Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #9-23

Published November 15, 2010

A Florida bar grievance committee has declined to discipline a lawyer, appointed as a criminal defense lawyer for indigent defendants, for billing the state for more than 24 hours per day on 41 days.

The lawyer said on 35 of the days in question, he compressed time worked over numerous days into one day’s billing entry. On the other days, he personally billed for time actually worked by his subcontracting attorneys. The committee described this billing practice as “not consistent with the high standards of our profession.” It also chastised him, saying, “If you are ever placed in a situation requiring you to follow specific guidelines to obtain a desired result … pay strict adherence to such requirements.” But the committee said there was no probable cause to charge him.

It doesn’t look like he’ll be doing any more business with the state, though. The Justice Administration Commission, which hires contract attorneys, explained, “We contract with folks who follow the rules.”

Source: Paul Pinkham, “Jacksonville lawyer cleared of overbilling charges,” Florida Times-Union, November 10, 2010

Legal Bellyache

A Florida restaurant is being sued for serving a patron grilled artichoke without explaining to him what parts not to eat.

The customer ate the whole thing, including the indigestible outer leaves of the vegetable–only the inner, pulpy leaves are edible. He experienced “severe abdominal pain and discomfort” and ended up in the hospital where, during exploratory surgery, “artichoke leaves were found lodged” in his intestines.

His complaint alleges the entire artichoke looked like it could be eaten, so the restaurant had the legal duty to train its servers to properly explain how to eat it.

Source: “Diner Makes Legal Meal of Injury From Artichoke Leaves,”, November 4, 2010, via faces of lawsuit abuse, a project of the United States Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

Bare Necessities

A federal judge has certified a class of exotic dancers who are suing a strip club because it forces them to buy their own thongs.

The Penthouse Executive Club, described as “an upscale jiggle joint,” can be sued by all of the club’s strippers and other workers for this alleged illegality, as well as the club’s practices of failing to pay minimum wage and overtime and charging fees and premiums.

Source: Jeane MacIntosh, “Judge rules strippers can file suit against Penthouse jiggle joint,” New York Post, October 28, 2010 via Jane Genova at

Eating Away at Profits

A McDonald’s restaurant in Brazil has been ordered by a judge there to pay its former manager $17,500 based on the manager’s allegations he gained 65 pounds due to the restaurant’s free-lunch-for-employees policy. He also attributes his weight gain to surprise inspections by “mystery clients,” which effectively forced him to sample the food to make sure it met standards.

Source: “McDonald’s Ordered to Pay Fat Manager,” Lowering the Bar, August 29, 2010

That’s His Story, and He’s Sticking to It

A Wisconsin man is suing his former girlfriend, who received a year’s probation earlier this year for super-gluing his penis to his body after three of her coworkers accused him of infidelity. He accuses her of emotional distress, assault, and battery, claiming he needed psychological counseling to recover. Well, yeah!

Source: “Return of the penis gluer,” Milwaukee News Buzz, November 2, 2010

Courting Fame

A judge in California who wanted to become the next “Judge Judy” resigned from the bench recently after taping proceedings in her courtroom as an audition film. In return for her resignation and her agreement never to seek or hold judicial office, she was only censured by California judicial authorities. They had found that “while the cameras were rolling, the proceedings took on the atmosphere of a game show.” She told one defendant she was placing him on probation and “what that means is don’t come before the court on another case … ’cause you will definitely be screwed, and we don’t offer Vaseline for that.”

Source: Bruce Carton, “Judge in Your Case Secretly Making an Audition Tape, Part II,” Legal blog watch, November 11, 2010

A Piece of the Rock

A Canadian man who claims the government stole a “priceless” meteorite he says sprouted extraterrestrial crystal-like life forms 12 years after he found it on his mining claim in 1986 is suing the government for $12 million in damages.

He submitted the rock to the Geological Survey of Canada. He says they confirmed it was a meteorite, but returned it to him a year later minus the crystals and missing a 40-gram piece of the rock. Agency officials contend it is an iron meteorite worth about $2,000 at most.

Source: CBC News, “Yukon man seeks $12M for space rock damage,” October 21, 2010

Prison’s Dilemma

A Wisconsin prison inmate is trying to undo an earlier agreement to drop a lawsuit against state prison officials for refusing to use state funds to pay for a sex change operation. The lawsuit, pending since 2003, alleges the refusal is cruel and unusual punishment.

The inmate, in for armed robbery until 2026, was male but has been taking female hormone drugs paid for by the state and now wants to be known as “Donna Dawn.” The settlement came this summer, following a ruling by a federal trial court judge allowing the case to proceed. Officials were “deliberately indifferent” to the inmate’s “serious medical need,” the judge ruled. The judge also declared unconstitutional a state law passed in response to this case banning use of taxpayer funds to pay for hormone therapy or sex change operations. The state is appealing this decision.

The judge ordered the parties to try to reach an agreement in mediation, and initially they did. Under the settlement, the inmate was to receive female underwear and was to remain at a male prison but have a private toilet and shower and receive anti-baldness drugs.

But now the prisoner claims to have been coerced into the agreement and wants to revoke it. Previously, prison officials refused to allow the inmate to wear female underwear, contending it would make her a target for sexual assault and other prisoners would ask for the same privileges. “If you let one inmate wear a bra and panties, they’ll all want to wear a bra and panties,” one prison official testified.

Source: Ryan J. Foley, “Wis. inmate seeks to nix deal in sex-change case,” The Argus-Press (Owosso, MI), November 10, 2010 via faces of lawsuit abuse

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