Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Editor's Notebook / The letter you wish you could write

The letter you wish you could write

Ever get an annoying letter and wish you could just tell it straight in your response? The sports website Deadspin had a 2010 post that is making the rounds again. It featured an exchange between two lawyers; the reply letter is breathtakingly succinct and on point.

Back in 1974, Dale O. Cox, a lawyer from Akron, Ohio, with season tickets to Cleveland Browns games, didn’t like the fact that fans had started throwing paper airplanes at the stadium. In a letter on his firm’s letterhead, he wanted to make sure that the team knew that “there is the risk of serious eye injury and perhaps an ear injury as a result of such airplanes.” Ear injury? That would be quite a paper airplane.

Here’s the lawyerese, clearly setting up the team for a claim when he got hit in the ear: “Please be advised that since you are in a position to control or terminate such action on the part of the fans, I will hold you responsible for any injury sustained by any person in my party attending one of your sporting events.”

He concluded, “It is hoped that this disrespectful and possibly dangerous activity will be terminated.” Yes, and passive voice is to be avoided.

James N. Bailey, general counsel for Cleveland Stadium Corp., where the team played, wrote a three-line response, saying… well, read it yourself here.

Leave a Reply