Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #9-16

Published August 2, 2010

There’s a concept in law called “assumption of risk,” which applies when a plaintiff knowingly engages in a dangerous activity. That doctrine may knock a British woman’s case out of court.

She’s planning to sue “Britain’s Got Talent” judges Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan after they gave her the hook on the talent competition. Cowell, known for his nasty ridicule of contestants who bomb on that show and on “American Idol,” said the tune she selected, “You Raise Me Up,” is “a beautiful song except when you’re singing it.” Morgan and the third judge, Amanda Holden, also buzzed her off the program.

She said during a preliminary court hearing, where it will be decided if her case can proceed, her fibromyalgia hindered her performance. Dismissing her from the show “was an act of harassment perpetrated in the full knowledge I was being degraded and humiliated because of illnesses,” she claims, adding the show is “backdoor modern slavery,” “modern-day barbarism,” and an “atrocity.”

She wants her dignity restored– plus $3.7 million.

Source: David Williams and Andy Winter, “‘Humiliated’ BGT Flop Wants To Sue Cowell, A woman who blames illness for her failure on Britain’s Got Talent wants to sue the TV show for discrimination because she felt humiliated by the judges,” Sky News Online, July 22, 2010 via

Child Restraint Required

A passenger on an airline flight in Australia claims a toddler screamed in her ear on the flight, causing permanent hearing loss. She sued the airline, alleging its personnel were negligent.

She settled for an undisclosed sum, even though there was evidence she wore hearing aids before the episode. She also allegedly wrote in an email, “I guess we are simply fortunate that my eardrum was exploding and I was swallowing blood. Had it not been for that, I would have dragged that kid out of his mother’s arms and stomped him to death.”

Source: Belinda Luscombe, “Toddler’s Scream Leads to Airline Lawsuit,”, July 20, 2010

Penny Foolish

Class-action lawyers are suing 99 Cents Only Stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas for deceptive advertising practices after the stores raised the top price of their items to 99.99 cents. Shoppers allegedly said they were “duped” because they are actually paying $1 for the items.

“If they call themselves 99 Cents Only, it should be 99 cents,” said one of the lawyers. “We had a survey done before we filed the lawsuit to see how many people thought they were paying 99 cents, and it was just about unanimous that nobody realized that they were paying more than 99 cents.”

The chain’s chief executive said signs were placed in store windows and advertisements were placed in newspapers and on the radio. “I don’t think consumers were misled,” he said.

Source: Andrea Chang, “99 Cents Only Stores sued over price increase,” The Los Angeles Times, July 22, 2010

Tree Worship

A Texas man has filed a federal district court suit alleging his civil rights were violated by county officials in Huntsville when they arrested him for interfering with a tree-trimming crew trying to restore power after a hurricane in 2008.

The man is opposed to tree-trimming. “It is basic to his spirituality and religious beliefs,” his lawyer says, and the tree-trimming violated his First Amendment rights. He belongs to a church participating in the Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation.

Source: John Council, “Nature Worshiper Files Civil Rights Suit After Tangle With Tree Trimmers,” The Blog of Legal Times, July 26, 2010

Force Majeure

A Pennsylvania lawyer was jailed for punching his opposing counsel, who had called him bald and stupid.

The lawyer was jailed after he was recorded on video throwing three punches at the opposing counsel. The lawyer was manacled and taken to jail but was later released on bond. He was charged with assault, harassment, and disorderly comment. He declined public comment.

Source: Martha Neil, “Civil Case Turns Criminal as Lawyer Allegedly Punches Lawyer Who Called Him Stupid, Bald,” American Bar Association, July 19, 2010

Grave Robbery

A Milwaukee attorney has been disbarred and ordered to pay back $1.1 million to heirs of three estates from which he allegedly pilfered funds.

The “once-legendary” attorney, now in his eighties, specialized in handling small or complex estates. One of the three estates was valued at $1.6 million, $700,000 of which has gone missing. The attorney says he doesn’t have the money, and he refuses to say what happened to it. The Wisconsin Supreme Court says some of the money may have been transferred to overseas accounts.

Source: Matt Hrodey, “Did the King of Probate steal from his clients?” Milwaukee news Buzz, July 29, 2010

Distress Tale

A Florida inmate serving a 12-year term for burglary and cocaine possession is suing the owner of the van he broke into and two other men who caught him in a citizens’ arrest.

The van owner saw the burglar with his bicycle, which had been locked inside the van, and caught him. The burglar alleges the three men pointed a gun at him and handcuffed him and one placed his knee in the burglar’s back.

The suit claims the man suffered disabilities and “distress.” He’s representing himself and wants $500,000.

Source: Associated Press, “Inmate sues man he’s convicted of burglarizing,” June 30, 2010

Wrong Sighs

An Illinois municipality may change its ordinances to banish from its meetings citizens who roll their eyes and sigh out loud.

The change is under consideration after a woman who was not allowed to address the Elmhurst city council’s finance committee did just that and was ordered to leave the meeting by the committee chairman. “Making faces behind the mayor’s back is disruptive, in my opinion,” he said. Other committee members objected to his order, and two of them left. City attorneys are researching whether the disorderly conduct ordinance would include eye-rolling and sighing.

Source: Kevin Underhill, “City Council In Illinois May Ban Eye-Rolling,” Forbes, July 29, 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