Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #6-15

Published October 26, 2007

All Wet

A Florida policewoman who slipped and fell in a puddle of water while on a 911 call to rescue a baby drowning in a swimming pool has dropped her personal injury lawsuit against the family.

The one-year-old child, who was near death but survived, now lives in a nursing home. He suffered severe brain damage and needs tubes to eat and breathe.

The policewoman alleged the child’s parents and grandparents were negligent and careless when the child was carried into the house and resuscitated, leaving a puddle of water inside the home. The policewoman slipped in the puddle and broke her knee.

Her lawyer said if the family had kept the child out of the swimming pool, the baby would not have been drowning, no water would have been on the floor, a police rescue would not have been necessary, and the officer would not have been injured. The family “caused these problems, brought them on themselves, then tried to play the victim,” her lawyer said.

The boy’s grandfather was angry: “The loss we’ve suffered, and she’s seeking money? Of course there’s going to be water in the house. He was sopping wet when we brought him in.”

The policewoman’s lawyer said it wasn’t enough that her medical expenses and lost wages were paid after the slip and fall. But she dropped her suit after hundreds of residents expressed outrage to city officials. An internal investigation is pending.

Rene Stutzman, “Cop who fell on the job sues family of baby who almost drowned,” Orlando Sentinel, October 10, 2007; Rene Stutzman, “Cop ends slip-and-fall lawsuit as public cries foul,” Orlando Sentinel, October 12, 2007

Rigorous Requirements

A Harvard medical student is two-for-two in her quest for special treatment during her medical licensing examinations.

The National Board of Medical Examiners previously agreed to allow the student to take the exam over a two-day period instead of the standard one day, due to her dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Now, an appellate court judge in Boston has ordered the board to give the student additional break time to pump breast milk for her four-month-old daughter during the exam, a total of 60 minutes in breaks each day instead of the standard 45 minutes.

A Connecticut physician, also female, had another take on the matter in a letter to The Wall Street Journal. Noting the student had failed the exam the first time around, the physician said: “Stop litigating and start studying.”

Source: Peter Lattman, “Judge Grants Breastfeeding Med Student Extra Time,” The Wall Street Journal, 2007/09/26/judge-grants-breastfeeding-med-student-extra-time/, September 26, 2007; Brenda M. Koblick, M.D., “Fire All Your Lawyers, Crack Open the Books,” The Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2007

Judgment Denied

“What should we do, should we send him to hell or to another parish?” an Illinois priest asked his congregation about a parishioner who had complained to him about the poor quality of his sermons.

Now the priest is being sued for defamation, among other things.

At least one previous case involving a similar curse failed, that one in New Mexico. “For thousands of years, churches have been making judgments against people,” the judge in that case said. “Dante’s Inferno has been talking about sending people to hell for many a year. People aren’t shocked by it.”

Source: Matthew Heller, “An Illinois priest is being sued for defamation,”, October 7, 2007

Stripped of Benefits

An exotic dancer who injured her back while pole-dancing at an Indiana strip club was properly awarded worker’s compensation, a state appellate court has ruled.

The woman experienced neck pain and numbness after the incident. She later had surgery for a herniated disk. The state Worker’s Compensation Board awarded her more than $10,000 for temporary total disability and lost compensation. The club appealed, and the appellate court affirmed the earlier decision. The appellate court remanded the case for a determination whether she is entitled to double compensation because the club did not carry worker’s compensation insurance.

Source: Associated Press, “Court: Exotic dancer injured in pole dance deserves worker’s comp,” October 10, 2007

At Least We Might Win the Lawsuit!

Two New York Jets’ fans–both lawyers– felt cheated out of an honest game after the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belickick were caught cheating, contributing perhaps to a loss by the Jets, 38-14.

So now they’re making a federal case out of it: an $184.8 million class-action lawsuit. They want reimbursement to Jets’ ticketholders for the cost of their ticket purchases for all games between the Jets and the Patriots between 2000 and 2007. Under New Jersey consumer fraud and deceptive practices laws, that amount, $61.6 million, would be tripled.

At least one Jets’ fan, though, doesn’t want any part of the suit. “The world has gone insane,” he said. “I hate Bill Belichick with every fiber of my heart, but this is absurd to say the least.”

Source: Rudy Larini, “Suit seeks to punish Pats for cheating against Jets,” Newark Star Ledger, September 29, 2007

And the Winner Is …

A West Virginia legal watchdog group, Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), has named its 2007 Champion of Lawsuit Abuse. The winner is Timothy Houston, the lawyer who sued McDonald’s on behalf of a West Virginia man who ordered a Quarter Pounder with Cheese without the cheese, but who ate his burger without checking it first. The man, who suffered an allergic reaction, is suing McDonald’s for $10 million in punitive damages.

“Houston’s shakedown is the single biggest event to raise awareness of the broken lawsuit system in West Virginia,” said Steve Cohen, executive director of CALA. “His outrageous lawsuit landed the state on British chat rooms, MSNBC’s rankings of most-discussed stories, The Wall Street Journal‘s Best of the Web, at least two national radio talk shows, and more than 100,000 Google hits.”

Houston said facts not yet made public would show the suit is not just a tort claim but “an important public health issue.”

Source: John O’Brien, “CALA calls McDonald’s lawsuit attorney year’s top legal system abuser,” The West Virginia Record September 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