Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #9-1

Published January 4, 2010

Head Case

A Manhattan restaurant and bar is being sued by a patron who claims she was injured when a moose head fell on her during a party there.

She alleges the establishment “had a duty to provide … an environment free from falling objects.” She is suffering “chronic neck pain, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness and other serious and severe personal injuries,” including “embarrassment.”

She also claims “lost cognitive skills,” notes Lowering the, though that Web site is skeptical. Her tweets just before the accident include: “Tom igoes pecha kucha on itp projects at the itp reunion was so true!”

Sources: John Del Signore, “Lawsuit Over Loose Moose Abuse at White Slab Palace!” Gothamist, December 30, 2009; Kevin Underhill, “Woman Claims She Was Struck by Falling Moose Head, lowering the, December 30, 2009

Magic Words

A jury’s guilty verdict on a first-degree murder charge is “a nullity,” according to Maryland’s highest court, because the jury was not polled and not “hearkened.”

Hearkening “requires the trial court to inquire in open court, before the jurors are discharged, whether the jury agrees with the verdict just announced by the foreperson,” the court said, explaining the purpose is to verify the accuracy of the verdict. The exact language necessary: “Hearken to your verdict as the Court hath recorded it. You say that [name of defendant] is guilty (or not guilty) of the matter wherefore he or she stands indicted, and so say you all.”

The only issue on appeal was the “hearken” one–the Maryland man did not contest the merits of the guilty finding itself.

Source: State of Maryland v. Isa Manuel Santiago, No. 14, December 21, 2009 via

15 Minutes of Infamy

A California interior designer made a big mistake when he appeared on HGTV, a cable home improvement channel, while he was claiming disability payments from an insurance company because he couldn’t work. An employee at the insurer happened to be watching and reported him to state insurance officials.

An investigation disclosed he’d earned $400,000 over three years while on disability. He pleaded guilty to fraud charges involving $147,000. He was sentenced to pay $180,000 in restitution and fines, five years’ probation, and 200 hours of community service.

Source: Dennis Romero, “When Claiming Disability, Try Not To Appear On TV … Working,” LA Weekly, November 20, 2009

Unrequited Lust

A Texas judge may go to jail because he offered a defendant in a DWI case before him a better court-appointed lawyer if she’d engage in a sexual relationship with him, “more than a one-night stand.” If she refused to do so, the woman testified, the judge told her she’d be convicted because he was the judge in her case. She turned him in to authorities instead.

He was convicted by a jury of “official oppression.” “You demean what it means to be a judge,” the sentencing judge told the would-be Romeo. “We are all tarnished by your stupidity.”

Source: Renee C. Lee, “Judge sentenced to 30 days in official oppression case,” Houston Chronicle, December 21, 2009

Egg Fight

An Orland Park, Illinois man and his friend, who captured a Chicago suburban teenager who had “egged” his house, are being sued by the teen for $100,000 each for allegedly assaulting and striking the boy.

The man said the boy and his friend threw 30 eggs at the house; the teen admits to only two. The man says he never hit the teen, but got him a bucket and towels to clean the house. “I didn’t hit that boy,” he said, “I brought him into my house, and my wife gave him a bucket full of water and some towels to clean up the mess.” Another teen escaped, he said.

The two men were previously found not guilty of criminal battery charges.

Source: Phil Kadner, “Prank becomes a $100K lawsuit,” Southtown Star, December 15, 2009

Track Suit

The mother of an Atlanta four-year-old who ran into the path of a 5,229-foot long CSX train, was struck by it, and survived is now considering suing the railroad.

The toddler was chasing his runaway dog, didn’t see the train coming, and ran directly in front of it. He was treated for a concussion and released from the hospital two days later.

The police found no fault on the part of the railroad, because there was no way to stop the train in time.

Nevertheless, the mother is considering a lawsuit. “There’s no fence, and I’m very scared about that,” the mother said. “I want them to put up a fence and I want them to apologize.” The railroad said it’s impossible to fence all 21,000 miles of their tracks across the country. Another issue likely to be raised is whether the railroad tracks were already in place when the family bought their home.

Source: Megan Matteucci, “4-year-old survives being hit by train,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 3, 2009 via

Hooter Looter

A North Dakota man wants the state’s supreme court to declare that the cost of his soon-to-be ex-wife’s breast implants and corrective eye surgery should be counted among her “assets” in calculating her share of marital property.

The man’s divorce lawyer argued medical expenses that are “clearly cosmetic, elective, [and] non-necessary” ought to count against his wife’s share. The implants cost $5,500 and the eye surgery $1,000.

The court was skeptical. “Do we have any lines to be drawn? Is dental work a marital asset? Is a hip replacement a marital asset?” one justice asked the man’s attorney. The lower court was equally scathing, calling it “absolute nonsense.”

The justice noted, “I can’t imagine people would actually waste time thinking that breast implants are marital assets. It just defies common sense. I don’t know how you would expect me to award breast implants, if you want me to have them cut out and given to” the husband.

Source: Dale Wetzel, “N.D. Supreme Court mulls value of breast implants, Are Breast Implants and Donated Organs Marital Assets?” Associated Press, December 3, 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:

The Heartland Institute
19 South La Salle Street #903
Chicago, Illinois 60603