'Very truly yours'

A legal letter of note

It’s a big day in the very niche world of legal letters (of note): the anniversary of a classic which you may well have seen, but which you will now see again. For it was on this day in 1974 that an attorney named Dale Cox wrote to his favourite American football club, the Cleveland Browns, and informed them that a number of the team’s fans were regularly throwing paper aeroplanes in the stadium—a potentially “dangerous” activity that could, he warned, cause “serious eye injury” to innocent fans such as himself. His letter can be read below, along with the now legendary reply he soon received from the club’s legal department.


THE COMPLAINT

November 18, 1974

Gentlemen:

I am one of your season ticket holders who attends or tries to attend every game. It appears that one of the pastimes of several fans has become the sailing of paper airplanes generally made out of the game program. As you know, there is the risk of serious eye injury and perhaps an ear injury as a result of such airplanes. I am sure that this has been called to your attention and that several of your ushers and policemen witnessed the same.

Please be advised that since you are in a position to control or terminate such action on the part of fans, I will hold you responsible for any injury sustained by any person in my party attending one of your sporting events. It is hoped that this disrespectful and possibly dangerous activity will be terminated.

Very truly yours,

ROETZEL & ANDRESS

[Signed]

Dale O. Cox


THE RESPONSE

November 21, 1974

Dear Mr. Cox:

Attached is a letter that we received on November 19, 1974. I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters.

Very truly yours,

CLEVELAND STADIUM CORP.

James N. Bailey,

General Counsel