Unusual, Strange & Funny Judicial Decisions and Opinions logo Sterling Fry was mad.

Very mad.

At his wife Eva and her new boyfriend I. J. Leopold.

Rather than take the law into his own hands, even though this was 1939, he sued in the Court of Common Pleas of Ohio.

His claim:

"Because of defendant's wicked and malicious conduct, love and affection of plaintiff's wife was alienated from plaintiff and plaintiff was deprived of wife's comfort, fellowship, society, and services, and of her aid and comfort in domestic affairs."

He won but a scant $1 jury award. Now he was twice mad and he raged into the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Stark County, where his lawyers went beak to beak with Justices Montgomery, Sherick and Lemert.

It was Montgomery that wrote the unanimous opinion of the Court. Unanimous, unique and nutty. The appealed was dismissed but what stuck out was the touch of Shakespeare followed by playful characterizations of the alleged attorney misconduct.

Opéras bouffes combine comedy, satire, parody and farce; Mazeppa, an opera of love, abduction and murder. The Mills Brothers were a renowned jazz quartet. Strange Interlude was a controversial and very long play written by American Eugene O'Neill.

All rise!

The judgment of the court!

With painstaking care we have read the scena presented, consisting of nine hundred and thirty-four pages. We use this term in view of the definition ... as an accompanied dramatic recitative interspersed with passages of melody.

And we use it advisedly, since the authors of the production submitted for our consideration seem to have acted on the theory that:

"All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."

The subject for our review is a judgment rendered by the Court of Common Pleas for the appellant in the sum of $1.... His counsel maintain the claim that the action was one for the alienation of the affection of his former wife. Appellee insists that the action was for alleged criminal conversation.

The petition averred that because of the wicked and malicious conduct of the defendant (Leopold) ... the love and affection of ... Eva M. Fry has been alienated from the plaintiff and he has been deprived of the comfort, fellowship, society and services of his said wife and of her aid and comfort in his domestic affairs.

The answer was a general denial....

Assignments of error go to alleged misconduct of counsel. There are but few pages in this record free from reports of altercation. It would appear that two, three and four lawyers were talking more or less continually, injecting comments, making facetious remarks, paying but little attention to the rulings of the trial judge.

Certainly this turning of a lawsuit into an opera bouffe is to be criticized severely, but, in the absence of a showing that the rights of a litigant were affected adversely, we are not disposed to disturb the judgment.

In view of our characterization of this record, this conduct of counsel deserves some further comment. Mr. Walter Ruff (attorney for Mr. Leopold) played many parts.

He bewailed his fate in tragic manner not unworthy of a King Lear. Imitating Mazeppa, he lashed his soul naked to the wild horse of his fervid imagination.

In the final act, he interspersed the melody, and assumed the role of leading tenor in light opera, singing to the jury and to the spectators.

Mr. Arthur Limbach (attorney for Mr. Fry), laying aside for the nonce the duties imposed upon a statesman, exhibited histrionic ability of no mean order. Counsel for appellant presented facetiously as the Mills brothers, took the part of the chorus in Greek drama, and, beholding what passed in the acts of the tragedy, expressed vociferously the sentiments evoked by the passing events.

It is true that tragedy and comedy were somewhat confused and at times all the leading actors sought a hearing simultaneously. The whole performance might well rival Mr. Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude, which for weirdness in conception and duration of execution amazed all who saw and heard it.

The play is ended.

The actors who failed to receive the curtain calls seek a return engagement.

We are not disposed to book it.

The judgment may be affirmed.