The happy divorce

03 March 2012 By Lawyers Weekly

Disco dentist dances his way to courtThe dentist’s chair. Most people hate it. The bright lights blinding your retina, the sheen of white coats cascading into the cracks of your helplessly…

Disco dentist dances his way to court

The dentist’s chair. Most people hate it. The bright lights blinding your retina, the sheen of white coats cascading into the cracks of your helplessly squinting eyes. And, the strange melange of mint and tooth resonate a horror that most people only want to encounter yearly at the most.

Imagine then, one poor woman, Brandy Fanning, whose dentist was so busy dancing away to the ‘70s hit, “Car Wash” that the drill bit he was using punctured the woman’s nasal cavity, lodging near her eye socket. Disco Stu he was not.


Fanning was forced to undergo emergency surgery and spent three days in the hospital because of the mishap and is seeking US$600,000 ($660,000) compensation for her medical expenses, pain and suffering, Associated Press reported.

According to the lawsuit, the ironically-named dentist, George Trusty was “performing rhythmical steps and movements to the song ‘Car Wash’”, which was on the radio in the dental suite. The suit alleges that Trusty gave Fanning some anaesthetic while he was drilling to break the molar into quadrants before the extraction. After the bone crunching snap that left the drill bit lodged near Fanning’s eye, Trusty tried to use a metal hook to pull the bit out, but that only pushed it farther up, driving it through the sinus and bone, according to the submissions. He then told her it would be fine and she would sneeze out the drill.

On Fanning being alarmed at the incident Trusty called an oral surgeon who instructed her to get to an emergency room immediately. She said doctors later told her if she had sneezed with the bit still inside, she could have blinded her left eye. Whoops! Fanning claimed she is suing Trusty because he reneged on a promise to pay her medical bills.

Quote of the week … circa March 1853

“The one great principle of English law is to make business for itself” — Charles Dickens, Bleak House.

Lawyers Weekly Discover

Defendant nearly gets stung

A man who came to a court hearing wearing a yellow-striped bumblebee outfit in protest to what he called a sting operation by prosecutors almost left the courtroom in another type of garb — prison uniform.

CNN has reported that Conrad J Braun, decked out in his costume — which included yellow stripes, a foot-long stinger, and wings — was in Johnson County (Kansas) District Court to hear a judgment on a blackmail case filed against him.

Apparently, District Judge John Anderson III was not amused by Braun’s satirical guise. The judge scalded Braun, saying that although there was no rule prohibiting the wearing of such a suit in court, the judge has a duty to uphold court decorum. Braun assured the judge that he meant no contempt to the court and promised he would not do it again.

His case did not go to trial.

World wide weirdness

Law is a strange thing that lots of people take for granted, willingly giving up their freedom to be bound in life by an omnipotent, undefined force. But sometimes laws are downright strange, hypocritical, pointless, and farcical. Folklaw has found a few Australian laws that merit such criticism. But don’t worry, it is not the Australian bill of rights because there isn’t one.

While Folklaw is unable to test the veracity of the following little-known legal anomalies — having been sourced from — they are good examples of history forgetting about convention, and thrusting dated law into modern times for us to look at with a puzzled brow.

According to the site, in NSW children may not purchase cigarettes, but can smoke them; you may never leave your car keys in an unattended vehicle; and it is illegal to roam the streets wearing black clothes, felt shoes and black shoe polish on your face, as these items are the haute couture of well-dressed cat burglars. (Glad Folklaw knows this now so it can alter its cat burgling gear to less conspicuous attire.)

It is also illegal to read someone’s tarot, or give them a psychic reading as these are forms of witchcraft. Folklaw feels this law should be enforced more readily, and is happy to lead those that will follow on a witch hunt. Also weirdly, under Australian Communications Authority (ACA) regulations, your modem can’t pick up on the first ring. If it does the ACA permit for your modem is invalid and there’s a $12,000 fine under the Telecommunications Act 1991. Good luck policing that one, chaps.

It’s not just us with legal rarities filling reams of our constitutional fabric. In the UK, those wishing to use a television must apply for a license but fortunately won’t have to pass a test. It is also illegal to leave baggage unattended and picking up abandoned baggage in the Queens dominion is an act of terrorism. (Again, good to know, as Folklaw is a recidivist, closet kleptomaniac, and if an unattended bag is there in the airport, it will soon be attended to.)

En France, between the hours of 8am and 8pm, 70 per cent of the music in the radio must be by French composers. And, in Thailand, it is illegal to leave your house if you are not wearing underwear and you must also wear a shirt while driving a car. (Thank fully, Folklaw wasn’t arrested.)

The happy divorce

Folklaw was amused this week to discover the concept of “collaborative law”. Applied in family law situations it is a method not unlike mediation that tries to bring the painful separation of families to a benign and cost-effective end.

It is touted as the “happy divorce” in the US where it has had great success. Now the method spreads its wings and heads for the Gold Coast, coming hurtling into the practice of a law firm near you.

Though the literature that accompanies this “alternative process” reads more like a counselling paper than a serious legal enterprise, Folklaw does agree that it can be productive to have more diverse alternative dispute resolution avenues than litigation.

