Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #5-8

Published June 30, 2006

Take Me out to the Frivolous Lawsuit Game

An Altoona, Pennsylvania Double-A baseball team is holding a “Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night” on July 2. The event was inspired by lawsuits for sex discrimination filed by men against the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angels when the teams gave promotional items only to women on Mother’s Day. The Altoona team will award pink tote bags to the first 137 men over 18 who attend, lukewarm coffee to the first 137 women over 18 “so they won’t burn themselves,” and beach balls to the first 137 children “with a warning not to ingest it.” “We realize that these giveaways as part of our Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night are fairly stupid and serve no real purpose,” said Curve General Manager Todd Parnell. “But if our fans don’t like them, then they can sue us!” From the San Jose Mercury News) and

What’s Next: Obesity and Tobacco Suits?

UK police in Gloucester arrested an alleged car thief after he spent 20 hours pummeling 60 policemen with bricks from a rooftop to which he escaped after a police chase. After he finally gave himself up and was arrested, he demanded various creature comforts, including a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and cigarettes. According to a police spokesman, his demands were met. “Although he’s a nuisance, we still have to look after his well-being and human rights.” If police think he’s a nuisance now, wait until he gains weight and sues them for obesity or gets lung cancer and sues them for negligence and failure to warn. From the UK Daily Telegraph

So Much for Limited Federal Government

Everybody knows the federal government’s powers are limited to those enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, such as providing for a common defense, regulating interstate commerce and so forth, with all other powers reserved to the state, right? So what was the constitutional justification for the U.S. House of Representatives’ 349-24 vote to enact legislation to require local first responders to such emergencies as Hurricane Katrina to plan for saving and servicing pets? And what is the constitutional basis for a similar bill now pending in the U.S. Senate? From the New York Times and

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

A woman was awarded $2.1 million for psychological damages when a Beverly Hills matchmaker failed to get her dates with “a cultured gentleman” worth “at least $20 million.”

In 2002, the 60-year-old widow paid the service $50,000 as an initial fee, $25,000 to be polished on her dating skills, and $50,000 for a “money-back guarantee” that she would be introduced to men with estates up to $50 billion.

The Los Angeles Times reports the matchmaker’s Web site claims her clients include “the elite, wealthy, famous and professional scattered around the globe.” The widow claimed she was assured she would be matched with “extremely successful and highly educated, charismatic, kind, down-to-earth romantics who enjoy a life of fine dining, traveling and leisure” who were “focused on having a monogamous relationship” and “earn way above $1 million per year and have an estate of up to $20 million,” according to the Times.

This never happened, according to the widow. Her lawyer justified the verdict on the grounds of “the loneliness that befalls” older widows. From the Los Angeles Times

Lawyers Ordered to Play Games

Those who contend lawyers too often engage in gamesmanship with one another were vindicated recently by a federal district court judge in Florida.

Two lawyers who could not agree on the location for a deposition were ordered to resolve the dispute by one game of “rock, paper, scissors.” The winner would be entitled to select the location for the deposition. The judge termed his ruling “a new form of alternative dispute resolution.”

Under the ruling, the losing side can, of course, appeal to the judge. From Fortune magazine and Avista Management, Inc. v. Wausau Underwriters Insurance Company, (M.D. Fla. 2006)

Buddy, Can You Spare $5 Million?

A New Jersey homeless man has found an innovative way to raise a few–make that a few million–bucks. In 1991, the man won $230,000 from the Morristown New Jersey public library after it ejected him because of his overwhelming body odor. Now he has sued the New Jersey Transit authority, city of Summit, and others for $5 million for the same reason. Even the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents him, says he is “driven, difficult” and manipulative. From New Jersey for Change

Can’t They Be Potty-Trained?

Vienna, Austria and Charleston, South Carolina have proposed requiring horses who pull tourist carriages to wear diapers. Rosarito Beach, California already requires manure catchers and Chicago may be next. Rosarito officials estimate that during a workday, a horse can leave about 33 pounds of manure, and some local residents are concerned about health risks.

Animal rights protestors object to the diapers, saying they inflict “unnecessary suffering on the animals,” according to the BBC. From http://www.oldsouth, BBC World News, San Diego Union Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times

The Food Police May Have it Wrong

School districts that ban sugary treats, vending machines, and even birthday cupcakes may be doing more harm than good, according to New York Times columnist Harriet Brown, who questions virtually every underlying justification for such bans.

First, she debunks the existence of an “obesity epidemic” that is causing increased mortality. As she notes and as was reported last year in Health Care News, death rates from obesity increase only for the morbidly obese.

Brown also calls “shaky” reports that Type 2 diabetes (non-genetic and usually associated with being over-weight) among children is increasing. She notes an American Diabetes Association report last year found that a third of the children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes were found to actually have genetically caused Type 1 diabetes. She also cites a Cincinnati-area study finding that instances of Type 2 diabetes among teenagers rose from 7 per 100,000 teens in 1982 to 7.2 per 100,000 teens in 1994–not exactly an epidemic.

Brown thinks Ellyn Satter, a nationally recognized nutrition expert, has it right. “Avoid either extreme of forbidding snack-type food or letting children graze on them,” Satter says. From the New York Times

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
Editors: Maureen Martin, Diane Carol Bast

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

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