Alchemy and West Headnote of the Day

July 5, 2010


Summer Associates are some of the most devoted employees one could ever find.  Ready, willing and able to work long hours until the wee hours of the morning on difficult issues.  

While from time to time you might take a coffee break, longer lunch break, or perhaps even an internet break, rest assured that no matter how you may choose to recharge at work it cannot end as poorly as it did for one Donald R. McClendon.  

Mr. McClendon was employed upon a ship in dry dock when he sustained injuries to his lungs.  The injuries stemmed from inhalation of mercury vapors.  The mercury was not a byproduct of his job but rather his hobby, namely alchemy. 

You see while on break Mr. McClendon felt compelled to use his free time to perform an experiment whereby he combined a potato, mercury and an oven in an ill conceived, and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to transmute the concoction into gold.  

Although the ship was in dry-docking at the time, Mr. McClendon attempted to recover under the Jones act.  His Jones act claim was perhaps unsurprisingly as unsuccessful as his alchemical experiment. 

The decision linked and described above was found through West’s Headnote of the Day.  West’s Headnote of the Day is a daily email you can sign up for (it is free), and each day you will get a headnote from a case that is always interesting and sometimes hilarious.  You can sign up for the Headnote of the Day here.