Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #9-13

Published June 21, 2010

Truth in Labeling

Wacky warning labels have become ubiquitous due to manufacturers’ concerns about product liability. But a warning label on a rented floor sander manages to warn while acknowledging the need for warnings is wacky:

Source: Photo by Christopher Baker, posted by Maggie Koerth-Baker, “A helpful reminder for modern life,”, June 11, 2010, via overlawyered

Tweet Nothing

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich got in trouble with the presiding judge on the very first day of his trial on federal corruption charges, when the judge warned Blagojevich to stop tweeting in court.

During opening statements in court, both Blagojevich and his wife Patti were using Twitter to send messages. He’s tweeting for public relations purposes, but she isn’t. His first message was: “@governorrod: looking forward to opening statements because that will unlock the truth … stay tuned.”

Hers was “@pblagojevich: Wondering if I have time to get to macy’s to get the lip gloss Amy wants for her graduation night.”

The judge wasn’t having any of it. “I do not want anybody in the well of the court using Twitter during trial,” said Judge James Zagel.

Source: Lowering the bar, “No Tweeting in Court, Judge Tells Blagojevich, June 8, 2010; Chris Fusco, Natasha Korecki, and Sarah Ostman, “Judge to Rod: No tweets from the courtroom,” Chicago Sun-Times, Blago Blog, June 8, 2010

Pot of Gold

A pot-smoking worker mauled by a grizzly bear at a tourist attraction is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, a judge ruled recently.

The mauling occurred at Great Bear Adventures, near Glacier National Park in Helena, Montana. The worker admitted he had smoked marijuana before coming to work. He entered the bear’s pen and was attacked. He required hospitalization after the incident.

The owner of the tourist park argued the worker’s pot use was to blame for his injuries, but the Workers’ Compensation Court judge disagreed. She said he was paid to work and was therefore an employee. She also said the worker’s marijuana use was not the main cause of his injury.

Source: “Man mauled after smoking pot can get workers’ comp,” Associated Press, June 5, 2010

Heart-Earned Knowledge

A Florida man who tried to strangle his wife has a unique defense. When police arrested him for domestic battery, he freely confessed. “I choked her,” the police report states. “I asked him why he did it,” the police officer wrote in his report. The defendant “stated ‘If you were married, you would understand.'” The couple has been married five years.

Source: “New Port Richey man accused of choking wife says marriage is the problem,” Tampa Bay Times, June 3, 2010

Barely Relevant

No one can accuse Federal Bureau of Investigation agents of not doing a thorough job probing alleged prostitution in strip clubs near Seattle.

Six club owners were indicted and are on trial as a result of the investigation. The attorney for one contends an undercover agent spent at least $16,835 buying more than 130 lap dances without making a single arrest. Some charges did result, including racketeering, using interstate commerce to facilitate prostitution, money laundering, and mail fraud. Another defense lawyer told the court that under longstanding law the federal government has limited powers to convert state vice law offenses into federal crimes.

“The government in this case has transformed the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an agency capable of investigating matters of national significance such as capital federal offenses, espionage, and international terrorism, into a vice squad,” the attorney told the court.

Source: Levi Pulkkinen, “Skinvestigation claim: Detective gets 130 lap dances, makes no arrests,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 4, 2010

The Price of Love

A Manhattan man is suing a prominent matchmaker for failing to help him meet the woman of his dreams, even though he paid a $10,000 fee to find her. The matchmaker advertises its service as “akin to having a stylish, savvy female friend constantly on the prowl for you,” looking for women who have “perfection” or “that ‘special something.'”

He asked for a refund of his fee but says he never got it, so he’s suing for $100,000.

Source: Jose Martinez, “Manhattan man sues Amy Laurent International dating service after failing to deliver dream woman,” New York Daily News, May 27, 2010 via faces of lawsuit abuse, a project of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform

You Have the Right to Remain Litigious

Whatever happened to chain gangs? The question arises because it seems prison inmates have too much time on their hands.

First, there’s the former prisoner claiming Michigan prison officials violated his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment by denying him toothpaste for almost a year.

The federal trial court dismissed his case, but a federal appeals court ruled the suit can proceed. He claims he lost a tooth as a result of the dispute.

And then there’s the Montana prison inmate who sued county jail authorities for denying him a “protective” Satanic medallion, the “Satanic Bible,” and the “Book of Satanic Rituals.”

Jail officials said the medallion’s chain was thick and could be used to strangle someone. They said the ban on Satanic literature is upheld in prisons across the country because it promotes violence.

The trial judge dismissed most of the charges but ordered the parties into mediation on the claim involving satanic literature. The inmate settled his $10 million lawsuit for $50.

Sources: Associated Press, “Michigan inmate sinks teeth into prison lawsuit,” May 9; Greg Tuttle, “Satanist settles lawsuit against Yellowstone County for $50,” Billings Gazette, June 10, 2010

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
Author: Maureen Martin
Editors: S.T. Karnick, 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