This isPersonal Injury Court. Good day, everyone.
This is the matter
ofRyman v. Harris.From the court documents, Ms. Ryman,
it’s my understanding that you are suing Ms. Harris for injuries that
you sustained at a party. You’re asking this court
to award you $10,000
in past medical expenses, $15,000 for
future medical expenses, $75,000 for
the cost of the party, and $150,000
for pain and suffering, for a total
is that correct? Yes, Your Honor. And Ms. Harris, your position
based on your court papers is that this
is not your fault. You did what
you were paid to do. This is her fault
for bringing balloons. That is 100% correct,
Your Honor. Okay, folks,
let’s get into the legal sauce. Ms. Ryman, tell me
what led up to this, uh, party. Your Honor, 20 years ago,
my husband and I
got married in a courthouse. -[Judge Brogdon]
-Thank you. Straight out of high school,
we had nothing, and we promised
each other that in 20 years, we would have
the wedding of our dreams. -So this was
gonna be a big deal.
-[Ryman] Yes. It was supposed to be,
and it really was
until the accident. Now what makes
up a dream wedding?
What did you have planned? [Ryman] We had
the most perfect cake,beautiful flowers,
horse and buggy,
just like Cinderella.-[Judge Brogdon]
Horse and buggy?
-Yes.Look at it,
it’s just perfect.Look, I never even got
to ride in that, Your Honor.[Judge Brogdon]
You didn’t ride in
the horse and buggy?[Ryman]No,
I went off in an ambulance.-[Judge Brogdon]Okay.
-[audience exclaiming] So tell me
what else happened that led you
to get to these folks
to plan your wedding. Why’d you pick them? Well, my friend,
who I trusted, referred me to
this person right here, and her reviews
were really good. But she must have done
trailer-park weddings. -[audience exclaiming]
why they were good. [Judge Brogdon] At least
based on the reviews, you thought
you had the right person. Yeah, I thought I did. I can see
this is important to you. Very. I’m so…
I’m– I’m just beyond upset. [Judge Brogdon] Yes, ma’am. So you invited
guests and family. How many folks
were gonna be
at this wedding? Two-hundred people.
I had family and friends
from all over the world fly in. And this dream
anniversary party ends up
turning into a nightmare. It was
an absolute disaster. -[Judge Brogdon]
So, Ms. Harris, uh…
-Yes, Your Honor. Your events don’t usually
turn out like this, right? No, Your Honor,
they don’t. I’ve been in business
for over a decade. I have a stellar reputation. You are the professional. I am the professional
and that’s why
people come to me. That’s why
I have great reviews. That’s why
people are referred to me. You have to book my calendar
at least a year– So you’re really
highly sought after. [Ryman] Yeah,
at what trailer park? So, she’s actually lucky
she got on my calendar. Tell me this, what goes
into party planning?
What do you do? I put a lot of time,
effort and love -into making sure
her day went perfectly.
-Please! Oh, she was–
She argued with me
about everything. -[Ryman] She–
-What kinds of things
were you all fighting about? Do you– Have you ever
heard the term “bridezilla”? [Judge Brogdon]
Uh, yes, ma’am. Isn’t that her job? Bridezilla! She makes
Bridezilla look calm. Well, give me an example.
What made her a bridezilla?
What was she doing? -She rejected every plan I had.
-[Judge Brogdon] Okay. -She didn’t like–
-Orange flowers. -Orange flowers.
-[Harris] Because that’s
the color scheme she wanted! But tell me this, though,
isn’t it “The customer
is always right”? -To a point, yes.
-Okay. I was hired by her
to do a job, which I did. -[Judge Brogdon] Yes, ma’am.
-No, she didn’t. I can’t necessarily continue
to argue with Bridezilla. This wasn’t
your first encounter -with an anxious bride, right?
-[Harris] No. No. But this was
a whole different level. She had to have
a horse and buggy… -Of course, I did. It’s my day.
I’m paying for it.
-[Harris] What is she, 12? But wait a minute,
in terms of these
special arrangements, that’s what
you get paid for. -Right?
