Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Autopsy/Post Services, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (Cal. Ct. App. - May 17, 2005)

Now I know why I'm not a wealthy entrepreneur. I clearly can't recognize a fantastic business opportunity when I see one. Since I can't understand -- for the life of me (no pun intended) -- how 1-800-AUTOPSY is supposed to make money. Or why exactly its business model requires frontage on heavily traveled Foothill Boulevard in Pasadena. But apparently it does. Or did, anyway. Before the City of Los Angeles successfully put the kibosh on these plans. A kibosh that was affirmed by Justice Boland in this case, which upheld the City's decision to revoke plaintiff's permit to operate its facility on Foothill Boulevard.

The great thing about this opinion is not only the underlying business model (finally, a response to that pent-up demand for private autopsies!), but also the lengths to which the planitiff (allegedly) went through to hide from the City the nature of his business. At least until he put up that huge "1-800-AUTOSPY" sign on the front of his building. The reason he didn't have a vested right in the permit, Justice Boland holds, is because he got the permit by describing his business as a "medical laboratory." Which it is, of course. Sort of. But it's a bit different from what a usual laboratory does, no? For example, the City was hardly aware from this truncated description that plaintiff intended to roll in corpses through his front door, which he'd be doing since the place doesn't even have a back entrance. Not exactly what the neighbors thought they were getting into when they first moved in, I imagine.

Apparently, 1-800-AUTOPSY is still in business, as revealed by its web site (complete with pictures!). Though not on Foothill Boulevard; indeed, its "Contact Info" fails to list any address at all. But fear not. You can still buy tee shirts, caps, coffin cases, skeleton and skull key rings, glow skull magnets, and a wide variety of other quality merchandise from their fully interactive online store. And, if you're interested, you can learn more about the fascinating business history of 1-800-AUTOPSY here. Plus, if you click within the next 10 minutes, you can also view a recommendation letter on its behalf written by none other than Johnny Cochran himself. Life's funny, eh?