Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #10-8

Published April 18, 2011

You can’t buy Raging Bitch beer in Michigan, where it’s been banned, leading to a federal lawsuit by its brewery alleging First Amendment violations.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission banned the brand, saying it was offended by the name. It also found the beer’s label language “detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare.”

The label reads: “Two inflammatory words … one wild drink. Nectar imprisoned in a bottle. Let it out. It is cruel to keep a wild animal locked up. Uncap it. Release it … stand back!! Wallow in its golden glow in a glass beneath a white foaming head. Remember, enjoying a RAGING BITCH, unleashed, untamed, unbridled–and in heat–is pure GONZO!! It has taken 20 years to get from there to here. Enjoy!”

The publicity from the ban might be the best thing that ever happened to the brand, but the brewery is wrapping itself in the First Amendment flag. “We are so passionate about the First Amendment,” said the brewery’s CEO. “This is just wrong, to suppress the freedom of creative expression” by stifling the “totally innocuous” label language.

Source: Kate Leckie, “Explicit Flying Dog beer label issue comes to a head,” Frederick-News Post, March 30, 2011 via Overlawyered

Cheater Cheated

A Colorado college student has filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau claiming she was cheated by a company from which she ordered a ghostwritten research paper.

She claims the company failed to deliver the paper. She wants a refund. “I ordered it, and they were supposed to have it back to me within four days. I constantly emailed. Nobody replied to me.” She claims to have received a phone call, eventually, informing her she would not receive a refund.

The company guarantees an “A” grade on papers they supply. Law professor Jonathan Turley says that guarantee might support a fraud claim if buyers receive a lesser grade–if they have the nerve to file suit and admit they were trying to cheat.

Source: “Cheating the Cheater: Colorado College Senior Files Complaint Against Company Over Writing Her Term Paper,” Jonathan Turley, March 30, 2011

Hair Ado

A Chicago public school teacher and the public school system that employs her are being sued because the teacher posted photos of the hairstyle of one of her students on Facebook, causing the student “emotional distress.”

The ends of the seven-year-old child’s braids were festooned by her mother with Jolly Rancher candies, which the child requested for school photo day, having seen the hairdo in a magazine.

The teacher allegedly took several photos of the student and posted two of them on the social Web site, with the comment: “And y’all thought I was joking!”

Two of the teacher’s Facebook “friends” posted comments. One said “If you’re going to make your child look ridiculous, the least you can do is have them matching.” The other read: “I laughed so hard that my contact popped out.”

Source: Joel Hood, “Girl’s mom sues teacher over Facebook hairdo flap; Daughter suffered ’emotional distress’ after photos were posted online, suit says,” Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2011

Recording Rights

A New Hampshire man has been charged with wiretapping–a criminal felony–because he telephoned a Libertarian answering service while he had been stopped by police for an unspecified traffic violation. The answering service’s voicemail recorded police in the background during the call.

The driver alleges he was targeted by police who followed him from a Libertarian meeting he had just attended. While stopped, he called the answering service, established for “libertarian activists in trouble with the police.”

Other New Hampshire libertarians were arrested last year, one for videotaping police during a traffic stop and another for using a cell phone in the lobby of a police station.

A New Hampshire law requires both parties to an “oral communication” to consent to its recording. But police in New Hampshire contend the law doesn’t work both ways. They say they can legally videotape traffic stops using cameras on their squad car dashboards, but that persons stopped cannot record them in return.

Some libertarians, and others, argue the New Hampshire law as applied to police traffic stops is unconstitutional, saying such laws typically apply only when the person recorded has a “justified expectation of privacy.” They say police making traffic stops fully in public have no such expectation.

Source: Kevin Underhill, “Man Charged With Wiretapping for Using Phone During Traffic Stop,” Lowering the Bar, April 6, 2011

Once Bitten

A painter hired by a South Carolina nursing home is suing it because he claims a poisonous spider bit him while he was painting there.

The spider “fell from the ceiling and bit him on his right arm,” he alleges. The painter also alleges the nursing home had a duty to provide him with a reasonably safe place to work. He seeks unspecified compensatory damages.

Source: Kyla Asbury, “Spider bite leads to lawsuit,” West Virginia Record, April 5, 2011

Sticky Situation

A $50,000 lawsuit is pending against Adidas North America, filed by an Illinois woman who claims she fell because her Adidas shoes “stuck together.”

She claims she suffered “serious internal and external injuries, including bruises, contusions and lacerations” 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

Lesson in Liberty

A California high school honors student has been threatened with a slander lawsuit for complaining to the school board the grade she received from one of her teachers was unfair.

The lawyer hired by the teachers union made the threat, calling the 18-year-old student’s comments “slander” and threatened a lawsuit if she didn’t stop making them.

Encouraged by her high school principal, the honor student is fighting back. She met with school administrators about eight times before going to the school board. She also hired an advocate, who is asserting the threatened lawsuit violates her First Amendment right to free expression and to petition government for relief.

The teacher disagrees. “My intent was to have this little girl stop dragging my name through the mud,” he said.

Source: J.D. Velasco, “Teacher threatens Bassett student with lawsuit for complaining about grade,” San Gabriel Valley Tribune, March 23, 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