As office workers, few attorneys have the opportunity to contemplate what workplace injuries can mean to their clients. Honestly, what’s the worst injury you can get on the job in a law office? A paper cut? Your panties in a wad?
In the porn industry, like any other, workplace injuries are an issue. Normally, it is the female talent that winds up a little sore. I mean, those high platform heels will make a girl’s feet hurt like you wouldn’t believe. But, even for the men on a straight porn set, even one that involves no strap-ons, danger lurks… waiting to pounce upon an unsuspecting victim.
Prince Yahshua, CEO of Silverback Entertainment, recently met this unfortunate fate. (Source.) While working with Bethany Benz, a/k/a Caviar, a reality television star and porn novice, they were filming a scene where she was riding him “reverse cowgirl” For those of you who don’t know that position, she was on top of Prince, straddling him while facing toward the camera. The couple lost their natural rhythm and, on an upward thrust, Prince had an epic miss, followed by an audible “pop.” Prince’s penis began gushing blood, and he was rushed to a hospital. There, he underwent surgery for a torn urethra and ripped penile muscle wall, staying in the hospital for three days.
Luckily, Prince Yashua is doing well, and we wish him a continued speedy recovery.
Of course, this being a law blog – we need to look at the legal angle – even just in the hypothetical. Could the Prince get compensation for his broken scepter? If he is classified as an employee of the studio, the poor guy is left with nothing but a workers’ compensation claim. Meaning — he gets partial wage replacement and some medical bills paid. That would really make for a boring blog post though, wouldn’t it?
On the other hand, if he is classified as an independent contractor, then one might think that this is a case that turns on whether Bethany was negligent or not in her reverse cowgirl ride. Did she have a duty of care, and if so, did she breach that duty, thus causing injuries to our unfortunate royalty? Is this a case of, “you break, you buy?”
Incredibly, this precise issue has been litigated before. See Doe v. Moe, 63 Mass. App. Ct. 516, 827 N.E.2d 240 (2005).
The plaintiff and the defendant were in a long-term committed relationship. Early in the morning of September 24, 1994, they were engaged in consensual sexual intercourse. The plaintiff was lying on his back while the defendant was on top of him. The defendant’s body was secured in this position by the interlocking of her legs and the plaintiff’s legs. At some point, the defendant unilaterally decided to unlock her legs and place her feet on either side of the plaintiff’s abdomen for the purpose of increasing her stimulation. When the defendant changed her position, she did not think about the possibility of injury to the plaintiff. Shortly after taking this new position, the defendant landed awkwardly on the plaintiff, thereby causing him to suffer a penile fracture.
Although this was generally a position the couple had used before without incident, the defendant did vary slightly the position previously used, without prior specific discussion and without the explicit prior consent of the plaintiff. It is this variation that the plaintiff claims caused his injury. While the couple had practiced what the defendant described as “light bondage” during their intimate relations, there was no evidence of “light bondage” on this occasion. The plaintiff’s injuries were serious and required emergency surgery. He has endured a painful and lengthy recovery. He has suffered from sexual dysfunction that neither medication nor counseling have been able to treat effectively. (Op. at 518)
In that case, the plaintiff wanted the court to use simple negligence theory. Was there a duty? Was it breached? Was the breach the cause of the plaintiff’s damages? But, the
Supreme Judicial Court Court of Appeals of my beloved Commonwealth of Massachusetts just couldn’t stomach the thought of negligent fucking cases spewing all over the courts. The court determined that… well, deciding what was “reasonable care” in bed is just not something they wanted any Massachusetts court to get into.
We must determine whether the application of a standard of reasonable care to private consensual sexual conduct is appropriate or even workable. Questions of fact that would arise from these circumstances must be susceptible to consideration by a fact finder without prejudice and in a spirit of impartiality. Addressing a like issue in a different context, the Supreme Judicial Court recognized that “in light of our own awareness that community values on the subject of permissible sexual conduct no longer are as monolithic” as prior precedent had suggested, it could no longer apply the statutory prohibition of G. L. c. 272, § 35, against “unnatural and lascivious” acts to private, consensual adult sexual conduct. Commonwealth v. Balthazar, 366 Mass. 298 , 302 (1974). [Note 4] There are no comprehensive legal rules to regulate consensual sexual behavior, and there are no commonly accepted customs or values that determine parameters for the intensely private and widely diverse forms of such behavior. [Note 5] In the absence of a consensus of community values or customs defining normal consensual sexual conduct, a jury or judge cannot be expected to resolve a claim that certain consensual sexual conduct is undertaken without reasonable care. (Op. at 520-521)
Accordingly, at least in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a broken dick case (or any other sex injury case) is going to turn on whether the defendant’s conduct was wanton or reckless, not just negligent.
In the case at hand, I think the injury happened in New York, so who knows what the law is there. I didn’t find any broken dick cases in New York case law. Since Massachusetts is way more fucking awesome than New York, they would probably just follow Mass law on this one.
With respect to Bethany Benz, hopefully this incident will not have an impact on her reverse cowgirl, which I have heard from several people is incredible.
Yahshua, on behalf of all men, everywhere, who have ever lived or who ever will live — get well soon.
We’re all pulling for you.