Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #10-6

Published March 21, 2011

A Florida paramedic is being sued by an auto accident victim who says she stole his foot after it was severed in an accident.

The paramedic was convicted of the crime and sentenced to six months probation for theft. The accident victim is now suing her for unspecified damages for emotional distress.

The paramedic had a good excuse–sort of. She works with body-recovery dogs and took the foot to help train her dog. She called it “an unrecognizable mass of flesh” not resembling a foot and not likely able to be reattached by doctors.

Source: Kevin Underhill, “Florida Man Sues Alleged Foot-Stealer,” Lowering the Bar, March 10, 2011

Test Anxiety

The mother of a four-year-old is suing her daughter’s Manhattan preschool for its alleged failure to educate the child well enough to get into an Ivy League college.

As part of the process, the suit asserts, the poor kid has to do very well on an intelligence test called the E.R.B. Only a high score will get her admitted to a competitive, elite private school. “It is no secret that getting a child into the Ivy League starts in nursery school,” the suit alleges.

The mother complained her daughter was placed in a room with two-year-olds who were learning shapes and colors. “The school proved to be not a school at all, but just one big playroom,” the suit claimed. The damages sought were not specified.

Jenny Anderson, “Suit Faults Test Preparation at Preschool, ” New York Times, March 14, 2011

Car Trouble

This one started in 2003 when a $750,000 Ferrari was stolen from a dealership in Pennsylvania. The dealer submitted a claim to its insurance company, which paid it. The insurer then owned the car.

Five years later the Federal Bureau of Investigation found the sports car and put it in storage, meaning federal detention. During that time, a federal prosecutor took the car for a “short ride” and crashed it into a tree.

The insurance company has submitted numerous claims to the FBI and the Justice Department for $750,000, plus claims for documents relating to the accident, all of which have been denied.

None of this is disputed by the government, but it still refuses to pay the insurance company for the vehicle it destroyed. The insurance company had no choice but to file a suit, which should be a slam dunk. “Needless to say we need to see the suit and make a determination on how we’d respond in court,” the Justice Department stated. It’s hard to imagine what credible response the government has. Lawsuit abuse usually occurs on the part of plaintiffs who file frivolous cases, but this one illustrates there is such a thing as a frivolous defense.

Source: Robert Snell, “Insurer sues FBI for crashing Ferrari,” Detroit News, February 24, 2011

Wrong Number

A New Jersey woman is suing a local television station, the American Broadcasting Company, and Walt Disney Co. for “negligently, carelessly, recklessly and/or intentionally” reporting the wrong lottery numbers.

She thought she’d won the $250,000 jackpot, but no such luck. She was “severely damaged” by the broadcast, which she said was “beyond all possible bounds of decency” and “atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”

Source: “Woman Who Thought She Won Lottery Sues TV Station for Airing Wrong Numbers,” Fox News, February 27, 2011 via, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform

Coffee Clutch

The family of a Starbucks customer who died trying to defend the baristas’ tip jar has filed a wrongful death case against the coffeehouse chain. The 54-year-old customer, of suburban St. Louis, saw a teenager grab the jar and run from the store. The customer gave chase. The teen jumped in his car and drove off, running over the customer, who later died.

The suit alleges Starbucks “invited the act of perpetration” of the crime and should have employed security to prevent it. Starbucks also failed to “exercise reasonable care” to protect the customer and did not warn him against harm, according to the suit.

The tip jar contained $5.00.

Source: Valerie Schremp Hahn, “Estate of man sues Starbucks over death,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 9, 2011

It’s All Fun Until Somebody Gets Pecked

Three New Jersey high school seniors are facing suspension from school, bans from the graduation ceremony and the prom, and criminal charges for releasing several live chickens into the school building as a senior prank.

The students released the chickens through a window at the school in the middle of the night. A janitor found them before school started.

“It’s not fun anymore. No one knows how to have a good laugh,” one of the students said. Police weren’t laughing because they say a student could have been hurt. One of the students is 18, so he’s facing a $1,000 fine and six months in prison for the prank.

Source: CBSNewYork, “Live Chicken Prank Lands 3 N.J. Students In The Coop,” March 14, 2011

Dysfunctional Negotiation Tactic

Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly reported earlier this year (“Hard Bargaining,” issue 10-3) about Milwaukee public school teachers filing a lawsuit against the school system because it failed to pay for Viagra in the teachers’ health insurance plan.

The school system already faces millions of dollars in budget deficits. As teachers and other state workers in Wisconsin went wild in past weeks over possibly having to contribute toward their health insurance premiums under Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, Walker issued a press release noting that dropping Viagra coverage had saved Milwaukee taxpayers $786,000.

Because the lawsuit alleged the school system was violating the rights of male teachers to erectile dysfunction drugs, it quickly became “a public relations nightmare” for Wisconsin teachers claiming they also had a “right” to collective bargaining, according to a group monitoring school spending.

Word came last week the union has dropped the lawsuit.

Source:, “Gov. Walker: Collective bargaining is a fiscal issue,” February 21, 2011; Ben [sic], “Milwaukee teachers unions defunct Viagra lawsuit a reminder of collective bargaining excesses,”, March 8, 2011; Associated Press, “Milwaukee teachers drop Viagra suit,” March 7, 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
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Chicago, Illinois 60603