And not to put too hefty a point on the expression, ‘size matters,‘ it’s early in 2012 and already there’s another big guy – – – 400 lb., 55-year old Elias Diaz suing over not being properly accommodated. He says he was humiliated because the New York Department of Corrections at Rikers Island Jail didn’t have a 7X size prison uniform for him. Consequently, he was forced to wear the same sweats and tee-shirt his entire 8-month stretch. To make him whole, Diaz wants $1M in compensation. See “Big–house fatshunista suing over lil‘ jail garb” and “Supersized Inmate Files Hefty Lawsuit Against Jail.”
With so many questionable lawsuits filed each year, a blogger could spend all their time posting about them. No wonder Overlawyered has a lot to catalog.
Last year, a woman in Michigan sued the ‘Drive‘ movie distributor and the movie theater alleging the movie trailer was misleading because the film “bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film . . . having very little driving.”
And then there was Denise Keller, the San Diego mother suing “Chuck E. Cheese” claiming the restaurant’s token-operated games are unlawful slot-machine gambling devices supposedly fostering gambling addiction in kids.
And also last year, those adult children sued mom for being a bad parent, raising claims of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress from “bad mothering.” But their suit was tossed and affirmed on appeal since the adult children “failed to allege conduct that was so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency.” See Miner v. Garrity.
Or to segue into the week’s topic du jour, Rush Limbaugh vs. Sandra Fluke, a suit was brought last year by Bridgett Nickerson Boyd, a Texas woman who sued the police department for forcing her to listen to Rush Limbaugh. Her suit alleged defamation, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Is listening to Rush, “Cruel and Unusual Punishment?,” asked blogger and law professor Jonathan Turley. But what a difference a year makes for the opinionated radio provocateur still being rightly pilloried for calling Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke a “slut.”
Not only are the late night comics and Democrats having fun but his advertisers are jumping off the couch quicker than would a Shih Tzu fearing the corpulent “El Rushbo” was going to sit on her. See “Rush Limbaugh: Over 40 Advertisers Flee.”
The frivolous, the meritorious. . . .
So when it comes to lawsuits, anyone can sue – with or without a filing fee. But that’s not to say there aren’t meritorious plaintiffs who really do need their ‘day in court.’
There’s the bizarre case of Gayane Zokhrabov, a then 58-year old female bystander suing the estate of Hiroyuki Joho, a train passenger tragically struck and killed crossing the Edgebrook Metra station.
When Joho was killed, his flying body parts injured Zokhrabov. A large portion of Joho’s body that was airborne from the violent impact knocked Zokhrabov to the floor, and broke her leg and wrist and injured her shoulder. Her case had earlier been dismissed but on appeal, the state appellate court ruled “it was reasonably forseeable” that the high-speed train would kill Joho and fling his body toward the people waiting on the platform.
Only a tiny percentage of lawsuits ever get tried to a verdict, which may or may not explain why the suits just keep on coming. Like beauty, the merits are often in the eyes of the beholder, especially when aided by willing lawyer enablers.
What’s frivolous for one is meritorious for another notwithstanding that it’s a lawyer’s job and ethical duty to properly evaluate cases and to counsel clients not to maintain any suit or proceeding that is without merit and especially, to not posit frivolous arguments. But so long as people believe every wrong has an economic remedy, there will be lawyers unwilling to disabuse them of those beliefs.
Still, everyone once in a while reasonable minds may agree when something ‘s so noxiously odoriferous that it cries for relief. Take the Long Island, NY couple that last month had a plane flying overhead drop human excrement on them. Seems the plane’s lavatory might have had a leak. Contrary to what Mark Twain said about profanity providing relief denied even to prayer, choice epithets won’t be enough to make that disgusting outrage easier to bear.