Monday, March 12, 2012

The French fry argument

Bobby Fuller
An ex-Marine named Bobby Fuller ventured into Cuba in 1960 after his family's land was confiscated.
Rebels captured him, charged him with counter-revolutionary activities, placed him before a firing squad and killed him, court records show.
Years later, his sister, Jeanette Fuller Hausler, sued the Cuban government to try to obtain Cuban assets to compensate for her loss.
I was digging through federal court records and came across a 2010 document related to her case. I am not going to get into the complicated legal cases here, but want to share a quick anecdote (from p. 12 of document):
An AT&T lawyer, Albert L. Frevola, was explaining why he didn't think Hausler should be able to garnish AT&T payments to Cuba for long-distance phone service between the U.S. and Cuba. He said:
And here, what they're doing, it's really no different than if I went to the first window at McDonald's to buy french fries. And between going to the first window and second window where I'm paying the money, somebody who has a judgment against the Idaho potato manufacturer wants to grab my money and say, I'm entitled to 50 cents of that, because that's how much money McDonald's owes to the Idaho potato manufacturer. 
Well, I don't have a relationship with the Idaho potato manufacturer. I have a relationship with McDonald's. And you can't garnish my money. You might be able to garnish McDonald's money, but not my money. And so that's what they're trying to do. And they haven't cited a single case to say that they can do that, because they can't.
That's not what the law allows.

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