Nevertheless this new concept is a cheesy one. A particularly funny website, portray couples merrily holding hands as they pull each others hearts out through their wallets. The pictures show an idyllic scene with children playing happily as Mummy and Daddy go about “mediating” their acidic bilious hate for each other with a wink and a smile.

Another website in the US is also good for a snigger with a beaming elder and a child shown in front of a wistful mother who looks on blissfully, having made the right choice.

The whole concept looks a little too American for Folklaw’s logic, and the fuzzy buzzwords or “fuzzwords” that are bandied around the site are not dissimilar to the mumblings of the Care Bears. Perhaps this is a very cynical approach. Perhaps there should be avenues that couples can traverse when looking for a peaceful, amicable break of legal title without the emotional distress that can often ensue. Or maybe, if you’re going to divorce you should not gloss over it but rather be treated as an adult instead of a flower-in-your-hair-wearing innocent.

G’day mate, that’s a bloody big apple

Good day. According to itself, big time New York firm White & Case is one of the most multicultural around. The firm’s latest job advertisement to entice would be recruits into its hallowed legal halls boasts that it has over 35 offices scattered around 23 countries. Further inflating its own magnitude, the firm tells candidates that it has almost 5,000 staff and 85 nationalities who speak more than 60 languages including that little known tongue — Australian.

In a bid to get legal battlers to cross the globe, the firm has declared itself a speaker of our home lingo. Folklaw can’t speak American nor really understand it, so it’s very fortunate that the high-flying company is so full of empathy and cultural understanding that it can in fact stoop to learning a new and difficult language. Perhaps their next step could be to learn English, another testing international lexicon.

Yet, Folklaw hopes that young legal grommets, upon stepping foot in the firm, aren’t confronted with a barrage of Germanic natter after the firm has accidently become well versed in Austrian. It could happen and out of the quarter of Americans with a passport Folklaw would bet money there a few that come to our shores expecting a good sausage, a well-hopped beer, some alpine skiing and festive dancing. Actually the two nations are similar when put like that.

Nevertheless, Folklaw is sure that the firm will be disappointed when they discover that its new “Aurrssie” lawyers aren’t the best at wrestling crocs, don’t carry Bowie knives and can only really hit the lasso with any gusto after a few beers.

Better late than never

Courts have always had a bit of a reputation for being delay-ridden, but up in Darwin they’ve taken things to a whole new level. As reported on the website Northern Territory News, 46-year-old Darren Leigh Broad was brought before the Darwin Magistrate’s Court last week after he was caught drink driving … 27 years ago.

The Court heard that back in 1980, Broad was caught drunk behind the wheel of his panel van, swerving from side to side, with a half-drunk bottle in a cooler and an esky full of beer in the passenger seat. What Folklaw finds perhaps even more astounding is the fact that he was able to start the van in the first place. When Broad was pulled over, the van was found to have no doors, no windscreen, no mud guards, no muffler, no tail lights, no bonnet, no head lights, bald ties, an “excessive” engine leak. Oh, and it was unregistered.

Broad’s response? “I must have been a bit silly” he told the Court. Apparently, the matter had fallen between the cracks because of a mix up with the Court’s paperwork and only resurfaced a few months ago when a policeman searched Broad’s records after an unrelated altercation. Broad pleaded guilty to drink driving, dangerous driving, driving without due care and driving an unregistered and uninsured motor vehicle. He was convicted on all charges but allowed to leave the Court without penalty. According to Magistrate John Lowndes, the case was “bordering on ancient”.

Rudd v Fudd

Given that election time is in the air, Folklaw has scaled the high walls of internet research and discovered one amusing political video, and feels that now would be a good time to share it. Created and performed by Sydney-based comedic band, Axis of Awesome ( and available on YouTube , the rap spoof shows caricatures of the two law-making campaigners going head-to-head, Eminem style in a mammoth battle for public support.

A John Howard impersonator, clad in the customary fake eye brows and freshly polished dome has some glorious repartee to serve to his opponent. He busts the opening word bomb. “I’ve been here since ’96 and I’m doing swell, taking care of young and old as well, from the city to the surf to the RSL. What up my diggers?” This isn’t Detroit but you could be forgiven such a thought as Peter Garrett retorts with the rallying ghetto cry of “opposition in the house”, before Kevin Rudd proceeds to launch into a classic Jay-Z style reply. He informs listeners that they should “make way for me, I’m the R—U- Double D”. And “call me Kevin, ’cause I’ll rock you in ’07; if we fizzle, take a snizzle, I’ll be back in ’011”.

The best is yet to come and for those of you that haven’t noticed Howard’s resemblance to the little man with a big power to clean you’re in for a treat. Rudd mocks his adversary saying that Howard looks like Elmer Fudd and Mr Sheen (who works hard to keep floors clean). Inter-dispersed with scenes from a take-off of Ray Martin who tells viewers his name repetitively, the sketch finishes with a joke Peter Costello singing a tune to the theme of Rihanna’s “Umbrella”.

See and search Axis of Awesome.

The happy divorce
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