Suing Cats: In Rem Titles of Proceeding

December 18, 2020 Paul Emile Trudelle General Interest Tags: , , 0 Comments

A legal claim “in personam” is against a particular person. My claim against David for $100 for an unpaid debt is an in personam claim. It affects him alone. This is to be contrasted with an “in rem” claim, which is Latin for “against or about a thing”. In estate litigation, when we are proving the validity of a Will, the proceeding is said to be “in rem”, as the determination does not just affect the beneficiaries, but third parties who may be called upon to rely on the determination of validity. A judgment in rem is said to bind “the whole world.”

In a recent article published at 24 Green Bag 2d 15, Florence Ashley discusses in rem case names. The article, “Humorous Styles of Cause in In Rem Actions: A Comparison of Canada and the United States”, lists the author’s selection of the fourteen funniest in rem styles of cause. Read the article for the author’s selection justification.

The list:

  1. South Dakota v. Fifteen Impounded Cats (SD 2010);
  2. Case of One 1985 Nissan 300ZX, VIN: JN1C214SFX069854 (4th Cir 1989);
  3. United States v. One Tyrannosauras Bataar Skeleton (SDNY 2013);
  4. United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls (D Wisc 1976);
  5. United States v. 11 ¼ Dozen Packages of Articles Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo-Fly Powders for Drunkenness (WDNY 1941);
  6. United States v. One Solid Gold Object in Form of a Rooster (D Nev 1960);
  7. United States v. Approximately Thirteen Unoccupied Burial Plots Situated at Forest Lawn Memorial Park’s Hollywood Hills Cemetary [sic] (CD Cal 2017);
  8. United States v. Ninety-Five Barrels (More or Less) Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar (SCOTUS 1924);
  9. United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins (9th Cir 2008);
  10. United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries (2d Cir 1936);
  11. Royal Bank of Canada v. “I Wonder” (The) (Can Fed Ct 1985);
  12. A Quantity of Copies of Books v. Kansas (SCOTUS 1973);
  13. United States v. 2,507 Live Canary-Winged Parakeets (SD Fla 1988); and
  14. 62 Cases of Jam v. United States (SCOTUS 1951).

Note that only one of the cases is Canadian. In the article, the author explores WHY Canadian in rem titles of proceedings are just not as funny.

Thanks for reading.

Paul Trudelle

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