Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Tortfeasor Tortoise

Although I am not a lawyer, I enjoy reading and thinking about law.  One (somewhat funny) legal term that I keep coming across is torts or tort law.  In layman's terms, a tort is an action that (unfairly) causes someone else to suffer loss or harm.  The party that is responsible for the harm is called the tortfeasor.  One reason I come across this term often is that Antitrust Law is a subset of tort law (Antitrust is also a subset of Industrial Organization, my primary field within economics).

At any rate, why do I bring this up now?  Shanna forwarded this story from Yahoo news.
After living together in captivity for 115 years, a mated pair of giant tortoises at an Austrian zoo are refusing to share their cage.
Last week, the Austrian Times reported the turtles were getting a "divorce," after the female turtle, Bibi, bit off part of the male turtle, Poldi’s, shell.
Zoo staff reported the pair have reached the point where they “couldn’t stand each other,” and despite staff efforts to reconcile the reptiles, with aphrodisiacs and interactive games, nothing seems to have helped.
If wrongful biting were a well-established tort, I think Poldi might have a case.  Then, we could call Bibi the Tortfeasor Tortoise.

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