Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #8-22

Published December 7, 2009

An 81-year-old New York man claims a Queens bar’s “pet-friendly” environment is to blame for the loss of his sex life with his wife.

The man is suing the bar, alleging it allowed a dog there. He tripped over the dog and injured his knee, resulting in “severe pain, shock, mental anguish” that destroyed his sex life.

“What can I say? It’s the story of my life,” he said. “I was in a brace for two months.” No damages are specified.

Source: Jennifer Millman, “Man Sues Bar, Says Tripping Over Dog Ruined Sex Life,”, November 16, 2009

Last Gas

A Pennsylvania woman who was sprayed with gasoline from a faulty gas pump is suing the station owner, Shell Oil Co., and Saudi Aramco for negligence.

The woman claims she has developed a phobia against pumping her own gas. The suit alleges she “becomes ill upon the smell of gas and will not seek to obtain gas until absolutely necessary as a result of this incident.”

The case was filed in 2000 but is still pending. Two attorneys previously representing the woman have quit.

Source: Lara Brenckle, “In 2000 suit, Linda Thompson claims gas station spill led to fear of filling up,” (Harrisburg) Patriot-News, October 27, 2009 via overlawyered

Love’s Labours Lost

A Chicago divorce lawyer who’s trying to call herself the “Lawyer of Love” is being sued by Playboy over rights to that moniker. Corri Fetman first came to public attention over her law firm’s 2007 bulletin board on Rush Street featuring her and her personal trainer, both scantily clad, with the slogan, “Life’s short. Get a divorce.”

Later, she posed for Playboy and began writing an advice column, called the “Lawyer of Love,” for the magazine’s Web site. She lost her Playboy gig after alleged sexual harassment by a now-former Playboy executive. That claim is also pending.

The Playboy claim came after she tried to register “Lawyer of Love” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as her trademark. Playboy claims she waived her rights to the phrase in her agreement with the company and is seeking court orders to stop her efforts to claim it.

Source: “Playboy sues Chicago divorce lawyer, Corri Fetman, known for racy billboard,” Chicago Tribune, November 10, 2009

Track Suit

A Mississippi woman was struck by a train as she walked along BNSF railroad tracks in Tupelo. She nearly lost her leg.

Now she’s suing the railroad for $6 million, alleging the railroad is at fault; she says it should have posted “no trespassing signs” to keep her away. The railroad said it sympathized with her injuries, but noted she admitted to trespassing.

Source: Associated Press, “Woman sues RR for injuries while taking pictures,” November 17, 2009

A Ruse by Any Other Name

It’s not unusual for a plaintiffs’ contingent fee law firm to sue a defendant for confusing and misleading consumers, but it is unusual when that defendant is another plaintiffs’ contingent fee law firm.

Habush, Habush & Rottier is Wisconsin’s largest plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm. It pioneered lawyer advertising for clients. A competitor, Cannon & Dunphy, bought the keywords “Habush” and “Rottier” on the Internet search engines Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Entering those keywords leads to Cannon & Dunphy.

The suit claims Cannon & Dunphy has illegally appropriated the Habush and Rottier names and is using them wrongfully in advertising. Cannon & Dunphy says it’s not using the names in advertising, just as search terms. The suit is believed to be the first of its kind, as law firm advertising moves onto the Internet.

Source: Bruce Vielmetti, “Habush, Habush & Rottier claims cyber hijacking by rival, Web searchers misled by keywords, suit says,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 19, 2009 via bitter lawyer

Car Talk

Is honking an automobile horn free speech? This profound question is now before the Washington state supreme court.

The case originated with a homeowners’ association’s ban on raising chickens. A Monroe, Washington woman insisted on keeping them in her back yard. After neighbors complained, she honked the horn in front of their homes for as long as 10 minutes. The woman was arrested for violating county noise laws, which classify horn honking as a public disturbance unless warranted by public safety purposes. She was sentenced to 10 days in jail after a three-day trial.

On appeal, the court affirmed the conviction, holding, “Horn honking which is done to annoy or harass others is not speech.” The state supreme court has agreed to hear the case.

Source: Diana Hefley, “Monroe honking case makes it to state Supreme Court,” (Everett, Washington) Daily Herald, November 11, 2009

Bubble Trouble

They say women have to suffer to be beautiful, but an Iowa City woman disagrees. She’s suing a beauty college after a shampoo bottle was dropped on her head while she was receiving beauty services.

She claims she suffered physical and mental pain and has lost bodily function, enjoyment of life, and future earning capacity.

Source: Lee Hermiston, “Woman files suit over shampoo bottle being dropped on her head,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 16, 2009

Upstairs Downstairs

A Manhattan foot-and-hand model is suing the co-op building where she lives for $10 million in damages, claiming residents are treating her as a social outcast because she married the doorman.

The woman’s extremities have been featured in ads for Maybelline, Harry Winston, Anne Klein, and Oil of Olay, among others, but she contends she’s been “treated with hostility” by building management and residents since her marriage.

Her lawyer believes she seems to have “breached some type of social order that existed in that building. There’s no question that they’ve been made to feel like outcasts.” She added, “Nobody should have to live this way.”

One resident disagreed, describing her “as a potty-mouthed neighbor from hell who parades around in skimpy outfits.”

Source: Kerry Burke and Jose Martinez, “Hand model Christina Ambers sues building for $10M over alleged mistreatment since she wed doorman,” New York Daily News, November 20, 2009 via

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