At least some Americans are sick of lawsuits
Citizens in the US are trying to do what they can to stem the near-endless tide of laughable lawsuits in the country by banding together via website www.sickoflawsuits.org.
The site’s mission statement says that the campaign was created because the American civil justice system “is under attack by personal injury lawyers who game the legal system for personal profit in the name of ‘consumer protection’,” and claims to have over 165,000 supporters.
“The reality is that consumers are the ones getting fleeced,” the website says. “These abusive lawsuits harm the economy and job creation, threaten our access to affordable, quality health care, and delay justice for the truly injured by clogging our courts. Ultimately, lawsuit abuse hurts all of us.”
The group is agitating for a reformed system that “would compensate those who are injured without costly and time-consuming litigation while preventing our legal system from being hijacked by personal injury lawyers and run-away litigation”.
Americans are urged by the website to contact the Federal Trade Commission to ask for “stricter guidelines on personal injury lawyer advertising”, which the group says “uses misleading, inflammatory and baseless claims to scare consumers”.
“Tell them you’re not going to stand for personal injury lawyers’ scare tactics,” the group advises.
Scots will need licence for sporrans
Readers of Scottish heritage may be alarmed at proposals to force kilt wearers to obtain a licence for their sporrans.
New Scottish legislation, in line with EU laws designed to protect endangered species, may leave those who wear sporrans open to prosecution, the BBCreported.
Under the laws, animals such as otters, which were killed since 1994 and turned into these decorative clothing items, are protected. The licence is designed to prove that such animals were killed legally.
This is a continuation of already existing laws that protect other endangered species, such as badgers, deer, wildcats, hedgehogs, bats, lynx, moles, seals, whales, dolphins and porpoises, the BBCreported.
Association of Tartan Army Clubs spokesperson, Hamish Husband, questioned how the laws would be enforced, give that many football fans wear traditional dress in support of the national team.
“Are the police going to take DNA samples from the sporran of every kilted supporter who walks into Hampden?” Husband said. “If that’s the case we will need to look into obtaining a licence to cover the entire Tartan Army.”
The maximum penalties for breaking the law are a fine of £5,000 ($11,782) and six months in prison, the BBCreported.
Man disguised as tree robs bank
A man from Manchester, New Hampshire, unsuccessfully robbed a bank with little more than a few tree branches taped to his head and body.
Footage of the incident shows James Coldwell, 49, enter the bank with a makeshift foliage disguise, wait patiently in the queue, and then demand cash from the teller, FoxNews.com reported.
Sadly for the robber, his face was clearly visible among the leaves affixed to his head. He was met with more misfortune when a dye pack attached to his loot exploded.
Police arrested Coldwell at his home some time later. It is unclear whether he was still wearing any branches at the time.
Woman sues as chewy lolly too chewy
God bless America — for without its lawsuit-mad citizens these pages would be much harder to fill.
This week, Michigan resident Victoria McArthur is suing Mars Inc, makers of Starburst Fruit Chews, because she alleges the product is dangerously chewy, even though the Starburst website says “our four juicy fruit flavours — orange, strawberry, lemon and cherry — do you right every time”.
According to McArthur, the confectionary giant has acted improperly by not adequately warning on its packaging that the lollies may be hard for denture wearers to swallow, FoxNews.com reported. Apparently the name of the product itself wasn’t adequate warning of the snack’s malleable qualities.
“I don’t want to see anybody else have to go through what I have gone through from eating a piece of candy that was supposed to be soft chew,” McArthur said according to FoxNews.com.
McArthur wants US$25,000 ($29,071) for permanent damage to her jaw, difficulty sleeping, humiliation, and mental anguish. Thankfully, some Americans have already spoken out against the lawsuit, possibly spurred on by the humiliating defeat of judge Roy L Pearson in a recently failed attempt to get US$54 million ($63 million) from his dry cleaners for a pair of “missing” pants (Lawyers Weekly 7 July 2007).
“I think it’s a ludicrous lawsuit,” said Ted Frank, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Liability Project, which researches liability law and frivolous lawsuits. “It’s an example of why we have such outrageous warnings on everyday products.”
At last — retractable table for your toilet!
For those patent lawyers out there who may be bored with the run-of-the-mill inventions coming their way, website patentlysilly.com offers a host of ridiculous items that have won approval in America.
Take for instance “Retractable Table Top for a Toilet” (US patent number 6,983,493). As the sketch on the website shows, this device is essentially a fold-down table, balancing on two legs, that attaches to the wall by two arms either side of your favourite throne.
According to patent owner Rafik Shaumyan, his invention is a “device for providing a working surface while a user is seated on a toilet”.
This raises the obvious question — what work are people currently doing on the toilet that a table will assist? Folklaw has heard of those who like to read books, magazines and newspapers while on the can, and they would certainly benefit from having somewhere to rest their arms or literature of choice. Perhaps crossword lovers will appreciate having a flat surface to work on? Or solitaire players could to get in a couple of rounds in-between their other duties?
As Shaumyan’s patent submits, “the toilet seat can more rightly be called ‘the throne’ if certain conditions are met above and beyond the simple support and flush provisions”.
“A supply of toilet paper needs to be furnished and at a convenient location or locations, not a marginally accessible location. A supply of reading material from which a selection can be made is usually welcome, and for some an ashtray, cigarettes and matches are needed.”
But what comes next in the patent application is somewhat stranger: “some may prefer to prepare notes such as shopping lists, and these will need pencil and notepaper and backing for the note paper,” Shaumyan said.
Folklaw would like to hear from any readers who plan the week’s meals while enjoying some toilet time, if any exist.
New bride attacks groom with shoe
A bride’s fairytale day went slightly wrong when she was arrested after attacking her new husband in the head with her stiletto shoe.
Teresa Brown, 33, was escorted from the Hilton Aberdeen Treetops hotel by police in April while guest were still downing the free booze in the hotel’s reception room, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. They had been called by the staff behind the desk who found the groom, Mark Allerton, 40, with a bloody towel held to his head, prosecutor Alan Townsend told the Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
“He indicated that his wife had struck him over the head with a stiletto heel,” the prosecutor said.
When the police arrived, they found Allerton in his room, with broken glass lying on the floor. Brown told police she and her husband had “been accusing each other of different things”, Townsend said. In her defence, Brown said her husband had grabbed her, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The bride was not found guilty of assault, but was fined £250 ($589) for damaging the room, and £500 ($1,177) in compensation to the hotel.
Juror tunes out with hidden headphones
Trial lawyers who might worry that jurors aren’t paying the necessary attention to the matter at hand should be suitably horrified with news that a British juror was secretly listening to music in court.
Ruhela Khanom, 20, has been accused of hiding headphones, connected to her MP3 player, under her hijab. She was allegedly listening to music rather than taking notice of important evidence during a murder trial.
As the UK’s Daily Mail reported, another juror alerted Judge Roger Chapple when the curious sound of muffled music could be heard. Judge Chapple, in throwing Khanom out of the courtroom, said “that particular juror has given everyone in this case concern from the very outset”, the Daily Mail reported.
According to the paper, Khanom had earlier been disciplined by Judge Chapple, when she kept turning up late to court. Court staff had also shown concern about the juror, who they suspected was merely doodling rather than examining documents tendered as evidence, the paper said. The very next day she was found to be listening to music.
“There was a complaint made by a fellow juror during the course of the luncheon adjournment,” Judge Chapple said, according to the Daily Mail.
“The juror had seen wires disappearing into the juror in question’s headscarf and heard her music emanating from that juror while we were in court and everyone else listening with close attention to important evidence of the defendant.
“A member of the defence team had also noticed the wires. I said during the course of submissions I thought I heard the characteristic tinny sound of music from headphones fleetingly.”