Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #7-20

Published November 15, 2008

A Good Name Is Hard to Find

Many states ban lawyers from doing business under assumed names such as “Barracuda” or “Shark.” Now a Louisiana lawyer is suing the state over proposed new bans on lawyer ads that promise results, such as “the cash machine legal clinic,” claiming they violate his right to free speech, Associated Press reports. And new rules are proposed in Missouri banning use of characterizations such as “heavy hitter” or the “strong arm.”

But nothing bars lawyers from using their real names. Here are some names from the Greatest American Lawyer blog site and Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly‘s take on what kind of law they should practice:

  • Got a tough lawsuit? Hire Smart & Biggar.
  • Injured in an accident? How about Payne & Fears?
  • Nasty divorce? You’d want Bickers & Bickers.
  • Murder charge? Slaughter & Slaughter.

And then there’s Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen . … Guess that would be family law.

Source: Greatest American Lawyer, “Ten Law Firm Names That Make You Scratch Your Head: Do Egos Continue to Drive Law Firm Naming Conventions,” October 20, 2008, available at; Michael Kunzelman, “Lawsuit seeks to block tough La. lawyer ad rules,” Associated Press, October 27, 2008, via Illinois Civil Justice League

Nothing to Sneeze At

Drug charges are pending against an Iowa man for alleged illegal purchases of pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter cold and sinus remedy. The man always buys a supply of the drug for his chronic nasal congestion, which he’s had all his life. Because the drug also can be used as a raw material for methamphetamine, an Iowa law restricts the amount that can be purchased either daily or monthly.

He was caught in a roundup by Mason City police, jailed, and required to post a $1,000 bond. “I had to empty my pockets, take off my shoes, have my mug shot taken and my fingerprints,” he said. “I understand the law–but I will say there are some quirks in it.” His previous encounters with the law were two speeding tickets over the past 30 years.

Source: John Skipper, “Man says stuffy nose did him in,” Mason City (Iowa) Globe Gazette, September 22, 2008, via

Struck Down

A 6 foot, 8 inch, 218-pound former college basketball player–a ringer on a Lawyers Athletic League team–lost his lawsuit alleging negligence against the league. The judge dismissed the suit, filed in Manhattan, finding a release the player signed absolved the league.

The player alleged the opposing team was “talking trash” to him and struck him. “Next thing I knew, I was getting up from the floor,” he testified. The release absolved the league of injuries from “actions, inactions, or negligence” of the league and others. The judge ruled this applied to being punched by an opposing player.

Source: Noeleen G. Walder, “Court Tosses Claim by Basketball Player Punched During Lawyers’ League Game, Nonattorney player for Milberg Weiss has suit dismissed against lawyers league and Food Bank for New York City,” New York Law Journal, October 23, 2008, viaoverlawyered

Her Purse Overfloweth

A Scranton woman is $19,000 richer because she cursed her overflowing toilet. The woman was arrested for disorderly conduct last year by city police, but the judge dismissed the case, ruling it was protected free speech under the First Amendment.

To avoid a countersuit by the woman, the City of Scranton paid her $19,000. “It’s clear the city was wrong,” she said. “However, I’m glad that I was able to fight for my rights. In the end, I found justice.”

Source: Jeremy G. Burton, “Scranton pays $19k to settle toilet-swearing case,” Scranton Times-Tribune, October 22, 2008, via, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Equal Spites

Columbia University has been sued by a man who claims its women’s studies courses are unconstitutional because there is no similar program for men.

“Now is the time for all good men to fight for their rights before they have no rights left,” his Web site says. He added in court, “Women’s studies give women a carte blanche to do whatever their irrational whims tell them.”

Columbia responded “thousands of courses” at the school involve men’s accomplishments, so the program is balanced.

Source: “Columbia uni’s ‘parody’ lawsuit,” Associated Press, October 25, 2008

A Target on Her Back

A stray e-mail from a Target retail store employee alerting a regional antitheft task force that a female shopper had tried to pass a counterfeit $100 bill–a charge later found untrue–will cost Target $3.1 million.

That’s what the jury awarded a Greenville, South Carolina woman after a three-day defamation trial. The e-mail had led the U.S. Secret Service to question the woman while she was at work at a Belk department store in Greenville, where she was employed in the store’s loss-prevention department, the complaint alleged.

The verdict was for $100,000 in actual damages and $3 million in punitive damages.

Source: Eric Connor, “Greer woman awarded $3M in Target suit,” Greenville (South Carolina) News, October 24, 2008

Promises, Promises

A ménage a trois does not give one of the threesome a claim for palimony, a New Jersey appeals court has ruled. The court said a man, his older wife, and a younger woman living together was “a marriage-type relationship,” but defined palimony as remedying “a broken promise made for future support,” not compensation for a past one.

The husband, 41 at the time of the marriage, was 20 years younger than his wife. He was her seventh husband; it was a marriage of convenience, designed to keep her children from having her declared incompetent and seizing her trust fund. She supported the husband in many failed businesses.

Meanwhile, he took up with a 25-year-old flight attendant. Ultimately, all three lived together. The flight attendant left when the husband refused to divorce his wife, and she sued for palimony. “Certainly her decision [to leave] was understandable,” the appeals court wrote, “but in our view it did not result in a valid palimony claim due to the absence of any promise of lifetime support.”

Source: Michael Booth, “When Palimony’s at Stake, Three’s a Crowd,” New Jersey Law Journal, October 28, 2008, viaoverlawyered

Courting Divine Punishment

Updating a prior Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly item, the suit filed by a Nebraska legislator against God has been tossed out of court.

The legislator alleged God had legal liability for causing “widespread death, destruction, and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants,” and said he filed the suit to point out rich and poor alike should have access to the courts.

The judge dismissed the suit because God, whose address is unlisted, can’t be served with notice of the suit. The legislator might appeal, though. “Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit,” he said. And he could always also argue since God is everywhere he’s already appeared in court.

Source: Associated Press, “Suit against God tossed over lack of address,” October 15, 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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