Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #6-11

Published August 31, 2007

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

For a Houston man, saying it with flowers will probably cost him a bundle. So he’s trying to grab a bundle from the florist.

The man had the florist send his sweetie long- stemmed roses and a stuffed animal along with a mushy note. Problem was, he was still married to another woman at the time; a divorce was in the works but not final.

After receiving a thank-you note and a discount coupon in the mail, the man’s wife contacted the florist, who faxed her a copy of the receipt and the love note. The man claims in his suit what had been an amicable divorce proceeding may cost him more money because his wife can use this evidence of his alleged infidelity against him. He’s seeking $1 million in damages from the florist for these costs and mental anguish.

University of Houston law professor Richard Alderman said, “I’m a big consumer advocate, but in this case I’d have to go with caveat emptor”–let the buyer beware. The man’s lawyer disagrees. “We didn’t file this frivolously,” she said. Of course not.

Source: Mary Flood, “Lawsuit: Floral flub made life thornier for man in love triangle, Man seeking divorce says he’ll pay dearly for love note mix-up,” Houston Chronicle, August 13, 2007

Look Before You Eat

A West Virginia man is suing McDonald’s for $10 million because he got cheese on his Quarter Pounder, contrary to his request.

The suit alleges the man is allergic to cheese and suffered severe damages when he ate it. He claims he ordered his hamburger without any cheese, and “took multiple preventive steps to assure his food did not contain cheese,” according to the suit.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal noted: “So apparently the ‘multiple preventive steps’ he took ‘to assure his food did not contain cheese’ did not include looking at the damn sandwich before eating it!”

Sources: Cara Bailey, “Man allergic to cheese seeks $10 million from McDonald’s,” West Virginia Record, August 8, 2007; James Taranto, Best of the Web,, August 9, 2007

Reputation Took a Beating

A failed political candidate is suing her ex-father-in-law for $2 million in damages, claiming his call to 911 kept her from being elected to the U.S. Congress.

The candidate’s father-in-law made the call at the request of her husband, and it resulted in both the husband and wife being jailed on domestic abuse charges. The father-in-law told 911 responders the woman was violent and had a history of alcohol abuse. Because of these comments, the woman alleges she “suffered injury to her reputation and was exposed to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame and disgrace.” She also claims the comments cost her a political career and hurt her job as a veterinarian.

She is seeking damages for lost Congressional wages, time spent campaigning, and $1.5 million in punitive damages. Her campaign loss had nothing to do with the domestic abuse, of course.

Source: Jessica Wehrman, “Congress candidate sues over 911 call,” Dayton Daily News, August 7, 2007

Support Your Local Lawyer

Several bar associations around the country are trying to change the public perception of lawyers as “more interested in making money than in serving their clients,” among other things, an American Bar Association survey noted.

The Pennsylvania and Wisconsin state bar associations are running advertisements touting how lawyers help their clients. The Pennsylvania bar head says lawyers are “easy targets” after lawsuits such as the McDonald’s hot coffee case. “People saw that as frivolous. And then all of a sudden, people jump on the bandwagon and say the root of the problem is the lawyers,” he said.

The head of the Allegheny County bar sees another side of the situation. “One thing that’s really true is that people love to poke fun at lawyers, but the minute they are in trouble, they turn to lawyers and they trust them,” he said.

Source: Joyce Gannon, “Did you hear the one about the lawyer?” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 8, 2007

Putting Whales First

The U.S. Navy has been temporarily barred by a federal court from using “mid-frequency active sonar” to detect diesel submarines in practice exercises off the California coast.

The ruling came in a suit by environmentalists claiming the sonar injures vulnerable marine mammals, even though the judge found there was no evidence–or conflicting evidence she couldn’t evaluate–regarding such injuries … or even the presence of whales at all.

But the “lack of documented evidence of the disturbance, injury, or even death of marine mammals in a particular geographic area does little to prove that MFA sonar never caused such adverse effects,” the judge concluded.

The Navy plans to appeal. “Today, dozens of countries–including North Korea and Iran–have extremely quiet diesel-electric submarines, and more than 180 of them operate in the Pacific,” said Vice Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet. “Active sonar is the best system we have to detect and track them.” Apparently, real submarines are not as important as imaginary whales.

Sources: Kenneth R. Weiss, “Judge bans Navy from using sonar off Southern California, Federal jurist backs activists, saying use during training exercises off Southern California could harm whales,” Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2007; Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Winter, 8:07-cv-00335-FMC-FMOx, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57909 (2007)

Aggravating Battery

The Apple iPhone debuted to rave reviews last month–especially from the trial lawyers.

A few days after the phone debuted, the company was sued for consumer fraud and monetary damages in a class-action lawsuit.

The suit was brought by a Chicago man who says he is unhappy with battery replacement arrangements. It costs $79 plus shipping for battery replacement, and the phone must be shipped to Apple. The New York State Consumer Protection Board told Apple in a letter the $79 cost is too much. Does the Board know something about Apple’s production costs Apple doesn’t?

Source: “Lawsuit filed in Chicago over iPhone battery,” Bloomberg News, August 1, 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