A COURT CASE TURNING ON THE USE—OR NONUSE—OF THE OXFORD COMMA. I posted here about RAB’s discussion of the Oxford comma on her You Know What I Meant blog. She gives a striking example of the ambiguity which can result from omitting the “Oxford comma”. (The Oxford comma is the comma preceding “and” in a series.) I posted here about the issues that commas can present in legal documents.
This article on the Fortune web site and this article on the CNN web site discuss a court case in Maine in which the result turned on the failure to use the Oxford comma in a statute dealing with the right to overtime pay.
Here is the decision of the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals dated March 13, 2017. Note that the district court had reached the opposite interpretation of the statute, thus showing that reasonable people and reasonable judges can differ in construing an ambiguous statute and demonstrating the value of an Oxford comma in avoiding ambiguity.