Folklaw 11 August 2006

03 March 2012 By Lawyers Weekly

Folklaw warns its readers to be wary of their houseguests — it seems they can walk off with more than just the silverware.Earlier in July the Supreme Court awarded lodger Michael Ye…

Folklaw warns its readers to be wary of their houseguests — it seems they can walk off with more than just the silverware.

Earlier in July the Supreme Court awarded lodger Michael Ye $425,000 from the estate of Frances Lan Fong Fung, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Ye had lived in Fung’s house free of charge for more than a decade until the woman died, and even had $22,000 worth of education fees covered by his landlady.

Justice Ian Gzell found the relationship was akin to one of aunt and nephew. Importantly, Ye had assisted with chores around the house and gave Fung regular insulin injections. These acts were sufficient to secure him a chunk of her $1.5 million estate, for in leaving him no money, she had failed to make an adequate provision for his education, maintenance and advancement in life, Gzell said.


Trees felled to save nutty swimmer

Hickory dickory dock, three less trees on a Milford block.

In a bizarre, environmental pre-emptive strike, a local council in Milford, Connecticut in the US has ordered three towering hickory trees be reduced to sawdust to allow a child to swim in his grandmother’s pool.

The three-year-old grandson of Una Glennon suffers from a nut allergy. According to the family, he was once rushed to hospital after touching a bowl of cashews. Glennon made the request because the hickory nuts regularly fall into her pool where the child often swims, posing a significant threat to his health.

According to the mayor of Milford, the decision to fell the 60-foot trees was a no-brainer. In a nutshell, the mayor said “it really came down to taking a risk that child may be sick or even die”, the New York Times reported.

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Neighbours are suspicious though. Apparently Glennon had tried on three previous attempts to have the trees removed because they cast a shadow over her pool, before succeeding with the reason of her grandson’s allergy.

Crude Mel revisits Tequila Sunrise

Much has been reported about Mad Max’s arrest and consequent anti-Semitic slurs last week, but Folklaw feels he should be offered no respite in these pages.

Although the alleged comments in the course of his arrest are far from amusing, it is laughable how transparent the subsequent apologies have been.

The Lethal Weapon was pulled over in Malibu with a blood alcohol reading of 0.12, well above the Californian limit of 0.8. He then offered police officers a free history lesson, claiming that "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world".

Although his first polished apology made no mention of racial slurs, the second assured the public that Braveheart was “in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery”.

Despite how it sounded, The Patriot urged the world to “please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite".

Whether he is or not is unlikely to surface in Malibu Superior Court on September 28. The only charges he faces are misdemeanour drunken driving, driving with an excessive blood-alcohol level and carrying an open bottle of liquor in his car.

Dodgy Texan lawyers still practising

Three lawyers from San Antonio are roaming free, and two still practising law, despite their part in a failed $US2 billion extortion attempt in 1998 against DaimlerChrysler.

The American Tort Reform Association (ARTA) has expressed its outrage at the lack of haste with which the judicial system has reacted to the case of Robert Kugle, Andrew Toscano and Robert Wilson. Although they were ordered to pay almost $US1 million in sanctions, Kugle skipped the country after being disbarred and both Wilson and Toscano continue to give legal advice to unassuming Texans in need.

The fraud stems back to an insurance claim for an American man’s motor vehicle accident in Mexico. Although the wife of the driver freely admitted her husband had fallen asleep at the wheel, the lawyers had other ideas.

First they filed a product liability suit without inspecting the vehicle. Then they lied to the manufacturer’s attorney about the cause of the accident, claiming the axel broke and the wheels “popped off”. After being told by experts who examined the car in Mexico that it was in perfect working order before the crash, the lawyers engineered a mechanical fault in the steering column before the vehicle went to DaimlerChrysler for inspection.

Following this, the three fraudsters filed false affidavits and offered bribes to Mexican police officers. When one of the experts anonymously mailed his inspection report to the defendant’s attorney, the Texan lawyers, in their defence, claimed it was a forgery.

When the whole mess was unravelled, Wilson likened their failed strategy to a game of Texas Hold’em. He said they were “running a bluff and had their hand called”.

Raining cats and dogs

Well, at least dogs, in Sosnowiec, Poland.

A man survived being struck in the head by a falling St Bernard last week when its inebriated owner threw it from his second storey apartment, Reuters reported. Police are investigating claims of animal abuse following the incident.

St Bernards are known traditionally as carriers of a cask of brandy to assist in the rescue of those lost in frozen conditions. Folklaw is unsure whether brandy was the cause of the owner’s drunkenness, but thankfully, one-year-old, 50kg Oscar managed to walk away with only minor injuries.

“The dog had a soft landing because it fell on a man," said Grzegorz Wierzbicki, of the Sosnowiec police. "The man was also more in a psychological state of shock than physically hurt."

Making a mountain out of The Mole Man

An elderly Londoner, dubbed The Mole Man, has been ordered from his home after his self-constructed network of tunnels was unearthed by authorities.

Seventy-five year old William Lyttle dug the 60ft network of tunnels beneath his stately home over a period of 40 years, using a spade and pulleys to extract 100 cubic metres of soil. It allows a grown adult to stand, and in some places plunges to an 8 metre depth, according to the Daily Mirror.

The Thames magistrate heard a surveyor’s report that Lyttle was “fortunate a London bus is not in his front garden. It's liable to lead to catastrophe”, amid concerns that the entire street could cave in.

The Court issued an injunction under the London Building Act, placing Lyttle in a nearby hotel at the Council’s expense, while they consider how to fill the catacomb beneath his residence.

Bending over backwards in Indiana

An appeals court has overturned a $9 million verdict for plaintiff Christopher Berrier who injured his back in a fitness centre.

Berrier had claimed the injury was solely due to the fall he sustained on a treadmill in The Fitness Barn in Portage Township, Indiana almost eight years ago.

It was suggested that prior to the incident, his back was perfectly fine — a claim untested as the lower court had refused to allow defence lawyers to question experts about Berrier’s medical record.

Once the Court of Appeal allowed this questioning, it was discovered the treadmill was not the sole culprit after all; Berrier had also injured his back playing football and in a car accident. There was also the small matter of a fall down seven stairs at work.

Berrier has reportedly vowed to appeal the decision.

Folklaw 11 August 2006
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