Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #9-2

Published January 19, 2010

A woman who injured herself learning how to pole dance is suing the New York gym that gave her lessons. She claims the gym failed to supervise the class properly. She alleges the instructor didn’t help her hold an upside-down position, which caused her to slide down the pole and fall to the floor. Her suit doesn’t specify the amount of damages she’s seeking.

Source: Associated Press, “Woman Suing New York Gym After Injuring Herself During Pole-Dancing Class,” January 6, 2010 2009 via, a project of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

Power Plays

A New Mexico man is suing his neighbor for refusing to turn off her cell phone, computer, and other electronic devices, saying they caused his electromagnetic sensitivity to drive him out of his home, The Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

The man says the neighbor’s computer, compact fluorescent lights, dimmer rheostats, iPhone, and other sources emit electromagnetic radiation that makes him ill. His neighbor has refused to turn off the devices, although she has agreed to phase out the fluorescent lights, the paper says. The man alleges he’s forced to sleep in his car. He claims he can’t go to a hotel because they have wi-fi, which triggers his sensitivity.

The man has been active in trying to stop the City of Santa Fe from installing wireless and cell phone towers in the city. Related issues will be on the City Council agenda February 10.

Similarly, a group of “electrosensitive” activists in South Africa are suing their power company for operating a radio tower they say makes them ill. Their symptoms during a specific six-week period late last year included “headaches, nausea, tinnitus, dry burning itchy skins, gastric imbalances and totally disrupted sleep patterns,” according to

But the power company had turned off the tower during this period, though the symptoms reportedly persisted. “So, either the symptoms are psychosomatic, or these people are ‘allergic’ to very tall pieces of inert metal,” the Web site noted, adding, “Of course, they’re still suing.”

Source: Tom Sharpe, “Wi-fi foe sues neighbor for using electronics. Man says electromagnetic sensitivity has forced him to live in his car,” The Santa Fe New Mexican, January 7, 2010; Cory Doctorow, “Electrosensitives tortured by a radio tower that had been switched off for six weeks,”, January 15, 2010

Uncover Charge

A visit to New York’s Hustler strip club, started by Larry Flynt, cost a Delaware man more than $21,000. The man came to the club, received two drinks, and was offered a lap dance costing $300. He says he blacked out after that and wound up with a credit card bill of $21,620.60. He’s suing the club in New York state court.

Source: Dareh Gregorian, “Lawsuit: I blacked out in strip club and was charged $21,000,” New York Post, January 13, 2010 via, a project of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

Nut Case

The Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled Air Canada passengers allergic to nuts are legally disabled and must be separated by a nut-free “buffer zone” on each airplane. Two passengers had complained Air Canada lacked a formal accommodation policy. The airline has 30 days to submit plans for a buffer zone on each aircraft type it flies.

Source: Glenn Lowson, “Air Canada to create nut-free zones on flights,” National Post, January 7, 2010

Yule Be Leaving Now

A new kind of gift certificate was making the rounds in London this Christmas: gift vouchers for advice from divorce lawyers. It’s the “ideal” thing for spouses to give one another, the firm said, since “they can finally broach the subject that they no longer wish to be in the marriage.” It’s also useful for mistresses to buy their lovers “to finally get on with the promise of divorcing their wives.”

The gift certificate was criticized by other divorce lawyers as “trivialising divorce.”

Source: James Swift, “London firm offers divorce vouchers for Christmas,”, December 16, 2009

Animal Wrongs

Ten years ago a former employee of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus alleged in a lawsuit the circus violated the Endangered Species Act by abusing its elephants at a circus facility in Florida. Earlier this month, a federal judge tossed the case out of court.

The former employee had been paid $190,000 by animal activist groups bringing the lawsuit for “education” purposes. The judge found his testimony incredible because the witness “is essentially a paid plaintiff.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture has inspected the facility since 2001 and has found no violations. The lawsuit had been dismissed in 2001 but reinstated in 2003 after an appeal.

A circus spokesman said the circus is frequently a target for animal rights activists. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed another complaint with the USDA recently.

Source: Eloísa Ruano González, “Judge throws out decade-old lawsuit against circus; Dismissal says animal-abuse allegations did not have merit,” Orlando Sentinel, January 5, 2010

Lender Beware

So-called “predatory lending” cases brought by states and municipalities against mortgage banks are proliferating, but one case, brought by the City of Baltimore against Wells Fargo & Co., was dismissed by a federal district court judge in a scathing decision in mid-January.

The suit alleged Wells Fargo caused millions of dollars in damages through increased foreclosures resulting from racist, predatory lending. Baltimore alleged Wells Fargo was responsible for all abandoned homes in the city, lower property values, lower tax revenues, increased law enforcement spending due to a rise in criminal activity, and increased social service spending and construction costs. The judge found this theory “not plausible.” Baltimore has 30,000 vacant homes, but the city identified only 80 of them as being linked to Wells Fargo in African-American neighborhoods.

“Thus, using the City’s own figures,” the judge wrote, “Wells Fargo is responsible for only a negligible portion of the City’s vacant housing stock.” The judge also said other factors are responsible for foreclosures in the city, including “extensive unemployment, lack of educational opportunity and choice, irresponsible parenting, disrespect for the law, widespread drug use, and violence.”

Cases in Cleveland and Birmingham have been dismissed, but a case is pending in Illinois, and one was filed in early January in Memphis.

Source: Tricia Bishop, “City’s Wells Fargo lawsuit dismissed; U.S. judge calls claims of millions in predatory lending damages ‘not plausible’,” Baltimore Sun, January 7, 2010 via the Manhattan Institute’s

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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