Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #6-10

Published August 10, 2007

Gimme an ‘S’ … Gimme a ‘U’ … Gimme an ‘E’

A Yorktown, Texas family whose daughter failed her cheerleading tryout for the junior varsity squad will be suing the local school district because the girl was deprived of her “childhood dream” of being a cheerleader. She was one of seven girls who tried out for six positions and she didn’t make the cut.

The suit alleges the district should have expanded the squad rather than cutting her, as it did when it allowed nine girls to be on the eight-member varsity squad. According to the district, though, that happened on the varsity squad only because the cheerleading sponsor mistakenly believed only eight girls had applied and ruled no tryouts would be held.

No such mistake took place with the junior varsity cheerleaders, and the school superintendent decreed no expansion would occur. No “satisfactory explanation as to why [the girl] was singled out” was offered, the family’s lawyer told the Victoria Advocate. “We have no other option but to move forward with the lawsuit.”

Source: Sonny Long, “Cheerleader’s family to sue school district,” Victoria Advocate, July 12, 2007; Valerie Ninemire, “Didn’t Make the Cheerleading Squad? Then, Hire a Lawyer,”

Thanks a Million

A Washington state oral surgeon’s recovery of $1 million in damages from his malpractice insurance carrier was upheld last month by the Washington Supreme Court (July 27, 2007). The damages arose from the carrier’s failure to defend him in a case arising from a practical joke he played on his employee/dental patient.

The employee’s family raised pot-bellied pigs, and the oral surgeon was a boar hunter. While the assistant was under general anesthesia to receive dental implants, the opinion states, the oral surgeon prepared a pair of fake boar tusks, placed them in her mouth, and photographed her. The assistant sued and won a settlement of $250,000 for outrage, battery, invasion of privacy, false light, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, among other things.

The surgeon then sued his insurance carrier for bad-faith denial of coverage for his attorney fees. He won in the verdict upheld by the state supreme court. But there was a vigorous dissent, which said, “The majority’s reward of Dr. Woo’s unethical and intentional behavior will likely be perceived as an abuse of the tort system.” More like standard operating procedure, unfortunately.

Source: Woo v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, 2007 Wash. LEXIS 555 (2007)

Can’t Read, But Can Sue

Is a school district asking too much when it requires its employees to read at least at a third-grade level?

Yes, according to the illiterate supervisor of a St. Louis area school district grounds maintenance crew. The man failed to take the district up on its offer to get him reading instruction on the job, at district expense and at a class of his choice. He was then fired for not attending classes in which he enrolled. He is suing under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The man alleges the school violated the ADA because he could have performed his job with “a reasonable accommodation” such as being given verbal instructions instead of written ones. The district believes his illiteracy endangers him and others. “If you’re in a position where you are involved with chemicals like pesticides and operating mechanical equipment, you have to be able to read warnings and signs and instructions,” the school board president said. “If you can’t, you put lives in danger.”

Source: Paul Hampel, “Grounds chief fired for illiteracy sues Normandy schools,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 12, 2007

Try Counting Calories, Not Doctors’ Money

It wasn’t about the money, says Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis, who sued his gastric bypass surgeons for medical malpractice and lost late last month, the Boston Globe reported.

Weis alleged the surgeons waited too long to do a second surgery after internal bleeding began after the first operation. The doctors said they were reluctant to do the second operation because it might have caused a pulmonary embolism in Weis, who weighed 350 pounds and had a family history of heart disease, the Associated Press reported. The jury found the doctors had not committed malpractice. Weis lost 100 pounds after the surgery.

Weis said he thought about dropping the case after an earlier mistrial but didn’t, the Boston Globe reported. “We decided that for all people who are frowned upon by prejudice or bias, we had to take this case to closure,” he said. He said he would have donated damages if he had recovered them to help people with “special needs.” Sounds like somebody has a special need for perspective.

Sources: David Abel, “Weis won’t appeal jury’s verdict–Ex-Pats assistant says he’ll ‘move on,'” Boston Globe, July 27, 2007; Associated Press, “Jury finds against Charlie Weis in malpractice lawsuit,” July 24, 2007

Grave Imposition

Two Australian men of Asian origin are suing a cemetery, alleging it created bad “feng shui” at their family’s gravesites. The Asian section of the cemetery where the gravesites were located includes a lake, a temple, and a statue of Buddha. It was designed, according to the cemetery Web site, “in accordance with feng shui principles,” described as “the ancient Chinese art of channeling the flow of positive energy, or ‘chi,’ through building design.”

After the men purchased the gravesites, the suit alleges, the cemetery constructed a large new mausoleum in front of them. An expert told the paper bad feng shui will limit “the prosperity and happiness of future generations.” No mention of what bad lawsuits will do to their positive energy.

Source: “The death of feng shui? Let the courts decide,” The Age (Australia), July 15, 2007

At Least He Didn’t Hit Anything She Uses …

A suburban Chicago woman who was struck in the head by a misdirected golf ball is suing the golfer for $100,000 in damages, alleging he “failed to properly aim and execute his swing.” She is also suing the golf course owner, alleging the course was negligently designed.

The injury, not described in her court papers, allegedly occurred while she was gardening in her yard, adjacent to the golf course. The golfer’s attorney said the golfer yelled “Fore,” a warning that a golf ball may be heading toward spectators. He also noted there were about 15 golf balls in her yard. The golf course said it was investigating.

Source: Steve Schmadeke, “Woman says golf ball hit her, sues course, golfer–West Chicago home next to country club,” Chicago Tribune, July 27, 2007

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:

The Heartland Institute
19 South La Salle Street #903
Chicago, Illinois 60603