Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #9-21

Published October 18, 2010

A Brooklyn lawyer has been denied state income tax deductions for “therapeutic sex,” “massage therapy to relieve osteoarthritis and enhance erectile function through frequent orgasms,” and for “pornography to enhance sexual performance in lieu of taking Viagra.”

The lawyer claimed he was entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in such “medical expense” deductions, but the state tax appeals board denied them. The lawyer previously was denied the deductions for federal income tax purposes by the Internal Revenue Service.

“Patronizing a prostitute is illegal in New York and, thus, a taxpayer cannot claim a deduction for any illegal operation or treatment,” the board ruled. Most of the items “were not for the treatment of a medical condition, but rather, were instead personal items.”

The lawyer, 79 and retired, was a tax law specialist in his former practice.

Source: Joel Stashenko, “Tax Panel Rejects Lawyer’s Bid to Deduct Spending for Sex,” New York Law Journal, October 7, 2010

Safe House

A California lawyer who just wanted to get away for some R&R had a busman’s holiday in the cabin in the woods he rented.

There, he found a warning label on the inside edge of an eight-inch window seven feet off the shower floor. It read: “WARNING OPEN WINDOWS CAN BE HAZARDOUS. Failure to heed this warning may result in personal injury or death. Insect screens will not stop children from falling out of windows. Keep children away from open windows.”

And, affixed to the alarm clock: “Warning: This alarm will wake you up.”

Source: John Frith, “Wacky Warnings Are Everywhere,” The California Civil Justice Blog, October 5, 2010 via

Obscenity Lawyer

A Kansas City lawyer run amok has been disbarred by the Kansas Supreme Court. Not a moment too soon.

The lawyer had uttered profanities at court clerks, calling them “f—— bitches.” He got into a brawl with security guards when the metal detector pinged and he refused to reenter. And then he asked a judge whether the judge was a pedophile, saying “You’re going to sit up there with the audacity and the smugness of your holiness.”

He was jailed twice over the episodes. He also was held in contempt of court–but he won’t have that problem anymore.

Source: Debra Cassens Weiss, “Lawyer Disbarred for $3,500-an-Hour Fee and ‘Bizarre Behavior,'” ABA Journal, October 13, 2010

Net Loss

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago recently tossed out a woman’s case against Yahoo! for false advertising.

The woman entered her name in the search engine and claimed it associated her with “websites promoting sexual escapades,” the court wrote. She filed a claim under a federal act barring false advertising, but this act requires plaintiffs to have a “commercial interest” to protect. She argued she had a substantial “internet presence” including “humanitarian efforts on behalf of baby seals, wolves, and wild horses;” “scholarly posts” on a Web site; two poems published on a Danish Web site; and “genealogy research.” The court held, though, that these activities are not commercial.

Source:, “Seventh Circuit: Plaintiff Unhappy With Search Results Can’t Sue Yahoo!” October 3, 2010

Record Spending in D.C.–on Lawsuits

Washington, DC is now famous for more than monuments and politicians: It pays out record millions of dollars every year to settle lawsuits, many of them questionable.

The Washington Post analyzed official data and found from 2007 through 2009 the District paid out more than $50 million in settlements. During the same time period, Montgomery County, Maryland paid out a mere $8.5 million. The District has 599,000 residents; the county has 972,000.

Among the DC settlements:


  • $7,500 to a sixth-grader who transferred to another school after the principal used the school cafeteria to spay-and-neuter hundreds of cats, allegedly triggering her allergies.



  • $5,500 to the family of a student struck by a coach.



  • $11,500 to a family who inquired about a jailed relative only to learn he’d died four months earlier and was cremated without family authorization.



  • $25,000 to a bicyclist hit by a garbage can thrown by a sanitation worker.


Observers say one problem is the District doesn’t correct the behavior of departments making bureaucratic mistakes leading to litigation.

But Peter Nickles, district attorney general and supervisor of litigation there, attributes big settlement spending to a litigious society. “There are more lawyers per capita in this city than any other city in the world,” Nickles said. “And what do lawyers like to do?”

Source: Paul Schwartzman, “From 2007 to 2009, D.C. paid more than $50 million in legal settlements,” Washington Post, October 11, 2010 via

No Secret

It’s perfect “reality” television: a sneak peek into the family of a Utah polygamist, which includes four wives and 13 children. But the Lehi, Utah police department is not entertained. It’s investigating whether to charge them with bigamy, a felony.

The family is starring in TLC’s Sister Wives. They say they were “disappointed” to hear about the investigation but knew there were risks involved when they decided to do the program. “But for the sake of our family, and most importantly, our kids, we felt it was a risk worth taking.”

The family has “lawyered up” big-time with constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School. His defense is called “selective prosecution.” Utah almost never prosecutes for polygamy, he says, unless there is child abuse or other criminal conduct involved. There is no such evidence here, he says, so prosecuting for being high-profile is insufficient grounds.

Source: TMZ Staff, “Polygamous Family: TV Show is Worth the Risk, TMZ, September 28, 2010; TMZ Staff, “Polygamy Family Gets Really Good Lawyer,” TMZ, October 6, 2010

Guest Disservices

The Hyatt hotel in Deerfield, Illinois has one unhappy guest. The woman returned to her room to find a male Hyatt employee trying on some of her clothes–a skirt, a pair of high heels, and some of her underwear. He handed them back to her. Ugh!

Police were called and arrested the man, who later pled guilty to disorderly conduct and was fined $187. Now the guest is suing Hyatt for emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and negligent hiring, supervision, and/or training.

Source:, “Hotel Sued After Employee Caught Wearing Guest’s Underwear,” October 8, 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