Obiter Dicta

Fall of the Wild


When Amy Walters entered the biology lab at Pennsylvania State University in February 2005, she expected to view a series of specimens through microscopes. What she didn’t expect was to be blindsided by a very different type of specimen.

According to a complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Fayette County in January, Walters, who is an undergraduate, was peering into a microscope when she was “struck on the head by a large, heavy object.”

That object turned out to be a moose head that had been fastened to the wall. The complaint states that the moose head struck Walters near the right temple–causing her to fall backward into a chair–and then fell into her lap.

Sean Duff, one of two Pittsburgh attorneys representing Walters, says she briefly lost consciousness as a result of the incident, and she experienced nausea and head pain. He says Walters continues to suffer headaches of increased frequency and severity. “It is a bizarre mechanism of injury,” Duff says. “If they’re going to have these heads on the wall, they should have them affixed properly.”

Duff calls it a case of premises liability and says Walters is seeking unspecified damages. Annemarie Mountz, assistant director of public information, says the university does not comment on pending litigation.

Bowled Over Man Moves to Modify Moniker After Miscues by ‘Monsters of the Midway’

Chicago football fans have long been known for their rabid fervor. Witness the popular Saturday Night Live “Superfans” skit (“Da Bears!”).

But the Superfans have nothing on a Forsyth, Ill., man who was so sure his team would emerge victorious that he bet his very identity on it.

Scott Wiese, 26, who works at a Staples office supply store, told some of his buddies in late January that if the Indianapolis Colts won Super Bowl XLI he would legally change his name to that of the quarterback for the Colts, Peyton Manning.

They took him up on it and had a legal document drawn up that Wiese signed two days before the game in front of a multitude of witnesses at a crowded bar in nearby Decatur. Then the unthinkable happened (for Wiese, anyway). The Colts won and all eyes were on him.

Wiese honored his commitment and a couple days later found himself at the Macon County court facility initiating the name-change process, which includes filing a petition and advertising his intention three times in a local newspaper.

Wiese was scheduled to appear in court in late March, as of deadline, for a hearing on whether his petition will be approved or denied. If it is approved, he says he might keep his new name for a year, or two at most.

Commenting on the media circus his bet attracted, Wiese says simply, “It’s nuts, the whole thing.”

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