Friday, April 25, 2008

Headless Man Sues, Loses


In legal news, a lawsuit filed by David Hanson and Hanson Robotics (the creators of the PKD android) was dismissed by a California court on March 29th. Hanson sued America West airlines after leaving PKD's electric head in the overhead bin on a trip from Texas to San Francisco. Read the (high-larious) decision here or here.

Here are a few highlights:

"Plaintiff David Hanson (“Plaintiff”) has lost his head. More specifically, Plaintiff has lost an artistically and scientifically valuable robotic head modeled after famous science fiction author Philip K. Dick (“Head”). Dick’s well-known body of work has resulted in movies such as Total Recall, Blade Runner, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly, and a large group of admirers has grown following his death in Orange County, California, in 1982. His stories have questioned whether robots can be human (see, e.g., Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)), so it seems appropriate that Plaintiff reincarnated Dick as a robot which included the Head, valued at around $750,000. (Motion 1:9-10.)"

I never knew people outside the Bush administration could write snarky court documents. Can you imagine the laugh PKD is having in the Palm Tree Garden over all this? Can I sue Hanson for negligently creating a dangerous surplus of dramatic irony?

The brief continues:

"Plaintiff brought the Head onto the plane in a carry-on duffel bag and stored it in the overhead bin. Plaintiff fell asleep during the flight from Texas to Las Vegas, and woke up when the plane arrived in Las Vegas. (Motion 1:22-25.) On waking, Plaintiff immediately left the plane to catch his connecting flight to San Francisco. (SUF ¶ 2, SGI ¶ 2.) Perhaps because he had just woken up, Plaintiff lacked the total recall [ba-dum-bump-chee] to remember to retrieve the Head from the overhead bin."

I can't believe they didn't take this case to Judge Judy. She would have loved to deliver this line:

"While hearts may be left in San Francisco, heads apparently are left in Orange County, or are simply lost or stolen."

The legal brief concludes:

"Philip K. Dick and other science fiction luminaries have often explored whether robots might eventually evolve to exercise freedom of choice. See, e.g., 2001: A Space Odyssey (a HAL 9000 exercises his freedom of choice to make some bad decisions). But there is no doubt that humans have the freedom of choice to bind themselves in mutually advantageous contractual relationships. When Plaintiff chose to enter the Contract of Carriage with Defendant he agreed, among other things, to limit Defendant’s liability for lost baggage. Failing to show that he is entitled to relief from that agreement, Plaintiff is bound by the terms of that contract, which bars his state law claims...The Court must GRANT Defendant’s Motion. But it does so hoping that the android head of Mr. Dick is someday found, perhaps in an Elysian field of Orange County, Dick’s homeland, choosing to dream of electric sheep."

Closure, finally! Oh and if you're reading this and you have the head, nice work. Obviously David Hanson was not ready for the huge responsibility of keeping track of PKD's head. I hope you're putting it to good use, or that it's putting you to good use.

Thanks Gabriel McKee!

5 comments:

lawyer crazy said...

how could they not have used a dickhead pun?! somebody needs to be sued for negligence on that count!

Anonymous said...

After seeing so many fake PKD signatures sold on ebay should we expect to see a fake PKD head for sale?

MDK said...

Well, guys, Phil may very well be ROFL over at the PTG. However, when a government entity pokes fun at a person because of his/her name and the situation, well, I'm inclined to think that Phil wouldn't find this so cutesy. Especially since this is a government he was so paranoid over. He may be chuckling one minute, but I gaurantee he'd be cursing the next. As a matter of fact, I find this rather disturbing. Oh yeah, I'd love to be a robotic fly on the wall, when this judge in particular finds that he is indeed in the "BIP", and believe me, it will happen. $*#! What would VALIS do?

Sorry for the Rant, just had to get that out.

Anonymous said...

I find it disturbing that Hanson is the only person named as creator. The software and programming for the head were created by a grad student at the University of Memphis.

Anonymous said...

There was a lot more shared work than that going into David's work... Look into his other university and student collaborators. He apparently didn't even pay many of them for work rendered...