Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #8-18

Published September 28, 2009

Heated Argument

A property investment firm in the U.K. is under attack by government regulators for discriminating against an employee on grounds akin to religious discrimination when it allegedly fired him because he believes in manmade global warming. The employee claimed others in the firm are skeptical that man’s activities are causing climate change and refused to stop what he viewed as unnecessary travel and driving “some of the most highly polluting cars on the road.”

His belief “affects how I live my life including my choice of home, how I travel, what I buy, what I eat and drink, what I do with my waste, and my hopes and fears,” he said. “For example, I no longer travel by plane, I have eco-renovated my home, I compost my food waste and encourage others to reduce their carbon emissions.”

The case follows enactment of a law equating “philosophical belief” with religious belief if it is “cogent, serious and ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society.'” The case is on appeal.

Source: “Company fights climate change ruling by employment tribunal,” Guardian, September 6, 2009 via

Cash Guzzlers

A class-action suit against Costco may be settled with the class members taking nothing and the lawyers getting $10 million in legal fees.

The suit alleges Costco sold gasoline without adjusting for changes in its energy value when the temperature increases. Notices are going out to people eligible for the settlement–persons who purchased gasoline when the temperature was above 60 degrees from January 1, 2001 through April 22, 2009 in any of 26 states, the District of Columbia, or Guam.

It’s difficult to see why anyone would bother opting in for nothing, though. The Center for Class Action Fairness is filing an objection.

Source: Ted Frank, “Costco Fuel Settlement,” Center for Class Action Fairness, September 22, 2009

Criminal Neglect

A British businessman was convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm for beating a hardened criminal who held the businessman’s family hostage with a knife and threatened to kill them.

The criminal, Walid Salem, plus two accomplices, broke into the home and ordered the man, his wife, and his children to lie on the floor. His son escaped, and two of the three invaders fled, leaving Salem. The businessman threw a coffee table at Salem, chased him into the home’s garden, and continued beating him. Prosecutors said the businessman’s actions inside the house were self-defense, but continuing outside the house amounted to excessive force.

“This is one more shocking blow for a man who thought he had suffered enough last September,” a family member said. “We are absolutely devastated; it’s hard to believe in justice any more.” The businessman may also have to pay Salem £6,000 (about $9,566) to compensate him for his injuries, even though Salem has gone on to commit other crimes.

Source: Colin Fernandez, “Millionaire faces jail for attack on knife raider at his home,” Daily Mail, September 11, 2009

Off the Wall

Neighbor is pitted against neighbor in Westport, Connecticut, where a fence dispute has morphed into a legal one. The issue is a stone wall built by one neighbor at a cost of $170,000. He says the town told him no permit was needed, but that turned out to be wrong, and the neighboring property owner sued. The town says the wall, which replaced one previously in the exact same location, encroaches about six inches onto town property and was built without a permit. So far legal fees are costing the wall owner about as much as the wall did.

Source: Paul Sullivan, “Somebody’s Watching … and Ready to Sue,” New York Times, September 5, 2009

Sharp Retort

A judge in Queens, New York has dismissed a case because the paperwork was badly stapled. “[T]he poor stapling of the papers was so negligent as to inflict, and did inflict repeatedly, physical injury to the court personnel handling them,” the judge wrote. “Such negligence on the part of counsel shows a lack of consideration.”

The case involved an auto accident with minor injuries. The offending lawyer wanted a default judgment. He said the case will eventually go forward anyway.

Source: Mark Fass, “Lawyer’s ‘Poor’ Stapling Provokes Motion’s Dismissal,” New York Law Journal, September 25, 2009 via Jonathan Turley

Sis, Boom, Ouch

There’s nothing cheerful about the lawsuits breaking out among three Maryland cheerleading gyms.

Two gyms, Xtreme Acro and Cheer, sued a former coach, alleging he stole money and poached young cheerleaders for his own new cheerleading gym, the Fearless Allstars. He’s countersuing, alleging the two gyms are trying to put him out of business.

“Cheer … is a wonderful sport for your child, but you know, it is a cutthroat industry,” said one parent of a nine-year-old.

Source: Alan Suderman, “Cheerleading gyms take fight to court,” Washington Examiner, September 3, 2009

Down for the Count

The blogosphere was buzzing recently over the size of the turnout at the 9/12 rallies in Washington, DC, but the U.S. National Park police’s fears of litigation mean there will be no official report.

Estimates ranged from 50,000-60,000 to two million. The park police issued a crowd estimate after the Million Man March in 1997, but it differed from the estimate of march organizers, who threatened to sue the police. So the park police stopped issuing estimates.

Source: Walter Olson, “D.C. park police crowd estimates,”, September 13, 2009

Bet You Can’t Stop Me!

The Indiana Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving a bad gambling debt.

The case was brought by a casino to collect on a debt of $125,000 which a woman lost in one night, but the woman claims the casino induced her to gamble with free meals, rooms, and credit.

The appeals court ruled she shouldn’t recover because she failed to have herself banned from the casino under a program for compulsive gamblers.

Source: Associated Press, “Indiana Supreme Court to hear gambler’s lawsuit,” September 15, 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:

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19 South La Salle Street #903
Chicago, Illinois 60603