LSAT Logic: Lessons From Skydiving

LSAT Blog Logic Lessons From SkydivingThis past Saturday, I went skydiving for the first time. Yes, it was amazing, and yes, I probably used 5 years' worth of adrenaline during the 13,500-foot jump.

After waking up at 5AM to travel out east on Long Island, my friends and I reached an old military airstrip where the skydiving company operates.

We signed a legal document (PDF) that says, among other things:
I am aware that “parachuting/ skydiving activities” are inherently dangerous and may result in injury or death...

I hereby release and discharge SKYDIVE LONG ISLAND from any and all liability, claims, demands or causes of action that I may hereafter have for injuries or damages arising out of my participation in “skydiving/ parachuting activities” even if caused by negligence or other fault of SKYDIVE LONG ISLAND.

Needless to say, that document only had the effect of making us feel more hardcore for going skydiving. I mean, what's left after that? Base jumping? Bullfighting?

(By the way, if there are any future lawyers reading this, you can probably learn something from that contract (PDF).)

Well, a Google News search for "skydiving" informed me that some jerk named Felix Baumgartner is skydiving from space (a distance of 23 miles), and he's doing it, not for his own self-interest or bragging rights, but for science.

Baumgartner's 120,000-foot free-fall breaks a record, he gets to fall faster than the speed of sound, and it's all sponsored by Red Bull, which gets a ton of free media coverage.

Baumgartner's clearly trying to make me look bad.

Fortunately, Baumgartner may not the angel that portrays.

Another Google News search led me to this article from Courthouse News.

Apparently, some guy named Hogan pitched the space skydive idea ("SpaceDive") to Red Bull a few years ago. Hogan claims Red Bull pumped him for info about the project, told him they weren't interested in working with him, then went ahead with it a few years later without compensating him for his idea.

This all raises the question:

Does Hogan deserve compensation?

The answers to the following questions would help us evaluate Hogan's argument (which would then allow us to strengthen it, weaken it, point out flaws, etc):

-How likely is it that Red Bull independently arrived at the SpaceDive idea a few years later? / How unique is this idea? / How many others have independently arrived at this idea?

-Would Red Bull have carried out the project even if Hogan hadn't approached them a few years earlier?

-How similar is Hogan's initial proposal to the final one?

-Did Red Bull ever sign a contract indicating that they were obligated to compensate Hogan for any projects discussed between them?

-Did Hogan come up with the idea himself, or did he get it elsewhere? / Did Hogan's friend actually come up with the idea, but Hogan just beat him to the punch in approaching Red Bull?

Principles that would strengthen Hogan's argument for monetary compensation:
-If one person provides another with an idea, and the latter uses that idea, then the former deserves a significant portion of profits resulting from that idea

-If two parties come up with the same idea, but one informs the other of this idea, the latter is obligated to compensate the former.

Businesses are usually loathe to sign documents binding them to compensate a non-employee for an idea (or to even listen to such an idea in the first place).

This case is a perfect example - if the non-employee (Hogan) presents an idea that he believes to be unique, but the business (Red Bull) has already been working on something similar, the non-employee might believe himself/herself to be entitled to compensation, when, in fact, he/she is not the sole "idea-haver."


See PrepTest 31 (June 2000), Section 2, Question 14 (p84 in Next 10)
(It's about Leibniz, Newton, and calculus.)

Photo by divemasterking2000 / CC BY 2.0


  1. People have been trying to break the altitude record for decades. "His" idea wasn't unique in the slightest.

  2. True, but the idea that Red Bull fund it might be unique.

  3. Its the other parts of the waiver that disturbed me. How much weight do those things hold anyway?

    good trip steve!

  4. Well, the idea of jumping from increasing heights might not be new. The conversation would go something like this, I believe:

    Redbull Exec.: " So Mr. Hogan after you jump out of the lobby of a space ship and hope you land safe back on earth, how do you make sure you land on terra firma and avoid looking like a rotisserie chicken"

    If Mr. HOGAN'S reply was: " Oh Mr. Red! you could try to blow air out of your mouth in the reverse direction to avoid reaching the speed of sound", I think Redbull should fry Mr. Hogan.

    If Mr. Hogan's reply was: " Oh Mr. Red! you could try to cover yourself with this material X and this parachute Y...", I think Redbull should fry Mr. Hogan for not signing a contract before he disclosed X and Y.

    If Mr. Hogan's reply was: "Oh Mr. Red! I would need to sign a contract to tell you that", then Mr. Hogan was smart and from that point onwards it was up to Redbull to go figure it out on their own or to contact Hogan.

  5. @Kelvin

    After law school, you can tell us.


    Haha, love it!

  6. Just read this... way to go Steve!

    Went skydiving twice this last summer... awesome. Epic. Terrifying. Exhilarating.

    I had a chubby for weeks.



    I'm going again next spring though! Too bad you're in NY- we could jump together!

    PS your third jump? By yourself. Yikes.