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Folklaw 17 June 2005

Folklaw 17 June 2005

A real blastA worker at a West Virginia coal mine is suing a contractor and coal company for more than $13 million after he got more than he bargained for on a visit to the worksite toilet.…

A real blast

A worker at a West Virginia coal mine is suing a contractor and coal company for more than $13 million after he got more than he bargained for on a visit to the worksite toilet.

John Jenkins, 53, settled into a porta-potty at his workplace in July last year and once he’d gotten comfortable, lit up a cigarette, one would imagine to increase the pleasure of his experience. Unfortunately, he happened to be perched above a methane gas leak, and was blown out of the cosy confines of the toilet. Morgantown’s Dominion Post reported in its 2 June edition that Jenkins suffered burns to his face, neck, arms, torso and legs. It quoted Jenkins as saying “The whole thing just detonated — the whole top blew off. I can’t tell you if it blew me out the door or if I jumped out.”

Now, Folklaw thinks this was all traumatic enough to hold up a reasonable case but, naturally, the lawsuit had to take things another step. Therefore, it includes the information that Jenkins also suffered psychological damage through being forced to undergo medical and “invasive” procedures, which allegedly pushed the damages claim up by at least $8 million.

Gritty Granny

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina were forced to arrest 86-year-old Dorothy Densmore after she dialled 911 20 times in 38 minutes. Her emergency? She couldn’t get a pizza delivered to her home.

But Dorothy’s angry reaction earned her nothing but prison rations when she spent two nights behind bars. Apparently, she became indignant when the delivery was refused and someone at the pizza shop allegedly called her a “crazy old coot”. She demanded police arrest the proprietors, not imagining that the cuffs would instead be slapped on her own wrists. Dorothy, all 152 centimetres and 45 kilograms of her, was also charged with resisting arrest after she scratched, kicked and bit the hand of an officer. Next time, Folklaw imagines, the police will just deliver the pizza to the ‘old dear’ themselves.

Case of the exploding boobie

We think the Americans are starting to rival the Romanians in the regularity of their appearances in Folklaw. The great thing about America for our purposes, of course, it that it is such a litigious society.But while the Americans are yet to hit the soaring peaks of absurdity achieved by our Romanian friends, this particular tale is pretty absurd. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported recently that Arnold police Sergeant Joseph Nixon and the Allegheny Valley city were served with a lawsuit following an allegation that Nixon had thrown a suspect into a car with such force that one of her breast implants ruptured. Attorney Harry J. Smail Jr said the doctor’s notes stated the force used was equivalent to that of an automobile crash, which was the only time doctors had seen that type of injury occur. Damages of $75,000 are being sought.

Some have all the luck

Ever had one of those days when you wonder why you bothered to get out of bed? Well Folklaw would wager that this guy’s story beats it. Reiner Hamer of Oberhausen, Germany, was mugged in the toilet of a nightclub, losing his wallet and $285 as well as his mobile phone. He called police on a friend’s mobile outside the club, but as he waited for them to arrive, three other men held him up and stole his watch and cigarettes.

Astounded by his misfortune, he leant back to ponder the mysteries of fate, only to gain the attention of another five men who stole his jacket and the last of his small change. He probably would have been left with nothing but his underpants had it not been for the relatively speedy arrival of the police.

Lax lenience in sentencing

Lenience obviously wasn’t a concept understood by the judge who sentenced Junior Allen to life in prison for second-degree burglary after he stole a black and white television in 1970. Last month Allen was finally granted parole from Orange Correctional Centre in Hillsborough, North Carolina after serving 35 years of his sentence. Associated Press reported that at the time of his crime Allen was a 30-year-old farm worker from Georgia with a criminal history that included burglaries and a violent assault. He took the television, worth $140 from an unlocked house and although some state reports say he assaulted the 87-year-old woman inside, he was not convicted for assault. The penalty for Allen’s offence has since been changed to a maximum of three years. Allen told his supporters he was glad to be out of jail and wouldn’t really be happy until he saw a sign that confirmed he was outside the state of North Carolina. Who could blame him?

One more time

For those still unsure about the methodology behind this year’s Fuji Xerox Australian Law Awards, we have this to say. It is time you accepted your placement, congratulate yourselves or your competitors, whatever the appropriate response may be, and move on. It was a great event and, let’s face it, you loved the Brazilian dancers and the chance to catch up with peers — pictures prove everything. Some firms did exceptionally well, unsurprisingly, and some missed out on an accolade by the skin of their teeth. Others, well, better luck next year. But those still painstakingly splitting hairs over methodology, wondering exactly how the results were made, let us explain. You will have noticed the totals of the Awards’ percentages and ranking on page six last week added up to more than 100 per cent. The reason is, each voter was allowed to vote up to three times for each award. This means that the percentage for each award could in fact reach 300 per cent. So where Mallesons Stephen Jaques received a 39 per cent in The Legalco Banking & Finance Award, this means that 39 per cent of people who voted in that award, voted for Mallesons. They may have also given a vote to Allens Arthur Robinson, and one to Freehills, for example. It could be noted as well, that only those firms that ranked in the top four of each award were listed in Lawyers Weekly last week. For those still confused, check the www.lawawards.com.au website.

Judges beware

An Argentine judge lost his job after a court found him guilty of laziness. The conviction was made after Judge Nestor Narizano was found to be attending a psychology university when he was supposed to be working. Narizano told Terra Noticias Populares that he had been fired because he read two hours of Freud each day. To make matters worse, he was dobbed in by his secretary, who alerted police to his activities.

But the judge himself says everyone’s missing the point. “I only did this to understand better the mind of the criminals, this is not fair and it is a stain in the whole Argentine justice,” he told the newspaper.

No more donuts

Policemen in Romanian town Buzau have been warned by their newly appointed boss to lose weight or risk losing their jobs. Inspector Viorel Stefu said he took this measure because his men were “usually outrun by more robust thieves”. He said the new regulation was aimed at encouraging policemen to do more physical exercise to be better able to perform their duties.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

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Folklaw 17 June 2005
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