You may recall, as Blawgletter fondly does, a Simpsons episode featuring a monorail that an itinerant huckster — Lyle Lanley — convinced the good people of Springfield to buy for $3 million. The money came from a fine the town assessed against power plant owner C. Montgomery Burns for dumping nuclear waste.
The decision to invest in public transportation ended — as it so often does — in near-tragedy. The train careened out of control on its inaugural run, almost ending the comic career of Homer Simpson, who stopped it just in time.
The memory of Marge v. The Monorail came back to us this afternoon as we read the Ninth Circuit's short and sweet opinion in what we may call Seattle v. The Monorail Advisor Whose Allegedly Bad Advice Caused The Seattle Monorail to Catch Fire in 2004. The panel cited the answer by the Supreme Court of Washington to the panel's question on tort liability — something about Party A (the monorail operator), Party B (the monorail owner), and Party C (the advisor) and whether Party A could sue Party C for negligence despite having no contract with Party C. The Washington court said yes, and the Ninth Circuit said fine in Affiliated FM Ins. Co. v. LTK Consulting Services, Inc., No. 07-35696 (9th Cir. Dec. 7, 2010). The case returns to the district court to see whether the consultant/advisor breached its tort duty and, if so, how many millions does it owe Party A.
Conan O'Brien, btw, wrote the script. For the Simpsons show. Not Affiliated FM Ins. Co.