Coconut-gate? Mardi Gras Coconut Lawsuit Sparks High Court Appeal

By Jason Beahm on April 29, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Only in Louisiana. 

If a coconut falls from the sky, does it make a sound? 

Yes! says Daisy Johnson Palmer, a retired teacher who was allegedly struck in the head by a coconut at Mardi Gras in 2006. She is appealing her negligence claim to the Louisiana Supreme Court, challenging the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal's dismissal of her coconut lawsuit against the alleged coconut thrower. 

As Richard Fausset of the Los Angeles Times reports, Palmer's claims in the Mardi Gras lawsuit include recurring nightmares of flying coconuts coming to strike her in the eye.  Besides her nightmares, Palmer alleges depression and a loss of interest in Mardi Gras. Not to mention a nasty bump on the head from the falling coconut. 

This bizarre legal drama began in 2006 at the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club parade. Zulu's vice president, Naaman Stewart, is allegedly on video throwing several coconuts into the crowd. The coconuts are part of a Zulu tradition and are apparently highly sought after by the crowd. In fact, there is a law known as the "Mardi Gras Immunity Statute," which prevents lawsuits arising from injuries caused by items thrown from floats. The legislation was likely designed to prevent cases like the coconut lawsuit, as it specifically bars injuries from coconuts. However, the statute does not protect against "deliberate and wanton act[s] or gross negligence." Zulu's rules prohibit the throwing of coconuts, only allowing them to be handed out. 

Stewart denies striking Palmer with a coconut. Besides, says Stewart, these were new "lightweight" coconuts that are hollowed out. Stewart's attorney, Thomas R. Hightower added, "the no-throwing rule does not apply to the light coconuts. Even if they did, the immunity law should apply.

Well, that certainly clears it up. 

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