Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #7-21

Published November 30, 2008

Good for the Soul?

The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and one of its priests is being sued by a New York woman who alleges the priest seduced her immediately after she confessed her marital difficulties to him. She says the priest proposed the liaison to help her in “overcoming her pain associated with her husband” and “professed his love, devotion, and physical attraction.” She says he told her, “Your presence struck me like a thunderbolt.” Later, she said he told her their sexual relationship was “ordained by God.”

The woman broke off her affair with the cleric after he developed rashes from liaisons with others. She alleges she suffered “severe stress, anxiety, guilt, fear, humiliation, and shame.” The suit seeks $25 million in damages.

Source: The Smoking Gun, “New York woman sues Catholic priest over affair ‘ordained by God,'” October 29, 2008, via

Both Sides Now

The 1st Circuit Federal Court of Appeals affirmed a Massachusetts man’s conviction on drug charges even though lawyer jokes were found in the jury room after the verdict was returned. One joke jurors enjoyed read, “Best known as scavengers of the dead and dying, sharks … are equipped with fine senses of smell that allow them to detect minute dilutions of blood (one part blood to one million parts water) up to one-quarter mile away. Precisely the distance a hopeful personal injury lawyer will run behind an ambulance to toss a business card.”

There were lawyers on both the prosecution and defense sides of the case, so no harm, no foul, the court held. “Here,” the court ruled, “the lawyer joke posed no real danger of prejudicing the jury against the defendant, having nothing to do with the issues in the case or any more connection with one side’s counsel than the other’s.”

Source: United States of America v. Benito Grullon, No. No. 07-1982 (1st Cir. October 24, 2008)

Divorced from Reality

A high-flying divorce attorney lost $200,000 in the stock market, so he’s suing his investment firm for $5.2 million. The lawyer, Raoul Felder, has represented former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the ex-spouses of Liza Minnelli and Christie Brinkley, among others.

Felder claims the investment firm, Alliance Global Wealth Management, put him in risky investments when he asked for conservative ones. He alleges the firm defrauded him.

Source: Associated Press, “High-Profile Divorce Lawyer Sues Investment Firm for $5.2 Million, Alleges He Lost $200,000,” October 21, 2008

Scatter Shot

A Kentucky woman apparently doesn’t know which company made the asbestos that allegedly sickened her husband with mesothelioma or otherwise caused his exposure to asbestos, so she’s suing 149 defendants. She also doesn’t know how he was exposed to it, either, so she’s alleging he inhaled it, ingested it, or “otherwise absorbed” it.

She does know how much money she wants, though: $300,000 in actual damages plus punitive damages.

Source: Kelly Holleran, “Kentucky woman sues 149 corporations in Madison County,” Madison St. Clair Record, October 28, 2008

Can Do Voodoo

A French judge has tossed out a voodoo case filed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The suit involved a voodoo doll sold by a French company designed to look like Sarkozy. Doll owners can stick pins into Sarkozy quotes printed on the doll, such as “work more to earn more.”

The judge found the doll was a form of free expression and its maker has “the right to humour.” The judge ruled Sarkozy does not have “exclusive and absolute rights” to his image. The litigation controversy has reportedly spurred sales of the doll.

Source: BBC News, “Sarkozy loses ‘voodoo doll’ case,” October 29, 2008

Green and Gold

A federal judge has blocked New York City from forcing taxi operators to go green, ruling the city can’t require new cabs to be hybrid vehicles running on either gasoline or electricity.

The taxi operators argued such vehicles are not tough enough to taking the pounding city cabs receive. The judge ruled on other grounds, however, finding only the federal government can issue regulations on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Larry Neumeister, “NY judge gives red light to green cabs,” Associated Press, October 31, 2008

Hot for Teacher

A University of California biology professor is vowing to go to jail rather than take mandatory training on sexual harassment prevention.

A California law requires the training for those who supervise more than 50 people, but Alexander McPherson, a prominent scientist who studies proteins and whose experiments have been conducted aboard the space shuttle and international space station, is refusing to take the class.

“I have consistently refused to take such training on the grounds that the adoption of the requirement was a naked political act by the state that offended my sensibilities, violated my rights as a tenured professor, impugned my character, and cast a shadow of suspicion on my reputation and career,” he said. “I even offered to go to jail if the university persisted in persecuting me for my refusal. We Scots are very stubborn in matters of this sort.”

Source: Associated Press, “Prominent Professor May Lose Salary for Refusing ‘Sham’ Sexual Harassment Training,” November 6, 2008

Pet-Sitter State

A proposed new code in the UK would authorize the national government to jail pet owners who let their dogs and cats get fat, or fine them up to £20,000 ($30,755).

Pet obesity would be evidence of animal cruelty under the code. It also considers evidence of cruelty to include lack of “entertainment” and “mental stimulation” for pets, lack of “somewhere to go to the toilet,” failure to brush animals regularly, failure to brush long-haired cats once a day, and feeding pets chocolate or raisins.

A government spokesman said the code was developed to inform pet owners of their responsibilities so “no one will be able to claim ignorance as an excuse for mistreating any animal.” But a spokesman for the opposing party, the Tories, called the proposed new code “absurd” and “ridiculous.”

Source: David Derbyshire, “Barking mad: Owners of obese dogs and fat cats could face jail under controversial new rules,” Daily Mail, November 5, 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
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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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