Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #10-7

Published April 4, 2011

An Iowa attorney who allegedly served his female client four “cocktails” during their meeting to discus her drunken driving conviction has been charged for assaulting her with intent to commit sexual abuse.

The woman had received probation on a 2010 charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and was discussing this with him. During the meeting, she told police, he served her four drinks. She recalled finding herself on his lap, but couldn’t remember how she got there. She asked to leave and evidently got home but doesn’t remember how she got there. Video cameras at her apartment complex revealed a car matching the lawyer’s vehicle dropped her off. The lawyer denies the charges.

Source: Luke Jennett, “Ames lawyer arrested,” Ames (Iowa) Tribune, March 20, 2011 via ABA Journal

Headed for Trouble

A Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Board has awarded benefits to a woman for emotional injuries she suffered due to a prank by her boss.

After she asked him for health insurance coverage, her boss told her she could have it if she agreed to wear a chicken-head mask. Testimony before the board established the mask was used often in pranks by her “fun-loving” colleagues.

As an alternative to wearing the mask, she was told she could get coverage by telling her friends by e-mail her boss was a “god.” Or she could wear red lipstick and “kiss … [her boss’s] bald head all over.”

The employee said these comments depressed her and caused her emotional distress. Her psychiatrist agreed. She stopped working and sought workers’ compensation for a work-related injury. Initially, benefits were denied, but the board later awarded them.

Source: Capello v. DTR Advertising, Inc., Board No. 026109-07 (Mass. Dep’t of Indus. Accidents Mar. 23, 2011) via Lowering the Bar

Gain But No Pain

A woman struck by a bag of tissue paper has settled her lawsuit for $535,000.

The accident occurred in Anaheim, California after an office cleaner tossed the bag, weighing three to five pounds, down a stairwell in the building where the woman worked.

The woman claimed the bag hit her in the head and aggravated an existing neck injury. She stopped working and moved to Hawaii.

Source: Associated Press, “Woman Settles Calif. Trash Injury Suit for $535K,” March 23, 2011 via Faces of Lawsuit Abuse, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform

Foreclosing Options

In an issue of Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly earlier this year, we told you how President Barack Obama is helping create more business for lawyers by, among other things, referring homeowners who contact the federal government about mortgage foreclosure complaints to American Bar Association lawyers for representation.

Now the New York state court system is getting into the act. But while lawyers under the Obama-ABA plan would be paid out of funds they recover from lenders, taxpayers in New York state would be stuck with the bill for legal fees.

It will cost taxpayers $100 million, but every person in a mortgage foreclosure action will have a state-paid lawyer. Backers of the program concede the program will slow down foreclosure proceedings. In the past, borrowers in default usually would abandon their houses, enabling lenders to take title to them quickly. Now that won’t happen. Also, the mandatory settlement conferences involved in the program are likely to drag things out even further.

Source: David Streitfeld, “New York Courts Vow Legal Aid in Housing,” New York Times, February 15, 2011 via Overlawyered: Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #10-5, March 2011 (“No Lawyer Left Unemployed”)

Cruise Blues

A lawsuit filed by an Indiana woman who claims she was injured because a Carnival cruise ship was going too fast is now set to proceed, but it must go forward in Florida courts.

An Indiana trial court had ruled the case could go forward in Indiana, but the Indiana Appellate Court reversed. The cruise contract specified lawsuits must be filed in Florida.

The woman, a cruise ship passenger, alleged “due to the speed of the ship I became very sick … the ship was moving so fast everyone on board became sick, even the workers.”

Source: Gene Sloan, “Woman suing Carnival: Ship sailed too fast, made me sick,” USA Today, March 22, 2011

Justice Within a Decade, or Your Money Back

Federal Express was the victor in a class-action lawsuit in Madison County, Illinois. It took the company 10 years to win.

FedEx was sued by the named plaintiff in a case who claimed an overnight package addressed to him was not delivered overnight. His suit was filed as a class action on behalf of all others similarly situated. But it turned out he was unable to prove he had not received the package overnight.

FedEx guarantees customers their money back if a package is not delivered overnight if the customer provides notice of delivery failure within 30 days of the late delivery. The court held this was the exclusive remedy.

Source: “Ten years wasted on frivolous lawsuit,” Madison-St. Clair, April 2, 2011

Paying for Protection

If you hear a noise that sounds like an intruder is in your building, do nothing.

At least, do nothing if you live in New Jersey. A financial planner there was meeting with a client, when they heard a noise in the building. The financial planner ran to a nearby friend’s home and asked him to help. The friend went back to the planner’s building and was shot and killed.

The friend’s estate sued the financial planner, alleging he “knew or should have known [asking for help] would expose [the friend] to risk of injury.” The New Jersey trial court dismissed the case, but the appellate court reversed, holding the financial planner had a duty to warn the friend of the dangers before asking for help.

Source: AnnMarie McDonald, “Honey, did you hear that?” Lawsuit Reform Watch, March 21, 2011 via Overlawyered

Sticky Situation

A $50,000 lawsuit is now pending against Adidas North America, filed by an Illinois woman who claims she fell because her Adidas shoes “stuck together.” She claims she suffered cuts and bruises due to a “tripping hazard that Adidas failed to warn her about.”

Source: Michael Lansu, “Woman sues Adidas: tripped and fell in new Midiru shoes,” Chicago Sun-Times, March 24, 2011 via Faces of Lawsuit Abuse, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Legal Reform

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