLITICAL LABEL. While we're on the topic of labels, I want to vent about Occupy Wall Street.

It's a terrible name.

I may not like the Tea Party, but it's got a cool name. You know right away that it's a political movement and it's edgy. Either that or some old ladies want to serve beverages.

But Occupy Wall Street? What does that mean? Keep Wall Street entertained? Prevent vacancies on Wall Street? Distract brokers while we steal their staplers?

Even the initials are lame - OWS. It sounds like someone is in pain.

I recommend Annoy Wall Street.

Or maybe the Ninety-Nine Percent Solution.

RESTRAINT. The requests for restraining orders keep pouring in and so do the interesting answers to the form question, "how do you know the person?"

Here are some recent ones (with initials substituted for names):

"RW lives in the same house as me called New Beginnings Christian Discipleship."

Someone may want to consider a new religion.

"SW was introduced to me by former clients of mine while I was a talent agent at ICM. He falsely represented himself as an of counsel attorney at Dewey & LeBouef (sic) with the ability to obtain financing thru (sic) his management of an entertainment fund with Goldman Sachs."

And now we know why they're former clients.

"She was our friend."

That one made me cry.

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