Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #7-23

Published December 15, 2008

Wide Implications

Obese and disabled passengers in Canada who can’t fit into a single airline seat will get two seats for the price of one beginning early in 2009.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ordered the action, but it’s up to the three domestic airlines–Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz, and WestJet–to fill in the details by the deadline. It may take that long to read the CTA’s enormous opinion, which stands after two federal courts declined to review it.

“It’s been basically left to the airlines to determine how they are going to comply,” said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick. “We’re working on it now.”

Sources: Rob Gillies, “Canadian Court rules obese travelers get 2 seats,” Associated Press, November 24, 2008; CTA Order at

Pain in the Behind

Her lawyer claims she’s “not obese,” so that’s not why the toilet seat broke when a New Jersey woman sat on it. The incident left her stuck in the toilet for 20 minutes before she was rescued. The woman is suing the toilet manufacturer and the sports bar and restaurant where the toilet was located.

Source: Associated Press, “NJ woman sues Pa. sports bar for toilet seat break,” December 4, 2008

Wrongful Discharge

The local sheriff revoked her concealed-carry gun permit, so a Pennsylvania woman is making a federal case out of it.

It upset other parents when the woman wore her holstered gun to her five-year old’s soccer game, so they complained to the sheriff, who took her permit away. She appealed the decision, won back the permit, and then filed the federal suit. She alleges a violation of her Second Amendment rights and malicious prosecution, saying her babysitting business has declined and her neighbors have “ostracized” her following her permit appeal.

“I fought for my right, and now I’m still being punished,” she said.

Source: Martha Raffaele, “Pistol-packing Pa. soccer mom sues county sheriff,” Associated Press, November 24, 2008, via, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

A Loan and Feeling Blue

It should have been a run-of-the-mill collection case, but when Deutsche Bank sued Donald Trump to force him to repay a $40 million loan he guaranteed, it got a clever defense and a $3 billion countersuit in return.

The funds were for construction of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.

Trump’s defense is the force majeure clause in his loan documents. Such clauses typically excuse failures due to “acts of God” such as floods or riots. Trump’s, however, also includes “any other event or circumstance not within the reasonable control of the borrower.” Trump argues this includes the financial crisis.

“Would you consider the biggest depression we have had in this country since 1929 to be such an event? I would,” he said. “A depression is not within the control of the borrower.” In addition, he alleges the bank’s refusal to let him reduce condo unit prices specified in loan documents amounts to “predatory lending practices” and has damaged his reputation to the tune of $3 billion.

The New York Times calls the suit “fascinating.” You may think of other words.

Source: Floyd Norris, “Trump Sees Act of God in Recession,” New York Times, December 4, 2008

Naked Lunch

An Arkansas woman who sent nude photos to her husband’s cell phone, which the husband later left behind at a local McDonald’s restaurant, is suing the restaurant, its manager, and the parent corporation after the photos wound up on the Internet. Her husband is suing as well.

The manager found the phone and said he would keep it until the husband could return for it. But before he got there, his wife began receiving text messages from people who saw her pictures on a Web site. “I liked what I saw,” one message said. She suffered emotional distress, she says. The husband and wife seek more than $3 million in damages.

Source: Scott F. Davis, “Couple sues McDonald’s over nude photos on Web: Husband left phone with wife’s naked pictures at restaurant,” Northwest Arkansas Times, November 22, 2008 via

Dreadful Mistake

A Rastafarian’s lawsuit against a JiffyLube franchisee for religious discrimination through its grooming policy can proceed to trial, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled recently.

The new franchisee policy required employees with customer contact to be clean-shaven, but the man told them his religion banned cutting his hair and shaving, so he was moved to a job without customer contact. His employment continued, and he received merit raises, a spokesman for the franchisee said.

But the court ruled the company didn’t show there were other ways of accommodating his religious beliefs other than “a total exemption” from the policy.

Source: Associated Press, “Court Allows Rastafarian to Sue Jiffy Lube Over Grooming Policy,” December 3, 2008 via

Schedule Conflict

Six Florida voters–five Democrats and one Republican–have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all Florida voters against the State of Florida for its law requiring an early primary election date.

A 2007 Florida law requires both parties’ primaries to be held on January 29, resulting in challenges to seating the state delegations from both parties. The state law violates the First Amendment right to assembly and Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection, the suit alleges, by usurping the parties’ roles in setting their own primary dates.

The suit, filed before the political conventions, originally asked to have the primary moved to an earlier date. But the suit is not moot, the plaintiffs’ lawyer argues. “The broader focus now is to make sure this does not repeat itself,” he said. “We need to identify the underlying Constitutional problem and address it.”

Source: Catherine Dolinski, “Class-Action Suit Filed Over Early Primary Election Date,” Tampa Tribune, November 29, 2008

Beware of Crocs

The maker of the popular Crocs shoes is being sued by the parent of a child whose clog was caught on an escalator at the National Aquarium. The child’s toe was injured. The suit claims Crocs, Inc. knew about the danger but failed to warn consumers despite 200 similar claims worldwide. Crocs, Inc. has agreed to add warning labels next year.

Source: Associated Press, “Pa. mother sues Crocs over son’s escalator injury,” December 4, 2008

Presidential Wisdom

“I can’t have a high-minded lawyer. … I want a son-of-a-b—-.”

Source: Ann Althouse, “Newly released Nixon tapes to kick around” at, December 3, 2008 via overlawyered

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