I’ve always thought of April 1st as the day to celebrate practical jokes and hoaxes among friends and family.  My usual jokes ranged from playing a silly little prank on my brother to telling a white lie to my best friend.  However these days, some people have taken “April Fool’s” to another level.  For example, one radio station awarded a new Hummer to a caller on April Fools day.  To the caller’s dismay, when she went to claim her prize, the radio station gave her a toy Hummer instead.  The caller sued the radio station for the price of the Hummer, a whopping $60,000!  These sorts of practical jokes have "lawsuit" written all over them.  Do people ever stop and think about the liabilities associated with unfair and sometimes dangerous pranks?

I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss the potential lawsuits and legal liabilities associated with some “April Fool’s” jokes.

Legal Liabilities Associated With Certain April Fool’s Pranks:

  • Radio Stations should not lie on air or else they may be liable for the damages caused by their misrepresentation.  Moreover, under Section 73.1217, the FCC may fine the radio station for broadcasting something knowing it is false and reasonably foreseeable to cause substantial public harm.
  • Employers may be held liable for the damages caused by their employees' practical jokes.
  • Always consider the scope and extent of your victims consent.  This means that if you do not know how the target victim will react to a specific type of prank, you probably shouldn’t play that prank on them.  You may be end up being liable for assault or battery.
  • Don’t pretend to be a robber, even with a toy gun.  You can be arrested.
  • Don’t negligently cause damages to another. For example, if you make a misrepresentation of fact to another on which the person relies and which causes damages, you may be liable for the tort of negligent misrepresentation.

So remember, just because it is April Fool’s, you are not relieved from the every day liability for the damages you cause another.  On that note, happy April 1st and please stay Safe!

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