Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #9-3

Published February 1, 2010

A Louisiana judge has granted a continuance of a trial in deference to “Saintsmania.”

In light of the New Orleans Saints winning the NFC championship, the judge ruled, “Many prospective jurors for the Parish of Orleans, several attorneys involved in this litigation and court personnel plan on traveling to the promised land–the Superbowl in Miami, Florida. The court recognizes this pilgrimage enhances the chances of the Who Dat Nation to acquire the long sought after Holy Grail–the Vince Lombardi trophy.”

Source: Becnel v. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Inc., No. 2005-4072, Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, January 27, 2010 via

Above the Law

Jury duty is required of Illinois residents, and those called for jury duty can postpone their day in court only if court officials approve the request. But President Barack Obama evidently believes normal legal rules don’t apply to him.

Obama was summoned to serve on a jury in Bridgeview, a Chicago suburb, on January 25. Instead of asking for a postponement as the law requires, the White House informed officials jury duty for the president “was a no-go.”

The president had to prepare for his State of the Union address on January 27, of course, but on the day he was to appear for jury duty he was scheduled to meet the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team.

Source: Katherine Skiva, “Obama to skip jury duty in Bridgeview,” Chicago Breaking News Center (WGN News; CLTV, WGN Radio, Chicago Tribune), January 24, 2010

Hidden Flight Fees

The Balloon Boy’s dad doesn’t want to pay the $48,000 it cost law enforcement and other agencies to mount the rescue in the hoax he conducted, claiming officials are trying to make a profit on his case.

Richard Heene agreed to pay a small amount of restitution as part of a plea agreement, so agencies filed to recover $20,000 for the sheriff’s department services on the day of the hoax, $16,000 for two National Guard helicopters, and the $12,000 cost of the subsequent investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking an $11,000 penalty for the shutdown of a runway at Denver International Airport.

Heene’s lawyer said normal sheriff’s department salaries and wages should not be included in the restitution amount, nor should costs of additional persons to answer the onslaught of media calls. “They don’t get to make money on this case, which is exactly what the sheriff is trying to do,” the lawyer said. “Pay the cost of police officers acting as police officers? Sorry, that’s not what the law says.” A hearing is to be held on the issue but is not yet scheduled.

Source: P. Solomon Banda, “Balloon boy attorneys challenge restitution amount,” Associated Press, January 26, 2010 via

Big Mac Attack

An Amtrak police officer who was shot after his gun was grabbed by a woman in a McDonald’s restaurant in Philadelphia is suing Amtrak.

The officer stopped to buy a cup of coffee and was standing in line when the woman, evidently homeless, got into an argument with restaurant employees who refused to give her a free coffee refill. She grabbed the gun and shot the officer in the foot, causing injuries allegedly “severe,” “permanent,” and “disabling.” She was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and other offenses.

The officer alleges his gun holster, supplied by Amtrak, was worn, torn, and defective and Amtrak refused to provide him a new one.

Source: Stephanie Farr, “Ex-Amtrak cop sues RR over shooting at take-out,” Philadelphia Daily News, January 21, 2010

Last Words

A legal assistant evidently fired by her North Carolina lawyer boss took revenge recently. The lawyer specializes in slip-and-fall cases, DUIs, and worker’s compensation. When a court official emailed the assistant to confirm a mediation date, he got the following auto-reply: “Effective 11/10/2009, this email is no longer in service.

“If you want an update regarding your worker’s compensation claim, contact [the lawyer] personally at xxx-xxx-xxxx and if he refuses to speak to you, which he will, then mostly likely he’s avoiding you because he has NOT worked on your case and IS in the office browsing through facebook …

“Good luck, you’ll need it.”

Source: Kashmir Hill, “The Revenge of Justice’s Assistant,”, January 25, 2010

Brain Scam

What do Oprah Winfrey, former President George W. Bush, his wife, Laura, and three West Virginia doctors have in common? They’re all being sued by a West Virginia woman claiming they poisoned her and caused her to have surgery, during which she was implanted with a 3-D camera, film plates, and wire sensors intending her to be reincarnated. In her suit, she claims she is being monitored 24 hours a day.

She claims damages of $50 billion in the case, in which she is representing herself. She also wants a court-appointed lawyer.

Source: Kyla Asbury, “Woman claims Oprah, Bushes, doctors behind implant-reincarnation plot,” West Virginia Record, January 8, 2010 via, a project of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

Gangsta Frats

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against 37 fraternities at the University of California-Berkeley, alleging they are engaging in public and private nuisances, including public drunkenness, encouraging underage drinking, and harassing neighbors. The suit alleges the behavior is akin to gang activities under a California state law.

The suit was filed by a neighbor, and the class includes current and past residents, renters, and property owners. It seeks an injunction against the activities and penalties for alleged violations of laws. It also seeks compensatory and general damages, special damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Source: Kate Moser, “Suit Tries Gang Strategy Against Frat Boys,” The Recorder, January 20, 2010


The Texas mother of a 15-year-old son who allegedly beat her, causing multiple concussions and memory loss, now has to pay her son’s legal bills. The mother formerly lived in Arizona, where she says the teen was arrested 20 times for physically abusing her.

This time the beating cost her $10,000 to $15,000 in medical bills, but she makes slightly too much income to qualify for a public defender. And because she is the teen’s legal guardian, she’s responsible for his legal fees.

“Unfortunately it becomes the parent’s responsibility,” said one criminal lawyer. “Essentially they’re punishing the victim.”

Source: Adriana M. Chavez, “Texas woman beaten by son must cover legal costs,” El Paso Times, January 25, 2010 via

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:

The Heartland Institute
19 South La Salle Street #903
Chicago, Illinois 60603