Solon v. Freud

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an interesting opinion in an interesting tort case, Sigmund v. Starwood Urban Retail VI, LLC.  In this case, Donald Sigmund sued seeking tort damages from the owner, managers, and operators of a garage in which a car was parked that exploded due to a car bomb placed by Donald’s half-brother, Prescott, that had been intended for their father.  The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants and Donald appealed.  [Donald also sued his half-brother but later dismissed this claim.]

Perhaps because the D.C. Circuit does not see this sort of case all that often, Judge Garland has some fun with the opinion’s opening.

Solon, the ancient Athenian lawgiver, made no law against patricide because he thought it impossible that anyone could commit so unnatural a crime. Two and a half millennia later, Freud famously claimed the opposite — that every son harbors murderous impulses toward his father. In this case, we side with the lawyer not the psychoanalyst. Donald Sigmund, the accidental victim of a car bomb that his half-brother intended for their father, cannot recover from the third-party defendants he has sued unless his half-brother’s crime was foreseeable. We conclude that neither that crime nor any similar one was foreseeable, and thus affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants.