Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #7-05

Published March 1, 2008

Flight Risk

A man prevented from parachuting off the Empire State Building last year by the building’s security guards is suing the building owners for $30 million for unlawfully imprisoning him and causing him emotional distress. It follows a $12 million suit the owners filed against him for endangering bystanders by his attempted leap. That suit has been dismissed.

The man claims he suffered “adrenal fatigue” after the incident, causing him to sleep 12 hours a day and inhibiting his ability to jump from high structures. He said he has recovered and is now planning to jump from an airplane dressed as a giant flying squirrel. You can’t make these things up.

Source: Anemona Hartocollis, “Would-Be Jumper Sues Empire State Building,” New York Times, January 15, 2008, via Sick of, February 2008

Between Friends

A Texas man is suing his friend–make that his ex-friend–who locked herself out of her house. She asked for his help, and he tried to force open a window, injuring his hand when it broke through the glass. He alleges the window was dangerous because it was “nailed and/or painted shut” and that she should have warned him of the “foreseeable and imminent danger.”

The injury caused him pain and mental anguish, the suit contends, as well as “impairment and disfigurement.” He is seeking lost wages and medical expenses; no damages amount was specified.

Source: Davit Yates, “Man helps locked-out neighbor, sues for injury when glass breaks,” The Southeast Texas Record, January 31, 2008

Briefs Encounter

The “Naked Cowboy” may be able to afford some clothes if he wins his $6 million lawsuit. A famous tourist attraction in New York City’s Times Square, the cowboy wears a white cowboy hat and boots and poses with his guitar situated over his briefs so he looks naked.

In a case of candy imitating life, Mars, makers of M&M candies, mounted a video billboard displaying a blue M&M clad identically in a cowboy hat and boots and shielding its briefs with a guitar. The Naked Cowboy initially thought the imitation was “cool” but has now filed a suit for trademark infringement. “I’m huge now, but I represent the little guy,” he said. “All I’ve got is my underwear.”

Source: Kati Cornell, “Candy Man Can’t,” New York Post, February 13, 2008, via, February 14, 2008

Bar Sinister

It’s a sweet deal for everyone involved–except the public. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has been outsourcing the state’s legal work to law firms under contingent fee arrangements amounting to many millions of dollars. The firms–27 to date–act with full powers of the state’s chief prosecutor. In return, they have donated more than $790,000 to Hood, both directly and via pass-throughs from national organizations, to fund his reelection campaigns.

The Mississippi legislature is trying to crack down on this abuse. Hood is fighting it like a stuck pig. No wonder.

“A decision to prosecute is an awesome power, and it ought to be motivated by evidence and the law, not by the profit motives of private tort lawyers and the campaign needs of an ambitious Attorney General,” the Wall Street Journal noted. “Government is supposed to act on behalf of the public interest, not for the personal profit of trial lawyers. The tort bar-AG cabal deserves to be exposed nationwide.” Consider it done.

Source: “Lawsuit, Inc.,” Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2008

Movin’ on Up

A New York real estate lawyer, who says he was struggling to make a living, was disbarred early this year, having been suspended in 2006 pending final judgment for taking $21,000 to act as the attorney of record for scores of personal injury cases actually handled by non-lawyers at a lawsuit mill. Court papers were filed without his even seeing them, he said. He told the state lawyer disciplinary commission cases bearing his name may have been filed without his knowledge

Disbarment was the best thing that ever happened to him. He recently outbid singer Madonna for a $35 million townhouse on the upper East Side of the city, thanks to his post-law job with a real estate investment firm that earned $430 million for selling a property last year in Chelsea after his 2006 suspension. He credits his success to his “perseverance, dedication, and hard work.” And being disbarred.

Source: Anthony Lin, “Lawyer Disbarred for Splitting Fees, Other Misconduct,” New York Law Journal, February 27, 2008, via the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform

Quick Learners

They haven’t even graduated yet, but a number of law students are already in court, suing their law schools for a variety of alleged injuries.

In Kentucky, students at the American Justice School of Law are suing the school for tax fraud, false representations, racketeering, scheming to defraud, and obstruction of justice. The suit stems from the school’s failure to obtain accreditation from the American Bar Association.

A student at Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia has sued because he was expelled after critiquing the school in an online blog. A student at the University of Dayton School of Law in Ohio has sued the school for allegedly negligent use of exam software. A student at Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando claims in court his professor’s use of an exam question taken from a commercial test guide disadvantaged him and others who didn’t buy the guide.

And a student at Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale sued after flunking out of school with a grade-point average of 1.948. The minimum needed is 1.95. She claims she was discriminated against because she’s white, while minorities with lower GPAs were allowed to stay.

Source: Vesna Jaksic, “Don’t Like Your Grade? Sue Your Law School,” The National Law Journla, December 18, 2007, via Wall Street Journal Law Blog, December 19, 2007, and February 25, 2008

Snow Job

A young Colorado skier is being sued for allegedly colliding with an adult skier on the slopes in Vail. The boy, eight, was skiing with his dad when he “tapped” the ski boot of a 60-year-old skier ahead of him. The boy said he apologized after the accident and started to ski away. But the man grabbed his legs, cursed at him, and threatened to sue him.

The man made good on the threat. He alleges he tore a tendon in his shoulder and wants $75,000 in damages including medical expense, lost vacation time, and his wife’s damages for taking care of him.

Source: Steve Lynn, “Boy, 8, sued in Beaver Creek ski collision; Man, 60, says he was injured in crash on catwalk at Beaver Creek’s Arrowhead area,” Vail Daily, December 19, 2008

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