Vol. 6, Issue 4, April 15, 2008
Old Man Sues the Sea
An elderly fisherman has filed a lawsuit in the Florida Superior Court against the sea, alleging "loss of livelihood, emotional distress, and loss of (marl)income."
"My client, Mr. Santiago, has had a deteriorating relationship with the sea for some time," said Ernest Hasselback, from the noted law firm Heming, Pulitz, and Noble. "We will demonstrate that, for over eighty days, the sea failed to live up to its contractual obligation to provide piscine goods to my client, resulting not only in material loss, but also loss of prestige and social standing in his professional community. Further, when Mr. Santiago did manage to procure an installment on the overdue catch, the sea did willfully and with malice repossess said catch. With sharks no less."
The sea has vigorously denied Mr. Santiago's claims and stressed that their relationship was strictly on an ad-hoc 'will-hire' basis, with no contractual guarantees of income, piscine or otherwise, and no guarantee of protection from symbolism.
"It is disappointing that Mr. Santiago should choose to bring suit against my client, after a mutually beneficial working relationship that has extended now for several decades," said Maria Saline, lead attorney for the defendant. "Furthermore, while said loss may have occurred in the vicinity of my client, this in no way renders my client responsible. It's analogous to suing the city of New York because you lost money on Wall Street."
Santiago's lawsuit disagrees, citing a "long history of enforced irony and imposed symbolism" on the part of the sea.
"Our firm doesn't file spurious lawsuits," said Hasselback. "That's not the Heming way. In any event, the sea's deliberate role as a spoiler and self-appointed agent of 'fate' has been documented countless times. Mr. Santiago's loss is merely the latest victim in a long string of injustices. The sea pretty much considers itself beyond prosecution - its exoneration in Pequod vs. Atlantic has effectively given it a free rein for years. However, in this case we've got a smoking gun, so to speak."
The 'smoking gun' in question is a member of the repo squad allegedly sent by the sea to confiscate Mr. Santiago's catch, who has provided videotaped testimony, some of which was released to CNN.
"Yeah, it was a contract job," said Alan Mako, smoking a cigarette. "She didn't say specifically, but the sea cuts some folks off from the network primarily for artistic reasons. Seemed to me like Santiago was one of those. His credit account with the ocean suffered a, whatchamacallit, poetic depreciation. Happens all the time."
The sea is challenging the admissibility of the videotape on the grounds that Mako was just seeking to capitalize on the media frenzy surrounding Santiago's case and that Santiago's legal team induced Mako to testify with an "unreasonable quantity of chum". It also contests the jurisdiction of the Florida Superior Court, noting that, regardless of the cause, the incident occurred more than 12 miles offshore, and that Mr. Santiago isn't even an American citizen, being based in Cuba.
"Fortunately, the Supreme Court greatly expanded the jurisdiction of American courts in Halliburton v. Gulf Stream," noted Hasselback. "We anticipate that, once the facts are set before the court, Mr. Santiago will be awarded adequate compensation, and possibly a trip to Africa."
While some consider the pending case to be one of the most significant to come before the court in years, some dismiss the importance of the case as "overhyped".
"Even in the unlikely event that the decision goes against us, we're sure the tide of public opinion will swing back in our favor," said Saline. "In any event, you know the sea's motto: In times of trouble, just smile and wave."