-Of course. I do, yeah, but, from the beginning,
her ideas, they were tacky. -[audience exclaiming]
-You’re tacky! So, but… But do you
get to judge that, though? -Well, when you hire me–
-[Judge Brogdon] Isn’t
the customer always right? Well, Your Honor,
when you hire me
for my professional opinion, -and I give it to you–
-They’re supposed to take it? They’re supposed to listen.
I mean tacky is tacky. -[Ryman]
Professional opinion, please!
-You can’t buy class. [Judge Brogdon]
Ms. Ryman, until this case, I’d never heard
about wedding balloons. Tell me
what happened to you. So, Your Honor,
my husband and I,
we were doing the first dance. All eyes were on us.
It was the most
beautiful moment. And thinking back
on the years… -Everything,
and it was wonderful.
-Yes, ma’am. All of a sudden, I feel this
sharp pain on my head. And I’m on the floor… -Just out of the blue?
-Out of the blue. -[sobbing]
-Take your time,
take your time. I know
it’s important to you. I look down and my dress
is full of blood, there is blood
all over my face, just dripping, I don’t even
know where it’s coming from. Now, Ms. Harris,
you remember this incident? -Yes.
-[Judge Brogdon] Not
regarding who caused what, but you remember
blood on the dress,
this messy scene? Your Honor, it was
absolutely horrific. -And I–
you were frightened too. -[Harris] I was, and…
And I went to her aid.
-Please. -I helped her. Immediately.
-[Judge Brogdon] Immediately? I look up and I see my kids,
and they’re just
looking at me in terror. Your kids saw this? My kids–
My kids are so traumatized… And I look over,
and it’s a disco ball
on the floor! So… So, you’re lying there,
you’re covered with blood, your kids are watching.
What’s going through your head? I’m just thinking
I’m gonna die
in front of my kids. So, then what happened? I was just so scared
and uh, somebody called 911
and an ambulance came. I called 911, Your Honor. [sarcastically]
Yeah, thanks a lot! [Judge Brogdon]
That’s the right thing to do. I see this disco ball
that you got over here, uh, obviously, the one
that hit you came apart.
It crashed, right? Yes, Your Honor. This is about
the size of that disco ball? -[Ryman] Yes.
-[Harris] Yes, Your Honor. Okay, how heavy is that thing? -That disco ball.
-It’s around 15 pounds. Okay, and that’s what
fell on your head? Yeah. This whole thing boils down to her not listening
to my professional advice. -This is her responsibility.
-[Judge Brogdon] What was
your professional advice? She came to me
and I told her no. “No balloons,
we’re not doing–” Why can I not have balloons
at my own wedding, Your Honor? Because it was
going to look like a circus. With my name on this, I didn’t want a tacky… -Tacky is your name.
-…event to be attached to me. Balloons are for kids. What did you tell her
to let her know
it’s not a good idea? Well, I submitted
a design to her,
beautifully done. -It was hideous.
-[Judge Brogdon] I think
that’s in your court papers. -[Harris] Yes, sir, it is.
This is the design. Uh, tell me about this.
How– What… Why should
this mean something today? [Harris]That’s correct,
because you’ll notice thatthe disco ball is
in the middle of the floor.And then
we have the tables.So, you will notice
there are no balloons
whatsoever in my diagram. So the balloons were tacky, but the disco ball
wasn’t tacky? -Right. Exactly.
-Well, you know, Your Honor, you have to pick
and choose your battles. I’m choosing ’70s flavor
over a kid’s birthday party. Now, Ms. Ryman,
happened to your face? All I see is
a bandage on your neck. -[Ryman] Look, Your Honor,
I have a scar.
-[Judge Brogdon] Okay. [Ryman]And I’m gonna
have to have
plastic surgery to fix that.So that’s why you’re asking
this court for $15,000
for future medical expenses. Yes, Your Honor. And your past
medical expenses of 10,000 are for the treatment
you’ve already had. -Yes.
-[Judge Brogdon] Okay. I also see in your papers that
you sustained a concussion. What was that like? I was nauseous,
I was throwing up. I have constant migraines.
