Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #8-11

Published June 2, 2009

Butting Cheeseheads

Forget the issue of who gets the family jewels when dear old Dad kicks the bucket. In Wisconsin, the more important question is who gets the Green Bay Packers tickets.

Two brothers are currently embroiled in a court battle over 13 midfield Packers season tickets. Their father left the tickets to one brother but stipulated the brothers were to share any proceeds from scalping them, allegedly worth about $250 to $300 per game per ticket. The brother without possession of the football tickets claims in court the tickets really belong to both of them.

The Packers are among some NFL franchise teams designating season tickets as family property. The tickets rarely go on the market, and there is a multi-millennium-long waiting list. “For instance, if you put your name on the waiting list today, you would be number 74,659,” Sports Illustrated noted a few years ago. “An average of 70 people give up their tickets every year, which means you’ll have your tickets by the 3074 season. Luckily you’ll still catch Brett Favre’s last year.”

Source: Andy Nelesen, “Brotherly love takes back seat in Packers ticket tiff, Siblings in suit over proceeds from dad’s Packers seats,” Green Bay Press Gazette, May 27, 2009; “Be the 74,659th In Line! No team in professional sports has more loyal and passionate fans than the cheeseheads of Green Bay, Sports Illustrated, October 10, 2007

Dressed for Excess

It’s increasingly common for lawyers to spurn Brooks Brothers in favor of “business casual attire” around the office, but things are apparently going a bit too far in court and some law firms.

At a meeting of the Seventh Circuit [Federal Court of Appeals] Bar Association, judges and lawyers discussed proper courtroom wear. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow complained one female lawyer showed up in velour looking as if she were “on her way home from the gym.” District Court Judge Michael McCuskey mentioned women who come to court in “skirts so short that there’s no way they can sit down and blouses so short there’s no way the judges wouldn’t look.”

Judicial criticism of male attire was less harsh–nix on loud ties or ones with smiley faces on them–but that wasn’t the case in a memo the New York-based Curtis Mallet law firm sent its lawyers. “By all means resist the urge to acquaint us with your chest hair. If you think it necessary to impress the ladies with your efforts at the gym over the winter, think again–we are not a particularly good demographic for that,” the firm advised.

Source: Lynne Marek, “Illinois federal judges grouse about lawyer attire in the courtroom,” National Law Journal, May 20, 2009; “Curtis Mallet Defines ‘Business Casual’ for its New York Associates,” Above the Law, June 1, 2009

Getting Chippy

In case you were wondering, Pringles are officially “potato chips,” at least in the UK.

Because Pringles contain only about 40 percent potato flour–the rest is corn, rice, and wheat–Procter & Gamble argued they should be exempt from a $160 million value-added tax on potato products such as chips. P&G argued a taxable potato product had to have the quality of “potatoness.”

The high court had little patience with these arguments; the “essence of potato” has nothing to do with it, one judge observed. It looks like a potato chip, it’s marketed as a potato chip, so it’s a potato chip. We’re glad that’s settled.

Source: Adam Cohen, “The Lord Justice Hath Ruled: Pringles Are Potato Chips,” New York Times, June 1, 2009, via Jonathan

Profit-Seeker Without Honor

The Guinness Book of World Records allegedly wants to name a federal prison inmate for having filed the most lawsuits in the history of mankind and wants to dub him “Sue-per-man” and “Johnny Sui-nami,” among other things. The inmate is not amused. So, of course, he is suing Guinness, seeking an injunction to stop it from publishing anything about him.

The man concedes he has filed more than 4,000 suits around the world. “I’ve filed so many lawsuits with my pen and right hand that I got arthritis in my fingers, numbness in my wrists, crooked fingers,” he handwrote in the complaint in the Guinness suit. “I flush out more lawsuits than a sewer.”

Among other defendants, he has sued Plato, Nostradamus, James Hoffa, the Lincoln Memorial, the Eiffel Tower, Three-Mile Island, Black History Month, the president of Iran, and the butter substitute “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” When he gets out of prison in three years, he plans to open a shop to teach Americans how to file lawsuits with themselves as plaintiffs and without lawyers.

Source: Thomas Clouse, “Man sues book over most-litigious crown, Federal inmate’s many targets include pirates, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” Spokesman-Review [Spokane, Washington], May 23, 2009

State of Fear

The Ohio Attorney General’s office has threatened to garnish an Ohio man’s wages and foreclose on his house to collect $24.66 in costs over the man’s claim for a flat tire.

The man was driving his truck on a state road when it struck a six-pound road reflector that had been dislodged from the pavement, gashing the tire. When he reported the incident to the county, he was urged to file a claim with the state for the $89 new tire he had to buy. The claim, which cost him $25 to file, was denied because he couldn’t prove how long the reflector had been dislodged–a nearly impossible burden of proof.

He could have appealed, but decided not to spend any more money. Bills began arriving from the state, each successive one adding more fees, which he refused to pay. Eventually, the Attorney General’s office threatened to attach his “wages and bank accounts,” adding “a sheriff’s sale of your personal property may be held, and a foreclosure action against any real estate owned by you may be initiated.” The man paid the bill.

Source: Brendan Keefe, “Man Gets Flat Tire, State Threatens Foreclosure,” SCPO-TV, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 21, 2009

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: