Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly #6-14
Case of Beer
Perusing some 1,500 decisions penned by Michael B. Mukasey, the nominee for U.S. attorney general, while he was on the federal bench in New York City, The New York Times unearthed one concerning whether Anheuser-Busch’s Natural Light beer tasted better than Coors Light.
“The parties have vigorously disputed whether the taste of beer, unlike the taste of milk, is adversely affected by pasteurization,” Mukasey wrote, adding new terms to the Latin legal lexicon: “De gustibus cerevesiae non scit lex.” This translates roughly as “the law takes no account of taste in weak beer.” Nor of weak humor, apparently.
Source: Adam Liptak, “Nuance and Resolve in Rulings by Attorney General Nominee,” The New York Times, September 23, 2007; Coors Brewing Company v. Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., 802 F. Supp. 965 (S.D.N.Y. 1992).
One for the Supreme Court
A Nebraska state senator believes the legislature should not ban frivolous lawsuits because “anybody” should be able to sue “anybody,” apparently for anything. To prove it, he recently filed suit against God.
The suit demands a permanent injunction to force God to stop making terrorist threats and stop causing “fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like.” And we thought it was all due to global warming.
Source: “State Sen. Ernie Chambers Sues God, Chambers Aims to Make Point About Frivolous Lawsuits,” KETV, September 17, 2007, available at http://www.ketv.com/news/14133442/detail.html.
He’s Unfit, But the Elves Are Fine
Speaking of the supernatural, a judge in the Philippines is appealing a decision by the country’s supreme court removing him from his job because, while on the bench, he frequently consulted three invisible elves--he calls them “Angel,” “Armand,” and “Luis.” The high court found him to be suffering from psychosis.
Still, strange things have been happening-- including destruction by fire of the court’s crest and a spate of illness and accidents involving its members and their families. These led the court to ask the judge to “desist” in threatening “ungodly reprisal.” The judge blames elf Luis, the “avenger,” who he says wants to clean up corruption in the legal system.
In finding the judge unfit to serve, the court noted he claimed not to rely on his elfin pals in deciding cases. “However, such beliefs, especially since Judge Floro acted on them, are at odds with the critical and impartial thinking required of a judge under our judicial system,” the court wrote. That’s good news.
Source: James Hookway, “Ex-Judge Consults Three Wee Friends, Mr. Floro Loses His Job But Becomes a Celebrity; Using a Little Elfin Magic,” The Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2007.
A New Hampshire prison inmate who sent a federal judge a hard-boiled egg to protest his prison diet got an equally unusual response from the judge, who mimicked Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.
The judge wrote in response: “I do not like eggs in the file. I do not like eggs any style.” The judge ordered the egg tossed into the trash: “Today! Today! Today I say! Without delay!”
The inmate alleges prison food fails to meet “both his spiritual and medical needs,” according to an earlier decision by the court. It is set for trial at an unknown date. At issue are the adequacy of prison officials’ efforts to mesh Kosher diet requirements with his diabetes, heart problems, and high blood pressure and his intestinal intolerance for prepared Kosher meals.
The judge in his August decision ordered the state to evaluate the prisoner’s medical conditions and propose an adequate diet. Among other foods, the inmate contends he cannot consume sweets, hard-boiled eggs, bread, soy, tofu, chicken, and fish.
Source: Annmarie Timmins, “‘This egg will rot, I kid you not,’” Concord Monitor, September 21, 2007; Wolff v. New Hampshire Department of Corrections, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59192 (D.N.H. 2007).
Lawmaker, Regulate Thyself
An Illinois state legislator who is also a Chicago police officer has lost his civil suit against a fellow cop for the second time. State Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago) may appeal.
Acevedo was suing Officer Dennis Canterbury for more than $50,000 over an incident at a city auto impound lot six years ago. Canterbuy’s lawyer told the jury the state representative was “sauced” and unleashed the F-bomb when he went to the lot to get a friend’s car sprung using his “clout.”
Expert testimony showed Acevedo’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, but he denied he was drunk. Wouldn’t it have been even more embarrassing if he had been sober?
Source: Steve Warmbir, “Lawmaker loses suit vs. fellow officer, again, Taxpayers Pay, Said he was punched but maybe was ‘sauced,’” Chicago Sun Times, September 26, 2007.
An Illinois woman got more than she bargained for when she called a repairman to install a new sump pump in her basement. The installer left the new pump at her home, along with supplies, two bottles labeled as water, and one bottle labeled as ginger ale, intending to return the next day to install the pump.
Before he returned, the woman took a swig from one of the bottles. Instead of water or ginger ale, it contained battery acid to be used for the pump’s battery. She burned her mouth and is suing the repairman and the store that sold him acid in an unlabeled bottle. We say, let the thief beware.
Source: Steve Schmadeke, “Woman drinks acid, sues,” Chicago Tribune, September 17, 2007.
Which was it--a pat on the butt or “career-ending assault and battery?” It’ll be up to the judge to decide, but he may not have much choice because even a “tap” can amount legally to the crime of battery.
The suit has been brought by a female Washington DC lawyer against one of her male partners and her former law firm over an incident at a company party last year. “He says” in court documents he merely tapped her “backside.” “She says” he was intoxicated and “forcefully groped her.”
It amounts to assault and battery, she says, and it forced her to resign from the firm after its management refused to fire him. As we’ve noted before, it’s never a good idea to have a good time at an office party.
Source: Marisa McQuilken, “Former Partner Sues Firm, Partner for Alleged Groping at Party,” Legal Times, September 12, 2007.
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 http://www.heartland.org
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