I can barely move my neck. It reminds me
of my old football days. I never ran into
a disco ball, but I had plenty concussions,
so I understand this. I can’t even be
a part of my kids’ lives now. Yeah, this’ll hurt
the mommy time. So, Ms. Ryman, you talked about
the blood going down
your face onto your dress. [sobbing] Your Honor,
this was… [Judge Brogdon]
You brought the dress? This was my dress. Okay, that’s a beautiful dress -despite the stains.
-This was my grandmother’s. This was
my grandmother’s dress and it was my wish
to give it to my daughter, and now it’s ruined,
it’s destroyed. She’s lucky she doesn’t
have to wear that now. -Shut up!
-[audience exclaiming] She should thank you. So, why are you
not responsible for this? This happened on your watch, with your planning,
at your event,
and you’re the professional. Tell me why
this is not your fault. Well, the reason
it’s not my fault is because the balloons
are what caused this accident. She wanted the balloons
around the disco ball. Horrible idea. You actually submitted
to the court an exhibit regarding the disco ball. Could you go over there
and explain to me how
you believe this happened? Yes, Your Honor. So, Your Honor,
you’ll see the disco ball, and you see the balloons
with the streamers hanging
from the balloons. -[Judge Brogdon] Okay.
-What happened with that is the tacky balloons here
and their streamers, the streamers got caught
in the chain of the disco ball. It kept wrapping around
and wrapping around
and wrapping around, eventually binding,
causing the disco ball to fall. [Judge Brogdon] So this was
a disaster waiting to happen. It was because of
the tacky balloons. Tacky, tacky, tacky. -This is unbelievable.
-[Harris] To make
matters worse– Now, Ms. Ryman,
when you look
at this animation, uh, it is kinda common sense
that balloons will get into an argument
with that disco ball. It says here
in the court papers that the reason
why you wanted balloons is to honor your father.That was kind of
his trademark gift
to friends and family.-Is that right?
-[sobbing] Yeah. [Judge Brogdon] Okay,
that’s a beautiful thing. But then mom comes in with even more balloons. You know there’s
the crazy cat ladies? -Sure.
-I think she’s
the crazy balloon lady. [audience laughs] -[Judge Brogdon] You may
return back to the podium.
-Thank you. -[Judge Brogdon]
Mom is here, right?
-Yes, Your Honor. Ms. Patterson,
could you stand up please? I wanna hear from you,
if you’ll step to the podium. Thank you, Your Honor. State your name
for the record. I’m Irma Patterson. I’m also
known as Mama Balloon. [Judge Brogdon] “Mama Balloon.” -Mama Balloon.
-That’s a very
fitting name, Your Honor. So, you wanted the balloons? -I did. This has been…
And lots of them. …a family tradition. As she was saying,
we did this in honor
of my late husband. -Yes, ma’am. A tribute to him.
-[Patterson] Yes.Every event we have,
we have balloons.[Judge Brogdon]
So your husband,
Sam, and your dad,he’s always present
when the balloons are present.[Patterson]Yes, sir.You know, put a few
in a little arrangement
on one of the tables. Write dad’s name
on one of them,
whatever we need to do. [Judge Brogdon] That–
That wouldn’t have been
enough of a tribute. -You are rude.
-No, no, Your Honor. Now, you showed up
with what sounds like
a lot more balloons than they anticipated. Why? She had gotten balloons
but not what we had asked for. So I ordered 300 more balloons
and had them delivered. -[Judge Brogdon]
Three-hundred more balloons?
-Yes, sir. Your Honor, basically,
mom caused the accident. She should be
suing her mother
instead of me. -When you bring 300 in there–
-That’s a lot of balloons. [Harris] You couldn’t even
see the disco ball. Listen, if Matt was
holding on to that, it probably would
pick his 275-pound frame up. With 300 balloons,
it’d be like Matty Poppins
or something. [all laughing] So, Ms. Patterson, you brought 300 more balloons.
Did you tell them in advance? -[Patterson] I did not.
-Why not? It was going to be
a surprise for my daughter. This was a magic event. -[Judge Brogdon] Trying to…
-This was the most
magical event of her life. -And I wanted it to be–
-It’s a shame you ruined it. You ruined it. -Oh, hush.
