A man with white hair, glasses and a purple shirt that reads “Third Planet” braces for impact.
Projectiles launched at full speed – ammunition of fire extinguishers and red forks, spoons and butter knives.
It sounds like the plot of a comic book – and it is. With a cause number at the top and the name of a company: Feldman & Feldman.
It’s a trial turned into a comic book.
See the comic p. 6
Houston plaintiffs attorney Cris Feldman, who represents the Third Planet Sci-Fi and Fantasy Superstore comic book store in litigation against a nearby hotel whose customers allegedly threw projectiles that damaged the store, said that this could be the first lawsuit in the country that has been filed in court in graphic form.
âAs far as we can judge, this is the first time this has been done,â Feldman said. âThis is serious advocacy, and we didn’t want to run into ethical issues, so we looked far and wide for any precedent in an approach like this with pleading. There was no precedent. There was also nothing to suggest that it couldn’t be done. In this situation, we concluded it was appropriate.
The case, Criss-A-Less vs. ASDN Houston, didn’t start out as a comic book.
In late February, Feldman first filed a traditional petition with black words on white paper for comic book store and owner TJ Johnson. They sued ASDN Houston, Pacifica Companies, Crowne Plaza (Houston) River Oaks Hotel.
Hotel guests threw lighted cigarette butts that set off fires in vehicles, glasses, mugs, fire extinguishers and silverware, the plaintiffs alleged. The projectiles damaged the roof, then the rain damaged the store, according to the petition.
Johnson, the owner, complained to the hotel but did nothing to stop his guests’ driving, the lawsuit said.
ASDN Houston has denied all allegations. ASDN and Pacifica have claimed that they are not responsible for, among other things, the conduct of third-party hotel guests. They added criminal actors unknown to John Doe to the case as responsible third parties.
It was the additional legal arguments from Pacifica Companies that prompted Feldman to amend the petition to throw the book (comic) to them.
In the May 3 Special Exceptions, Pacifica asked the 151st Harris County District Court to order the plaintiffs to remove the “irrelevant” paragraphs from the lawsuit that spoke of the history of Third Planet, its status in the lawsuit. Houston community, products it sells, owner information. , and more.
The court granted only one request in the special exceptions, which was to order plaintiffs to add dates of prejudice to their pleadings. Judge Mike Engelhart dismissed the rest of Pacifica’s special exceptions.
The defendants’ arguments offended Feldman, he said.
âThey obviously didn’t want us to talk about our client,â Feldman explained. âWe did not come out armed with a comic strip or an illustrated plea. Once it was clear that the defendant did not understand what was going on, we felt it was appropriate to present it in graphic form. Maybe now they will have it.
Defense attorney Mike Prather, partner of Donato Brown Pool & Moehlmann in Houston, did not immediately respond to a call or email seeking comment.
Feldman said it was easy to find the comic book illustrators for the play. All he had to do was go to his client’s long-time clients for the project. Third Planet and its owner have given permission for the business.
âI speak the same language, which is a graphic illustration, of certain events that require more attention,â Feldman said. âAt the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with thinking outside the box and being creative in pleading. While this is the first of its kind, it doesn’t have to be the last. Now that the door is open, there may be further efforts to illustrate the prosecution narrative, if applicable. “
How will Judge Engelhart take it?
Based on the response from Texas attorneys on social media, the trial-as-a-comic format may well be of interest to litigators.
âTalk about speaking your client’s language,â Lawson Fite wrote on Twitter.
Mary Ellen Mastman added, “Intended to be a classic.”
On Facebook, Russ DePalma wrote: âThis is absolutely insane. But awesome.
Ronnie Yeates wrote on Facebook: âYou’re too dumb for wordsâ¦ let’s try the pictures. Awesome.”
Another Facebook comment from Jason Sweny said: “I think we need to change the pleading requirements.”
Jeff Kane added, “I’ll be fascinated to see how Judge Engelhart takes this.”