Before he was Jeff B. Cohen, Show Biz Lawyer Supreme, he was the clumsy, vocal, faithful side-kick in Steven Spielberg's mondo 80's hit The Goonies.
He's long since put the Truffle Shuffle aside, earning his Juris Doctor from UCLA Law School and was recently named one of the top 35 entertainment executives under 35 years old by The Hollywood Reporter.
Now he's here to answer all of video gamedom's legal questions in a piece we like to call Ask Jeff B.Cohen, Esq, aka Chunk, Show Biz Lawyer Supreme:
Dear Chunk, Attorney At Law,
I'm a newspaper carrier on Easy Street for a large daily. In the past week, I've been accosted by breakdancers, chased by a rabid Scottish terrier, and backed into by a hearse. Who is liable for my medical treatment, the individuals involved, or my employer, who also makes me ride a hazardous obstacle course at the end of each route?
DEAR PAPERBOY: It has certainly been a tough economic environment for print media in our digital age. But, I never knew it was so hazardous for our hard working Paperboys. The notion that you are merely trying to perform your sacred duty to the Fourth Estate only to be kicked in the proverbial sack by a rabid break dancer is appalling.
I pray your employer has a very solid Workers' Comp policy. Regarding that hearse, you should be able to go after the driver's insurance company. It seems like you would have a negligence claim against the owner of the vicious pooch. Additionally, although legislators have attempted to outlaw break dancing for years, it is not illegal on its face (Although Pop'n & Lock'n is banned in 42 states). Perhaps the breaker could be arrested for criminal assault and sued civilly for the intentional tort of battery.
If you are under 16, your employer may be on the hook if they have not secured a valid work permit issued by your school. Also, if that hazardous obstacle course he is having you perform is found by a court to be a job that "includes a hazardous task," because you are minor, your employer can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Persevere brave Paperboy! You show us the true cost of our First Amendment freedoms: Being bitten in the ass by a Scottish Terrier. I salute you!
Dear Chunk, Attorney At Law,
What is your level of familiarity with antiquities laws? On my travels recently I may have "collected" a few dozen treasures that several governments, including those of Turkey and China, now want back. But what if I accidentally already sold them for some clothes and firearms?
Dear N. DRAKE: I'm fairly knowledgeable on this subject. In my days as a chunky young boy, some friends and I used the five finger discount on a bit of pirate booty ourselves.
Trading ancient sacred artifacts for clothes is not usually a great idea. But, trading them for shotguns, grenades, tranquilizer dart guns and automatic weapons is usually a worse idea. I'm a bit puzzled how precisely you "collected" a few dozen treasures? Hopefully it did not involve these firearms you traded for. That would involve an entirely new set of legal calculations.
For any goodies you may have found in the United States, there are laws that prohibit the removal or prehistoric objects from federal or tribal land. Regarding anything you "collected" in Turkey or China, there will likely be problems under the National Stolen Property Act and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, which are often used as legal mechanisms to protect cultural property taken from a foreign country. You might be subject to criminal prosecution for buying, selling or trading such items.
Also, please keep in mind that pissing off China is usually a mistake. They invented Kung Fu and have nuclear weapons. It is also generally a good idea to avoid legal entanglements with Turkey. Although it is a lovely country famous for its luxurious Turkish Baths it is also famous for its decidedly non-luxurious Turkish Prisons.
Dear Chunk, Attorney at Law,
Sadly, I need some advice on right-to-die statutes. For the past 20 years I have been trapped in a Central American jungle fighting aliens. I am so, so tired, Judge Chunk, of the shooting and the wounding and the hell all around me. Just when I think it is over, someone takes extraordinary measures to give me 30 more lives. Please, Judge Chunk, I only want death's sweet, final, embrace.
DEAR LANCE AND BILL: There is so much to live for. The sweet caress of your lover, the delicious taste of Rocky Road ice-cream AND an endless supply of reasonably priced internet pornography at the mere click of a mouse!
But, if I can't talk you out of this drastic act, you are going to have a pretty tough time with legal suicide down in Central America, which is predominantly Roman Catholic and generally not a fan of this sort of thing. You may want to note that Uruguay recently passed a law allowing terminally ill patents to refuse life-prolonging treatment, so if you get shot-up, perhaps you can ask to be airlifted there.
If you were somehow able to get out of the jungle, and make it to Oregon, you might be able to get your wish under Oregon's "Death With Dignity Act", which was challenged and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2006 in Gonzales v. Oregon. However, you will have to convince them you are a citizen of Oregon, diagnosed with a terminal illness that will kill you within 6 months. As this may be a difficult argument to make, I implore you, as it is written on George Michael's T-Shirt in the immortal video for Wake Me Up Before You Go Go…CHOOSE LIFE!
Dear Chunk, Attorney At Law,
President Ronnie needed saving. Someone asked me if I was a bad enough dude to do that. Well, I was. All I got was a goddamn hamburger with the president.
Now, I probably should have negotiated my fee ahead of time, but I incurred considerable expenses and medical bills performing this service to my country, and I can't even get treatment at a VA Hospital. May I sue the Defense Department, or will this require an act of Congress to make me whole?
A Bad Dude
DEAR BAD DUDE: You're in a tough spot Bad Dude. As they say, an oral agreement isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
If you sue the secret service or the defense department, or whoever sent you on this mission, they will probably deny that you exist.
Let's turn lemons into lemonade. Perhaps, you could engage my firm to sell the book rights, film rights and video game rights to your life story. Kids love Bad Dudes. Kids love Dragons. Kids love Ninjas. What kid won't pluck down $15 bucks to watch Dragon Ninjas fighting a Bad Dude in IMAX 3-D.
To ensure a fat deal for your life rights, we may have to add in some Vampires, Werewolves and angsty teenagers.
I smell Oscar…
Dear Chunk, Attorney At Law,
I'm being stalked by an amorous Italian plumber. Everywhere I go he eventually turns up. Recently he's become quite violent, fighting friends and enemies in street brawls. What can I do?
Dear PRINCESS P: Given their agility at maneuvering through sewers and unfettered access to giant wrenches, violent plumbers can be quite dangerous.
I suggest you immediately go down to your local court house, file a few forms and get a temporary restraining order against this amorous plumber. In order to make this permanent, you will have to demonstrate to the judge that he has been violent, threatened violence, or harassed you or caused you substantial emotional distress in some way. Seeing that he is trying to prove his love for you by attacking giant lizards with hammers in front of your castle, you should have an easy time of making this argument.
You should be able to get an order preventing him from following you, stalking you and can even specify certain locations and other people that he needs to stay away from, such as your castle, Yoshi, etc...
Thanks to Cohen for his erudite answers, Cohen & Gardner, LLP associate, Bradley J. Garrett, Esq. for legal research and Owen Good for wrangling questions from a slew of in-game characters.
Jeff B. Cohen received his Juris Doctor from UCLA Law School. While at UCLA Law, Mr. Cohen obtained his degree with an emphasis in business law and was honored to speak at his law school commencement. Mr. Cohen received his undergraduate degree from The University of California at Berkeley, Haas School of Business. While at UC Berkeley, Mr. Cohen was honored to serve as President of the Associated Students of the University of California. Mr. Cohen also has the dubious distinction of being a former child star appearing most notably in the role of "Chunk" in the 80's cult film "The Goonies," directed by Richard Donner and produced by Steven Spielberg. In 2008, Mr. Cohen was profiled by Variety in its Dealmakers Impact Issue. Additionally, Mr. Cohen was recently named one of the top 35 entertainment executives under 35 years old by The Hollywood Reporter.
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