Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #10-12

Published June 13, 2011

A Detroit-based law firm requires its female employees to wear high-heeled shoes. That alone ought to be enough to make headlines.

But now it turns out one female employee, the executive assistant to the firm’s vice chairman, caught her high heel in the carpet at work and severely injured her back. The firm resisted her claims for accommodation of her injury.

After several leaves of absence, the firm fired her and she filed suit, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, gender discrimination, retaliatory discharge, and other theories. The firm recently settled the lawsuit on undisclosed terms. Sometimes, defending filed lawsuits is itself frivolous. This looks like such a case.

Source: Martha Neil, “Honigman Settles with Ex-Assistant Who Said She Injured Her Back While Wearing Required High Heels,” American Bar Association Journal, June 2, 2011; Debra Cassens Weiss, “Law Firm Accused of Being ‘Mad Men’ Throwback–Requiring Heels, Then Discriminating After Injury,” American Bar Association Journal, October 18, 2010

Race Discrimination

Two bar owners in Iowa have been arrested for allowing criminal activity in their tavern. No, not prostitution or underage drinking: illegal gambling over mouse racing.

“Mouse racing is entertainment, entertainment for family, friends, and it’s something to do on a Sunday afternoon,” said one of the owners of the Bucktail Lodge. “It was to make some money for the bar and have some fun,” said the other owner.

But it is technically illegal. Iowa officials also allege there are health violations, but the bar owners deny any such violations have taken place.

Source: Kristy Mergenthal, “Iowa bar owners ticketed over illegal mouse racing,” WQAD, May 25, 2011

Name in Vain

The International House of Pancakes, known as IHOP, has filed a lawsuit against the International House of Prayer, also known as IHOP, alleging there is confusion between the two.

“Several persons have either been confused by House of Prayer’s use of ‘IHOP’ or felt the need to clarify whether the ‘IHOP’ reference was to House of Prayer Kansas City or plaintiffs,” the suit alleges.

Source: Mark Morris, “IHOP (the restaurant) files new lawsuit against IHOP (the ministry),” Kansas City Star, June 1, 2011

Well, at Least She Has One Case …

A graduate of a California law school has filed a class-action lawsuit against the school alleging it defrauded her and other students when the school reported 80 percent of its graduates “were employed after nine months.”

The unemployed lawyer, who graduated with honors from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and passed the California bar exam, alleges she was induced to enroll because of the 80 percent statistic it reported to U.S. News & World Report. She interpreted the figure to mean she could get a legal job after graduation but now alleges the information was “false” and “misleading.” She wants to be reimbursed the $150,000 she spent on tuition.

“For more than 15 years, TJSL has churned out graduates, many of whom have little or no hope of working as attorneys at any point in their careers,” she alleges.

As it turned out, the 80 percent number includes those in all jobs, even part-time ones and non-legal ones. A study of TJLS employment data indicates only about 58 percent of its graduates found law jobs. This type of employment reporting is “nearly universal” among law schools, the study reports.

Source: Karen Sloan, “Law school sued over ‘false’ employment statistics,” The National Law Journal, May 27, 2011 via Wall Street Journal Law Blog

Side Job

An Illinois lawyer allegedly has been supplementing her income by prostitution. She was arrested recently on such charges.

The lawyer admits she was a prostitute before she graduated from law school, but sort of denies doing so afterwards, according to her Web site. “I have many clients who walk through my doors telling me they did not do it. I am one of those who believe what my clients tell me, and I aggressively defend them in court. I will now be doing the same thing for myself.”

Source: “Sycamore attorney faces prostitution charges,” Daily Chronicle (DeKalb), June 1, 2011 via Jonathan Turley

Once Again into the Breach

As Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly reported in March (issue no. 10-6), the Milwaukee teachers union dropped its lawsuit against the city’s school district claiming union members were entitled to erectile dysfunction drugs, including Viagra, under their district-paid health insurance coverage. A happy ending, everyone thought. Not so.

Last month, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development, through its Equal Rights Division, found “probable cause” existed for a Milwaukee teacher’s claim of discrimination for the school district’s denial of coverage for the drug. His case is proceeding.

Source: “Claims of Discrimination By MPS Pop Up Again in ED Drug Case,” MacIver News Service, June 6, 2011

Flower Power

A rose is being blamed for $15,000 in damages claimed by a Florida man.

He says he suffered “pain, disfigurement, medical bills and lost wages” after he pricked his finger on the thorn on a rose he purchased from a Winn-Dixie store in Orlando. The wound became infected, he alleges. He also sued the flower grower, Passion Growers LLC.

The grower says it sterilizes all of the flowers it sells. “We’ve been doing this 20 years,” the company founder said. “We’ve never, never had anything like this where anyone has gotten an infection by a thorn prick.”

Source: “Suit seeks $15,000 for rose thorn prick,” United Press International, May 26, 2011 via facesoflawsuitabuse, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform

Serial Litigator

Is a wheel-chair bound double amputee a champion of the disabled or an avaricious bounty hunter?

The Brooklyn man files one lawsuit per day under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, typically alleging he has been injured because a business has denied him access. He then often relates “precise descriptions of alleged violations inside, including bars that are inches too high, condiments that are out of reach, and bathroom towels inaccessible to a wheelchair user,” according to the New York Post.

For each case he wins, usually through settlements, he receives $500 in damages, plus his attorney’s fees are paid.

Among his targets, a pedicure station at a New York City spa, “even though he has no feet,” the paper said.

“It’s ingenious,” said one lawyer. Target businesses have little choice but to settle quickly, he said. “It’s really just extortion,” said one restaurant owner who says she can’t afford the legal fees to fight the case against her. Wheelchair-bound patrons are helped up the two steps to her restaurant.

Source: Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, “Brooklyn amputee’s sue spree against businesses that aren’t handicapped accessible,” New York Post, June 5, 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