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View Full Version : What does it mean to take "two bites of an apple"?


kmg365
12-31-2003, 07:12 PM
I heard this on the "Today" show used by a couple of lawyers in discussing legal remedies available for a defendant. Obviously it's legal parlance, but what does it really mean?

Q.E.D.
12-31-2003, 07:18 PM
Googling the phrase turns up nothing particularly relevant. My guess it's meant to mean something like "get a lot for a little" or "take what you can get", but without a better context there's no telling.

lucwarm
12-31-2003, 07:30 PM
What it means is when a party tries to get a second chance at something where in fairness they should (arguably) have only one shot.

For example, I had a case a few months back where the other side decided not to call a key witness and lost the case. It then appealed, asking for another hearing to present the testimony of that witness. In effect, they were asking for a second bite at the apple.

What's unfair about it is that (1) the other side gets the benefit of preparing its case with full knowledge of my case; (2) it's kinda analogous to double-jeopardy; and (3) the other side is saving time and resources at the expense of my client by first presenting a limited case and potentially making my client appear twice.

kmg365
12-31-2003, 07:33 PM
OK -- here's a sentence that I pulled from the USPTO.gov (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) site that might add context to the expression "two bites of the apple."

Neither the statute nor the case law has support for the notion of "two bites at the apple." (My emphasis.)

Does "two bites of the apple" have a specific legal meaning or express a particular legal concept, or is it just a quaint colloquialism? Guesses anyone?

kmg365
12-31-2003, 07:37 PM
So I see that it does express a specific legal concept afterall. Thanks lucwarm.

Trillionaire
12-31-2003, 08:44 PM
I've always heard it expressed as "two bites of the cherry" which, I think, is slightly more descriptive.

Khadaji
12-31-2003, 08:48 PM
Originally posted by lucwarm
For example, I had a case a few months back where the other side decided not to call a key witness and lost the case. It then appealed, asking for another hearing to present the testimony of that witness. In effect, they were asking for a second bite at the apple.
Was the appeal granted? If so, did you win?

lucwarm
12-31-2003, 09:01 PM
Originally posted by Khadaji
Was the appeal granted? If so, did you win?

Hehe -- the appeal folks gave the other side another hearing -- their second bite at the apple. However, they did not appear at the later hearing, apparently having decided that they did not wish to present their witness after all. So we won again.

county
12-31-2003, 09:15 PM
In my field, labor and employment (union), it means that an individual may not pursue two different appeal/grievance processes on the same issue.

For example, an employee who is fired may not file a complaint through the EEO process and pursue a separate grievance over the issue at the same time. The individual must select a (one) forum as the means to seek relief.

Only one bite of the apple.

moriah
12-31-2003, 11:48 PM
Here's the literal part of the saying: In the first bite of the apple, you have not eaten enough to be considered responsible for having to pay for the entire apple. The first bite can be considered a freebie, or a taste, or an accident. But with that first bite comes the warning that a second bite means you've got to buy the whole apple -- you're now responsible for the whole thing.

Application of the analogy: You're a business owner and there's an uneven walkway around your shop that was caused by this past winter's bad weather. A customer trips on it and sues you. The judge gives you a first bite of the apple. You're not responsible for a brand new fault in your walkway. You're not negligent.

However, now that you're aware of its hazard, you're now obligated to fix it. If you don't, you're not given a second bite of the apple.

Peace.

Alan Smithee
01-01-2004, 02:37 AM
Huh? One bite isn't enough to be considered to be responsible for having to pay for the apple? What law is this based on? I always assumed without ever thinking about it that it was a reference to bobbing for apples (especially in the variation where the apple is hung from a string instead of floated in a bucket). It always seemed like a natural metaphore to me. One turn (if you are taking turns to see who gets the apple in the fewest number of bites) would consist of trying to take a single bite at the apple. Taking a second bite was taking a second turn unfairly. It is "second bite at the apple," right?

Mangetout
01-01-2004, 05:23 AM
Originally posted by Trillionaire
I've always heard it expressed as "two bites of the cherry" which, I think, is slightly more descriptive. I thought that meant something quite different:
Two bites of the cherry - to employ more elaborate and lengthy methods than are reasonably necessary.
Two bites of the apple - to get more than you might be expected to.

kmg365
01-01-2004, 05:48 AM
Originally posted by county
The individual must select a (one) forum as the means to seek relief.

Only one bite of the apple.

This was the meaning I was looking for. Thanks county. It reminds me of the stock response I always used to get from our staff attorneys when I worked as an employment discrimination investigator for a State Human Rights agency.

We'd use the expression whenever we had to explain why a complainant couldn't file an identical charge with a State Human Rights agency and the EEOC. "You can't have two bites of the apple!" we always used to say.

I never knew what this actually meant though, but I always guessed it meant they a Complainant couldn't get double duty or remedies on a complaint filed in two different administrative venues. It's either one or the other.