Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #7-18

Published October 15, 2008

Party Poopers

Children’s birthday parties are the latest target for plaintiff’s lawyers, according to a column written by–of all people–a lawyer. Cases are pending in Florida, Kansas, Ohio, England, and Sweden, the attorney wrote. His advice for parents: Require partygoers to sign liability waiver forms.

In the Swedish case, the school attended by an eight-year-old filed a “rights violation” against the parents when a teacher noticed two children hadn’t been invited to the boy’s birthday party. The school argued it was guarding against discrimination. The father of the birthday boy also has filed a “rights violation” claim, saying he snubbed the two uninvited kids because they weren’t getting along with his son.

The culprit in the Kansas City case was a rented monkey that either bit or jumped on a young guest. The county health officer ordered the monkey be put to sleep so it could be tested for rabies, even though the monkey’s owners, a veterinary technician and her then-husband, a veterinarian, said the monkey had been vaccinated.

The monkey was euthanized, and it didn’t have rabies, so the owner sued for “needless euthanasia,” claiming the “stress” of the incident ruined her marriage and career. But, she said, “The worst thing was we killed a nonhuman primate who was in the middle of this whole thing for nothing.” The county health officer is now suing her for malicious prosecution in bringing the needless-euthanasia case.

Source: John Browning, Herald Banner Publications, “It’s My Party, and I’ll Sue If I Want To,” August 14, 2008

All I Want for Christmas Is … $5 Million

How much is the loss of two front teeth worth? A Michigan teen who lost his thinks the right number is $5 million.

The teen has 20 open court cases against him, many for violent crimes, and he was in police custody when an officer slammed him into a wall. His suit for damages followed, the teen’s mother says, because of what the family characterizes as police brutality. The teen’s mother says her son is mentally disabled and needs the money to pay for hospitalization in a mental institution.

Source: “$5 million lawsuit for knocked out teeth,” WWMT, Channel 3, Kalamazoo, September 29, 2008, available at

Stop Me Before I Buy More!

Oprah Winfrey’s mother, Vernite Lee of Milwaukee, is suing a posh boutique near Milwaukee, claiming the shop should have stopped her before she charged clothes there.

The store allowed her to charge clothing worth $155,547.31 as of July 1, even though it had previously filed a collection case against her for $174,285. That case was eventually settled. The store then filed a second collection case against Lee.

She responded with a counter-suit, claiming the bad debt is unenforceable and unconscionable because the store “knowingly and unfairly took advantage of Lee’s lack of knowledge, ability, and/or capacity.” She seeks damages, finance charges, and attorney fees.

Source: Jacqui Seibel, “Winfrey’s mother countersues over bill, $150,000 in store credit disputed,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 1, 2008

Profiting from Losses

Lawyers are lining up to file class-action lawsuits against Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, and other players in the subprime mortgage meltdown. The line is likely to be a long one.

The suits allege various forms of deceptive practices, targeting stock underwriters, banks, and Fannie and Freddie’s corporate officers.

One lawyer says much more litigation is in the works and it is coming at just the right time. “We expect to wrap up the last of our cases from the tech bubble in the first quarter of next year, so based on that I anticipate this [subprime litigation] will keep us busy for seven or eight years,” he said.

Source: Peter Page, “New wave of class actions filed in wake of subprime collapse,” National Law Journal, October 10, 2008

Hair Trigger

A Connecticut woman has sued L’Oreal Inc., alleging she bought hair coloring labeled blonde by the company but it was actually brunette. It “ruined her social life” and “left her so traumatized she needed anti-depressants.” She also “suffered headaches and anxiety, missed the attention that blondes receive, and had to stay home and wear hats most of the time.” Fortunately, the court dismissed the case.

Source: “Blonde-Turned-Brunette Gets Brush-Off After Alleging Mismarked Hair Dye,” Associated Press, October 9, 2008, via U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform

Smelly Cot

A Madison, Wisconsin jury has awarded a prison inmate $295,000 because prison officials forced him to sleep on a wet, moldy, smelly mattress. The 29-year-old man is serving a 23-year sentence for a shooting incident in Milwaukee in which a stray bullet killed an 11-year-old girl. The man had been temporarily placed in a segregated cell pending an investigation into a 2004 prison riot. The state is appealing–unlike the alleged mattress.

Source: “Jury awards inmate $295,000 over wet bed,” Associated Press, September 23, 2008, via Sykes Writes, WTMJ News Radio 620, Milwaukee

Animal House

Motel maids have probably seen every kind of trash left behind by slovenly guests, but Busch Gardens’ theme “Where the Unexpected Comes Together” has taken on a whole new meaning for a motel maid in Florida.

As a publicity stunt, Busch Gardens had two lemurs, a monkey, a macaw, and an alligator appear at public events to promote its Tampa theme park. The animals were put up at the Hampton Inn near the Miami Airport. The maid contends she had to clean up after them, removing hair, feathers, feces, and urine. “‘When you walked into the room, it was like being in a zoo,” she said.

She’s suing Busch Gardens and the motel owners, alleging physical and emotional disturbances and severe allergies.

Sources: Douglas Hanks, “Traveling zoo at hotel made me sick, maid says, A Hampton Inn maid claims health woes after cleaning up for two lemurs, a monkey and an alligator,” Miami Herald, September 24, 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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