Like every sports blogger on the planet, our own Ryan Nanni was once an attorney. From time to time, against his better judgment, we allow him to flex his atrophied legal muscles. This week's topic is the literal universe of legal complications and liabilities surrounding the Star Wars universe. Boy howdy: those lawyer muscles are atrophied something fierce.
1. Assume the AT-AT walkers used by the Empire in the attack on Hoth were rented. Who pays for the damage: the Empire, the Rebel Alliance, the AT-AT manufacturer, or the rental company?
If the Empire paid for premium insurance coverage, the rental company would be primarily responsible for repair costs; otherwise, the Empire's on the hook. However, the manufacturer will likely have to cover any AT-AT damage cause by laser damage for walkers that are still under warranty. (The warranty specifically does not cover tow cable-related losses.)
2. Who can Luke sue for the loss of his hand?
There are actually two possible avenues of recovery here.
The first is against the Empire under the doctrine of respondeat superior, as Darth Vader was clearly acting within the scope of his duties as Sith Lord. Vader, however, will have a compelling case for self-defense, given that his intent in the encounter was to turn Skywalker, not injure him.
The second - and more promising - option would be to sue the municipality of Cloud City for negligently designed infrastructure. Any architect in the Star Wars universe knows the risk of dismembered hands falling into a vent is high enough that they should install a grate or guard to keep them from tumbling out into the atmosphere.
3. If Obi-Wan contracted with Han Solo for passage to Alderaan, does he still owe him the remaining 15,000 credits due on arrival?
No. Though an agreement for interstellar passage cannot be voided due to unpredictable planetary collapse, human smuggling contracts have been deemed unenforceable unless the smugglee is escaping religious persecution. If Kenobi were simply seeking passage off Tattooine to escape the Empire's anti-Jedite laws, then the contract would remain intact.
4. Does Uncle Owen (or his executor) have a claim against the Jawas for selling him droids without clean title?
If the oral contract specified a guarantee of quality, then yes. However most oral contracts with Jawas are conducted in at least three languages, and thus invalid in each other language in the contract. (Universal Tort Code, Starfleet Primary Handbook, Sec. 1893, Cod. 82908920848.) This legal quirk allows the Jawas to be very successful in business.
5. Who, if anyone, is legally obligated to purchase a replacement Rancor, and how would this impact Jabba's home insurance policy?
The Rancor Handler. A quirk of Galactic Pet & Torture Animals Law only allows certified handlers to be the legal owner of a Rancor - so, technically, it was never Jabba's in the first place. The Handler could try suing the security gate company for not having a Rancor detection stop function, but only if the company is based in California, the only state that requires them by law.
6. Can C-3PO successfully sue the owners of Mos Eisley cantina for refusing to serve him?
No. Though he can make a prima facie case for discrimination on the basis of robotic composition, the cantina ownership will be able to argue that the droids were asked to leave not because of their non-organic status but because they were nude. (See Imperial Senate Cafeteria Services v. IG-88.)
7. Is Chewbacca an employee?
No. The requirements for employee status vary greatly. Imperial code is actually quite a bit clearer about this, but under many commonly accepted local codes he is a wookie-athlete earning college credit.
8. Did the Empire, on numerous occasions, negligently ignore the need to request an easement across non-Imperial territories?
Oh buddy. Like, a BILLION times.