How to Sue the Kingpin for Breaching the Spider-Verse

Legal Analysis from Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

Go see Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse. The film is a testament to all Spider-Man comics and a complete joy. Major spoilers ahead true believers, so don’t read any further until you see the movie.

The Kingpin of Earth-1610 commissioned Dr. Olivia Octavius to build an inter-dimensional collider to find identical versions of his late wife and son. The experiments caused a breach into multiple different universes, allowing property from different realities to crash into the New York of Earth-1610. Multiple versions of Spider-Man and other web-slingers were also pulled into Earth-1610 against their will.

What are the possible causes of action against Wilson Fisk for his experiments?

The issue of property damage on Earth-1610 is the most lineal one to analyze (well, excluding what Kingpin did to Peter Parker of Earth-1610). New York case law examining property damage from intentional blasting has strict liability for property damage. Spano v. Perini Corp., 25 N.Y.2d 11, 17-18 (1969). Case law originally allowed a defendant to avoid liability if they could show they took reasonable care to avoid injury, however that view was rejected, because someone who engages in blasting should NOT be able to “to impose this risk upon nearby persons or property without assuming responsibility therefor.” Spano, at *18, rejecting Booth v. Rome, W. & O. T. R. Co., 140 N.Y. 267 (1893).

The inter-dimensional collider experiments were inherently dangerous activities, in the same category as blasting operations. As such, Wilson Fisk would be held liable for injuries caused to neighboring property with or without trespass. Cont’l Ins. Co. v. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 163 Misc. 2d 594, 595 (App. Term 1994). The only issue is how to prove damages were caused by the inter-dimensional collider experiments.

Plaintiffs would need to prove that “but for” the inter-dimensional collider experiments, their property sustained damage. This could include that prior to the time of the experiments, their property did not have any damages, and after the experiments their property was damaged. This could be from testimony, but cell phone photos, street camera footage, and other evidence to document property condition might be required to show the damage was caused by property from an alternate reality crashing into the subject property in the lawsuit

One possible complexity is that the alien property that caused the damage returned to its reality after the threat was neutralized, which would require plaintiffs to present evidence with photos or video of the damage. While it would be ideal to have actual footage or alternate realities crashing into damaged property, a court likely would not require that much proof given the extreme nature of the incident.

The harder question is for individuals on alternate Earths to sue Wilson Fisk for damage to their realities. There are substantial service of process and forum non conveniens issues in seeking relief for damage caused in mirror universes.