Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #10-11

Published May 31, 2011

Cops in the Los Angeles Police Department lead the nation in one important statistic. It’s not fighting crime or capturing criminals; it’s suing the department for millions of dollars in damages over “workplace injustice.”

In the past ten years at least 16 police officers have become millionaires by recovering verdicts or settlements. Many other officers have recovered five- or six-figure amounts. A survey of police departments in large cities puts L.A. at the top of the list. Police officers in L.A. file three times as many lawsuits as those in Chicago and about a third more than in Boston.

The claims have involved “snide comments,” “racial slurs,” false accusations, sexual harassment, and retaliatory actions.

Some officials argue more suits are filed there because the city settles too easily. “If you settle, all you’re doing is encouraging other officers to file more lawsuits,” said a department official. “It sends the message that the city is just giving away money – that an officer just has to make a claim and they’ll walk away with some money in their pocket. The only way to stop that is to take them to court and fight them.”

Others say the cases are difficult to fight because they are often emotional and involve individual perceptions. One lawyer says he was ready to settle three cases for a total of $2 million, but the city fought them. He recovered about $9.5 million.

Source: Joel Rubin, “Flood of lawsuits by LAPD officers costs the city millions,” Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2011

Fish Tales

The Texas state Senate sent a bill to Gov. Rick Perry making it a crime to lie about the size of a fish caught during an angling tournament.

The bill makes it a misdemeanor, or in extreme situations, a felony, to exaggerate the size, weight, or origin of a fish caught. The Senate passed the bill unanimously.

The sponsor said he was just trying to address bass fishing tournament cheating. Some tournaments offer tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.

One fishing guide said cheating had increased in these hard economic times. Another said it’s okay when recreational fishermen tell tall tales about the one that got away. “Everybody is just telling stories; that’s fishing,” he said. “But to cheat, that’s another thing. That’s just not right.”

Source: Erica Goode, “Texas Passes Bill to Make Some Fish Tales a Crime,” New York Times, May 11, 2011 via Jonathan Turley

Gamblin’ Ma’am

The Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain says a San Diego mother who sued the company has “unclean hands.”

No, the company, CEC Entertainment Inc., doesn’t mean she didn’t wash her hands before eating. It means she’s barred from suing the chain for conduct she alleges is illegal because she engaged in it herself.

It’s an interesting turnabout-is-fair-play hardball litigation tactic. The mother filed a class-action lawsuit in a California federal court alleging the video games her children often played in a CEC restaurant are actually illegal gambling devices, barred under California law. California law exempts games of skill, but her suit alleges the CEC games are mostly based on chance, dispensing tickets redeemable for prizes. They promote addictive behavior, the suit alleges, because they “create the same highs and lows experienced by adults who gamble their paychecks or the mortgage payment.”

CEC responded first that there is nothing illegal about the games in their restaurants. But if they are illegal, CEC says, the mother engaged in illegal conduct by letting her children repeatedly play them.

The mother claims the lawsuit is not about the money–she just wants to get the machines out of the restaurants. But she claims $5 million in damages.

Source: Dana Littlefield, “Chuck E. Cheese’s sued for tot ‘slots,'” San Diego Union-Tribune, May 8, 2011 via above the law


A Chicago car dealer on trial for allegedly selling a defective vehicle to the plaintiff is complaining about the tactics engaged in by the plaintiff’s lawyer.

The car dealer, called fittingly Exotic Motors, says the plaintiff’s lawyer has a “large breasted” woman sitting next to him at the counsel’s table in court for the purpose of distracting the jury. The dealer wants the woman ejected from the table, near the jury box, and relegated to the gallery.

The plaintiff’s lawyer says the woman is a paralegal there to assist him. He claims the motion to exclude her is frivolous and wants his costs. No ruling yet.

Source: Anna North, “Lawyer Objects to ‘Large Breasted Woman’ in Courtroom,” Motion to Dismiss at, May 20, 2011

A Judge’s Opinion

It really was a straightforward case. A Wisconsin man, 71, a former bus driver, pled no contest to criminal charges of sexually assaulting several young boys. All the judge had to do was sentence him, which he did – eventually – to seven years in prison.

But in the process, the man claimed to be heterosexual. The judge didn’t buy that. He told the defendant:

  • “I think that if anyone believes that in the last 10 years or 15 years all of a sudden you developed an interest in homosexuality and young boys, then I must have looked ravishing in my prom dress this year.”
  • “I think you were born gayer than a sweet-smelling jockstrap.”
  • “No one knew there was a closet to come out of in those days. You know you had to be very careful, because you could have found your penis floating in the Wolf [River] as walleye bait. It was a terrible life to have to live.”

Not surprisingly, the LGBT community was offended. The defendant’s lawyer wasn’t, though, describing the comments merely as “unconventional.”

Source: David Lat, “Judge Calls Defendant ‘Gayer Than a Sweet-Smelling Jock Strap,” May 10, 2011, above the

Punch Drunk

A restaurant manager in Australia was awarded workers’ compensation for an on-the-job injury suffered when he slugged an inebriated customer.

The manager punched the customer in the face, so hard the worker broke his wrist. The customer had been complaining about slow service, resulting because several restaurant workers had failed to show up for work.

The man was fired and the restaurant denied his workers’ comp claim, saying it violated company behavior standards for employees. An Australian judge disagreed, finding it happened “in the course of the employment.”

Source: Kevin Underhill, “Man Gets Workers’ Comp for Injury Sustained When Punching Customer,” lowering the bar, May 16, 2011

Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly

Published by The Heartland Institute (312/377-4000), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1984.
Phone 312/377-4000, fax 312/377-5000
Back issues are available online at
Publisher: Joseph L. Bast
Author: Maureen Martin
Editors: S.T. Karnick, Diane Carol Bast

Information on lawsuit abuse can be found on these Web sites:

The Heartland Institute
19 South La Salle Street #903
Chicago, Illinois 60603