Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #7-13

Published August 1, 2008

Everyone’s a Critic

A Durham, North Carolina lawyer sued his local newspaper in June for breach of contract because it fired 70 staffers. “By getting rid of staff, you’re producing an inferior product that is dooming the newspaper industry into obsolescence,” he said. “Attempts to fill the news hole with syndicated columnists, wire stories, and cheap filler instead of writing from local staff makes the paper like any other news source. It doesn’t have a distinctive voice, and readers can go anywhere else to get their news fix.”

The lawyer had just renewed his subscription when the layoffs were announced. He alleged the product he would be receiving was not what he contracted for. He dropped his suit in July, however, saying he had made his point in coverage the lawsuit received in The Wall Street Journal, Harper’s Magazine, and The New Yorker and on ABC News and National Public Radio.

Source: Leah Friedman, “Subscriber drops suit against The N&O,” (North Carolina) News & Observer, July 28, 2008, via

You Can Run, but You Can’t Hide

A San Francisco meter maid injured when her cart crashed sued the manufacturer of the cart and her employer, the city of San Francisco. She alleged, and her husband testified, that she could not jog or “do other strenuous activity.”

However, she was photographed running in a 10-kilometer race, and the photographs were introduced before the jury. They awarded her $1.5 million in damages anyway, but no damages for future pain and suffering. What about the taxpayers’ pain and suffering in paying for this?

Source: “WhooHoo!!! Wait, No, I’m Injured,” Legal Pad, June 22, 2008, via

Sand Blasted

A Texas lawyer is suing a Galveston hotel, alleging he leaned against a table that collapsed. He claims sand that had spilled from an ashtray onto the pavement then “exacerbated his loss of balance.” He lost a finger in the incident.

The lawyer alleges the hotel knew about the sand and failed either to remove it or warn guests of “the unsafe condition.” He’s seeking damages for medical expenses and lost income, as well as “anxiety, pain, and illness.”

Source: John Suayan, “Attorney blames hotel ashtray for loss of finger,” Southeast Texas Record, July 21, 2008

Splashy Suit

A jet skier who threw water at a boater on an Illinois river is being sued for $200,000 in damages for assault and battery and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The female boater said she feared the jet skier was going to ram her boat and throw more water at it. The complaint alleges mental anguish and severe emotional distress, but no physical damages. What about the damage to common sense, when people can sue people for splashing water on them?

Source: Ann Knef, “Boat passenger claims jet skier threw water on her,” The Madison St. Clair Record, July 23, 2008, via iamlawsuit

Monkey Business

A Missouri woman is suing city authorities, a local Wal-Mart store, and a health education facility for discriminating against her monkey.

Health officials contend the monkey poses health risks, especially in food service establishments. But the woman claims she suffers from “social anxiety disorder” and has panic attacks. The monkey helps calm her down and is equivalent to a seeing-eye dog, she argues, which can accompany the blind under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The health department has instructed various establishments, including restaurants, grocery stores, school functions, and a nursing class not to admit her. Wal-Mart asked her to leave its store. No word on whether the monkey actually likes to patronize these establishments.

Source: Dirk VanderHart, “Suit alleges monkey discrimination,” (Springfield, Missouri) News-Leader, July 17, 2008

Suing the Messengers

Two Christian bible publishers are being sued because their bible editions “call homosexuality a sin.” The plaintiff is seeking $60 million in damages from one publisher and $10 million from another because the publications allegedly violated his constitutional rights and caused him “emotional pain and mental instability” and “demoralization, chaos, and bewilderment.”

“The court has some very genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of these claims,” the judge said, aptly characterizing the plaintiff’s belief that he deserves $70 million because two companies published a book he doesn’t have to read.

Source: Matthew Balan, “Grand Rapids Press Omits Other Side in Report on Bible Lawsuit,”, July 9, 2008

Weed Whackers

The “War on Drugs” has taken an unusual turn in California. Medical marijuana has been legal there since 1996 with a physician’s authorization and can be used and grown. But the federal government is busting growers under federal laws that criminalize growing the weed. The feds believe “marijuana poses a danger to users on a par with heroin and PCP,” one commentator wrote.

But one California lawyer is defending against the federal cases, arguing state law permits marijuana use and cultivation and that state judges and prosecutors don’t understand this. “People are talking about how [marijuana is] being over-recommended and abused,” he said. “I mean, big

  • ****** deal. It’s not toxic!”


Source: Dan Slater, “L.A.’s Dopest Attorney Says Courts Need to Bone Up on Pot Law,” Wall Street Journal Lawblog, July 25, 2008

Premarital Discord

A Wisconsin woman has dropped her suit against her son’s former fiancée to recover $1,100 the mother advanced to pay for their planned wedding ceremony and reception, Associated Press reports. But a Georgia bride-to-be recovered $150,000 after her fiancé jilted her.

The Wisconsin case was a she-said, she-said situation. The mother said the engaged couple promised to pay her back; the fiancée denied it. The case was dropped after the hall and the church agreed to work things out with the mother.

In the Georgia case the fiancée alleged she left a high-paying job to be with her husband-to-be. He said he paid off $30,000 worth of her debts and jilted her only after finding out there was even more debt. One juror disagreed with the outcome but gave in to the others. “He paid her a bundle, along with the engagement ring that was really worth a lot of money,” the juror said.

Source: Associated Press, “Mom gives up lawsuit to get money from girl who jilted her son” July 24, 2008; Access North, “Hall Co. jury awards jilted bride $150,000,” July 23, 2008

Two Can Keep a Secret … If Neither Is a Credit Card Company

American Express is being sued by a disbarred New York lawyer for giving police his credit card information, which allegedly led to his capture. The lawyer was arrested in Canada, where he had fled after being indicted on charges of having sex with underage girls. He pled guilty and has been sentenced to prison.

Source: Associated Press, “Ex-con sues AmEx, says it aided search for him,” July 21, 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:

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Chicago, Illinois 60603