JDSupra’s Fun Tuesday with LOTR
First Published in October 2008 edition of The Docket, the Georgia State University College of Law Student Newspaper:
By: Robert Bexley
Frodo Baggins v. Sauron, (Mrdr. App. Ct. 2008).
The case at bar is one between the estate of Mr. Sauron, Plaintiff and Mr. Frodo Baggins, Defendant. Plaintiff brought suit alleging that Defendant had intentionally destroyed a valuable family heirloom of the decedent. The trial court denied demurrer for Defendant, and the jury awarded Plaintiff $200,000 in nominal and punitive damages. Defendant appealed, stating trial court error in denying demurrer.
The facts go back 650 years. Mr. Smeagol Gollum, a hermit and schizophrenic, misplaced his gold ring. While spelunking in a cave, Bilbo Baggins, Appellant/Defendant’s uncle, found the ring.
Upon returning home, Mr. Baggins kept the ring safe and on his nephew’s eleventy-first birthday, conveyed the ring to him. Appellant, Frodo Baggins, learned that the ring in fact belonged to Mr. Sauron of Golgoroth and instead of returning the ring, Appellant was told by his counsel, Mr. Gandalf Mithrandir, Esq., to destroy it in Mount Doom. The facts of the trial court are unclear as to why this course of action was necessary.
Appellant snuck into Mordor and ascended Mount Doom. Upon reaching the summit, however, Mr. Gollum approached Appellant insisting upon the return of the ring. Appellant refused and hit Mr. Gollum on the head. Immediately before throwing the ring into the fiery depths of Mount Doom, Appellant had a change of heart and put on the ring so he could safely return it to Mr. Sauron. Mr. Gollum awoke furious and bit off the finger of Appellant on which the ring was placed. Appellant then pushed Mr. Gollum over a cliff into molten lava, destroying the ring, Mr. Gollum, and oddly enough, Mr. Sauron.
Despite the horrors of Appellant’s actions, the case at bar is only concerned with the destruction of Plaintiff/Respondent’s property.
There is a doctrine in Torts that justifies the actions of a person, when acting in good faith; he may destroy another’s property in the best interest of the community as long as the necessity is clearly shown. In Surroco v. Geary, it was necessary to raze a house in order to save adjoining homes and thus the city from an oncoming blaze. The court found the defendant not liable for destroying the plaintiff’s home because he was acting in the public interest, even by good faith mistake.
Mr. Baggins was under the impression that he was protecting the public interest by destroying the so-called “One Ring to Rule Them All.” We hold that pushing an ancient malnourished lunatic into magma to destroy a ring is conduct reasonably necessary to protect all of humanity. As such, we find that the trial court erred by denying Appellant’s demurrer. We reverse the trial court’s ruling and hold Appellant not liable for damages to Respondent’s property.
(omitted, Saruman, J., dissenting.)