-You ruined it. You ought to be
ashamed of yourself. Yeah, you should
have known better.
This is your job. Mmm-hmm, and I tried to do it,
but you all would not listen
to my advice. -[Ryman] You never said
it would be hazardous.
-[Judge Brogdon bangs gavel] [Judge Brogdon]
Talk to me. I mean, you just
kind of have to throw your hands up
at some point because Bridezilla and Momzilla had not been listening to
a word I said the whole time. I wanna understand,
’cause it looks
like, you know, a party favor. [stammers] I– It’s still tough
to understand how
it caused all these injuries. We’re gonna bring in
Ms. Katie Lowrie. She’s a physics expert
who’s gonna tell us the physics
of how this happened. -Sheriff Matt,
will you get Ms. Lowrie?
-[Matt] Sure will. -Ms. Lowrie, welcome.
-Thank you. Can you talk about
the forces at play
with this ball falling? Yes, so it’s all about
the energy transfer. -[Judge Brogdon] Okay.
-It’s all about how much
energy was transferred from the disco ball
which we know weighs 15 pounds,and the plaintiff’s head
which was approximately
15 feet below the disco ball.We find,
using that information,that the velocity
of the speed of the ball
as it hit her headwas 21 miles an hour.So what that means for us is
we can calculate the energy that was absorbed
by her head– Like a car going
21 miles an hour,
that kind of miles an hour? -Yes, yes, absolutely.
-Okay. And we can use
our kinetic energy formula, one-half our mass, M,
times our velocity, V-squared,and we find that
the amount of energythat was transferred to her
was 221 foot-pounds of energy. -Almost like
Matt falling on her head.
-Yes. [audience gasping] -Ms. Lowrie, thank you
so much for your testimony.
-Thank you. Parties, I think
I’ve heard enough. I’m ready
to make my decision. [applause] [applause] Folks, in every
personal injury case,
there are three elements. That is someone did
something wrong, and that wrong
caused your harm. Here you clearly are harmed, and your harm was caused
by this disco ball falling. So, Ms. Ryman, this very
special day turned out
to be a tragic day. -Yes.
-You designed this event. You and your mom
planned on this big
tribute to your dad. You and your husband
and your family
were gonna celebrate these 20 years of marriage, and it turned out to be–
Instead of riding
in a horse and buggy, you rode away
in an ambulance, -and that’s not how
it’s supposed to turn out.
-[Ryman] No. Ms. Harris,
you are the professional… and they should not
have had balloons.
They insisted on it and the mom even
with 300 balloons, which made
this kind of thing more likely, and more importantly
from your perspective, -not your fault.
-That’s correct, Your Honor. The evidence in this case
is rather perplexing because it’s kind of
a perfect storm of things. Mama Balloon,
I love that title. She admitted that
she surprised Ms. Harris trying to surprise you. A beautiful thing, but a beautiful thing
the chance of danger and a bad outcome. Ms. Ryman, I find that
your mother is responsible
for your injuries. [audience exclaiming] No, no, no. But she’s not
the only one responsible. Ms. Harris, I find that
you are the backstop of safety. When you saw
all these balloons, you could have said, “Stop.” [Harris] I tried, Your Honor. Because you didn’t,
this happened. But the both of you
this very tragic outcome. In that regard, I find that
you are 75% negligent, and your mom
contributed 25% to the fall. Here, you’ve asked this court
to find for you in the amount
of $250,000. In light of your
for your injuries, I’m giving you 75% of that. I’m going to award to you
and against Ms. Harris $187,500. That is my final decision, and this matter is adjourned. [applause] [Patterson] Yes! [Judge Brogdon]
Our Attorneys Across Americajust viewed this case
for the first time.Let’s hear what
Gary Martin Hays has to say.The physics expert
provided critical testament for the plaintiff. She showed the severity
of the impact that the disco ball
had on the plaintiff’s head. It equaled 221 pounds
of force at the instant of impact. This was a concentrated force
hitting the plaintiff’s skull. Often times, an expert witness
can be the difference between losing your case or taking home
millions of dollars. [applause continues]