Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wise County Circuit Court opinion from April 1, 1991

Dear Counsel:

This is a case of unique species,
not stare decisis, but stare feces.
The court had serious fun with these complex issues as it spoke,
but this opinion, signed the first, is no April Fool joke.

The court considered the entire record as a whole,
and reviewed counsel arguments as they were told.
This is a feeble attempt at judicial humorous prose.
The findings of fact and conclusions of law disclose:

This case involves a V.E.C. "first impression" appeal
by an employee who said a rude word unreal.
Fired for misconduct connected with his job
by a C.E.O. who judged him an insulting insubordinate slob.

Claimant, Walter Cooper, by name
a 20-year employee of "the Pig", a grocery chain,
missed work due to a workers compensation claim,
and had attempted to organize the labor union game.

His four doctors could not agree
on when his exact return day would be.
So to determine his return to work position
management called Cooper to a 2 1/2 hour "Inquisition".

Cooper arrived at the private meeting with management three:
the C.E.O., personnel mg'r, store mg'r, and he.
Claimant intended to return to work right now,
but the C.E.O. flaunted his power somehow.

The C.E.O. quarreled about Cooper's union organizing smut;
told him to return to work, and "keep his mouth shut";
repeated several demands for claimant to quit -
to all of which Cooper replied, "you're full of shit".

Cooper was fired on the spot,
and V.E.C. benefits he was granted not.
Punish him - wash his mouth out with soap,
but don't hang him with a pink-slpi rope.

It would certainly be a legal mistake,
if one vulgar word would misconduct make.
This expression does not show flagrant disrespect,
nor deliberately defy proper authority I suspect.

Truth is a defense to the tort of slander,
but please forgive me for I meander.
Every dog is entitled to one lawful bite,
so why not allow one naughty word so slight?

If one indelicate word stirs the ire
that's no cause for a hard-working employee to fire.
Union activity is allowed by Federal law,
and is not a legitmate reason to withdraw.

Webster defines "shit" as "foolishness" or "nonsense".
Such an editorial makes good common sense
to describe the C.E.O. as "full of" nonsense,
when he attempts to gag the union at Cooper's expense.

Unions displease some executive bosses,
but not employees who carry their crosses.
V.E.C. and "the Pig" hide behind a dirty phrase
to conceal their prejudice against a union craze.

The V.E.C. conclusion is unsupported by substantial and/or simple evidence
for this reasonable judicial mind accepts a difference.
Here the questions of law are also interpreted by this magistrate,
and the facts do not constitute misconduct, nor insubordinate.

This court finds in favor of the claimant,
and orders the V.E.C. to Cooper make payment.
Counsel for Cooper shall pen a final decree,
and deliver it accordingly for entry to me.


J. Robert Stump
(footnotes omitted)

Judge Stump was affirmed on appeal. See Kennedy's Piggly Wiggly Stores, Inc. v. Cooper, 14 Va. App. 701, 419 S.E.2d 278 (1992).

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