07 July 2006

Air Frivolous

This is probably the most frivolous claim I can recall in recent memory:
A Northeast Portland man is suing basketball superstar Michael Jordan and Nike founder Phil Knight for a combined $832 million. Allen Heckard filed the suit himself, June 29th in Washington County Court. Heckard says he’s been mistaken as Michael Jordan nearly every day over the past 15 years and he’s tired of it.

"I'm constantly being accused of looking like Michael and it makes it very uncomfortable for me,” said Heckard.

Heckard is suing Jordan for defamation and permanent injury and emotional pain and suffering. He’s suing Knight for defamation and permanent injury for promoting Jordan and making him one of the most recognized men in the world.

. . . .

"Even when I go to the gym I'm being accused of playing ball like him (Jordan), said Heckard." [sic]

Most people would consider that a high compliment.

"Yes...don’t get me wrong it’s definitely a positive thing, because Michael, like I say is one of the best ball players that I've known to play the game. But then again, that's Michael and I'm me. So I want to be recognized as me just like Michael's being recognized as Michael."

. . . .

"I figure if I'm out in public and around a lot of people at least three or four times out of a crowd ...and like I was at the Blues Festival and you could see people they was pointing at me," he said.

Some might wonder how he decided to sue Knight and Jordan for $416-million each. "Well, you figure with my age and you multiply that times seven and ah, then I turn around and ah I figure that's what it all boils down to."

Rules 17(c)(3) and 17(d) of the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure respectively prohibit and establish sanctions for filing frivolous claims. Unfortunately, Rule 17(c)(3), unlike the other provisions of Rule 17(c), applies only to attorneys, rather than to both attorneys and parties; thus, no matter how craptacular his legal claims may be, Heckard is not sanctionable (he filed without an attorney's assistance). Notwithstanding, I'm hopeful that the existence of Rule 17 was not the only thing which caused my fellow Oregon attorneys to avoid involving themselves in Heckard's effort.

Perhaps Michael Jordan will countersue. After all, when people point at him now, they might be recognizing one of the greatest athletes in history or they might just be mistaking him for Allen Heckard. If I were Jordan, I'd put on my Air Heckards and head down to the courthouse post-haste.

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