Lawsuit of the Day

golden retriever dog pet lawsuit estate litigation Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re not really big on pets. Taking care of them is a lot of work, and we can barely keep our houseplant alive. So stories like this one strike us as almost insane:

A man who had not written a will left a $2 million estate, but the most hotly contested item in court has been his golden retriever, Alex. The four-way dispute over the 13-year-old pet was so intense, an attorney was appointed to represent the dog’s interest.

A guardian ad litem causa canis, perhaps?

On Monday, the judge decided the man’s divorced parents should split custody, The Commercial Appeal reported.

“At first glance, the petition seems almost frivolous, but after speaking with all parties, it is evident that this is a highly emotional issue for all involved,” said Alex’s attorney, Paul Royal, in his report to the probate court.

You had it right the first time, Mr. Royal.
P.S. A former colleague who shares our aversion to pets once quipped, “There are at least ten good reasons not to get a dog. Reasons one through nine are fecal matter.”
Judge settles intense custody battle over dog [CNN]

Whole Lesbian Sex Book Felice Newman Above the Law blog.jpgWe realize this news broke last week. But we were on vacation — and it’s just too good to omit from these pages. From Metro.co.uk:

A father in Arkansas is looking for $20,000 in compensation for his teenage sons, after they found a book in a public library called The Whole Lesbian Sex Book.

According to Earl Adams, his sons – aged 14 and 16 – were ‘greatly disturbed’ by Felice Newman’s classic lesbian sex manual, described by its publishers as ‘the most comprehensive sex guide available for lesbians.’

And now he is demanding $10,000 from the city of Bentonville for each boy. The volume has already been withdrawn from the library shelves, and the director of the library has resigned – although she is adamant she left for personal reasons, not in response to the complaints.

So what’s the basis for the $20,000 damages claim? Per Overlawyered:

[This incident] happened, Adams said, while [his sons] were browsing for material on military academies (titter ye not!). The shock to their sensibilities from exposure to the “immoral” volume resulted in the boys being “greatly disturbed” and undergoing “many sleepless nights in our house.”

Simply ridiculous. Ask these boys in five years whether they still find lesbians “greatly disturb[ing].”
Also, The Whole Lesbian Sex Book has been critically acclaimed. Check out this review:

Cure for cancer? End to world hunger? What’s left to do after the publication of Felice Newman’s definitive guide to lesbian sex? Drawing on a wide range of published sources as well as her own notoriously graphic questionnaire circulated by e-mail… Newman has compiled an exhaustively thorough how-to guide for practices as exotic as play piercings and as pedestrian as oral sex.

Umm, who describes oral sex as “pedestrian”? Sounds like mistakes are being made in this reviewer’s household.
(Also, why are we not surprised that The Whole Lesbian Sex Book has been effusively praised on, of all websites, Amazon?)
Saw sex book by mistake; $10K apiece demanded [Overlawyered]
Man seeks compensation for lesbian trauma [Metro.co.uk]
The Whole Lesbian Sex Book [Amazon.com]

Magician Tarot Card Above the Law blog.jpgFrivolous litigation: it’s an international epidemic. Yesterday, the Canadians; today the Japanese.
From the AP:

A group of Japanese magicians sued TV broadcasters on Tuesday for revealing closely guarded secrets behind a series of coin tricks, a news report said.

Forty-nine magicians are seeking $16,000 in damages from Nippon Television Network Corp. and TV Asahi Corp. for airing shows last year that revealed how magicians perform tricks involving coins…

Personally we have our doubts about these “magicians.” If they’re truly so magical, why must they resort to judicial process?
Why not just cast spells? Like a tongue-shutting curse, which could have stopped the secrets from being divulged in the first place?
Magicians Sue Over Revealed Tricks [Associated Press via Drudge]

Couch.jpg
Maybe that’s why they call it “crashing.” A roommate situation goes bad:

Recently I moved out of an undocumented sublet. … [T]he three subletters, myself included, lived at the apartment. A friend of mine crashed on the couch while he established himself in NYC for about a month. He paid for professional cleaning, picked up toilet paper, paper towels, and generally helped out where he could when he could. Now after I have moved out the other two subletters are seeking damages for him staying there. Damages in the neighborhood of ¼ of the rent for three months, treble damages on top of that to cover lawyers fees, and financial reimbursement for the repainting of the room that I stayed in.
To my knowledge, these guys don’t have a pot to piss in. If they had asked nicely for some cash from the guy I’m sure there wouldn’t have been an issue. However, with a lawyer sending certified mail to my work, to say I’m angry would be an understatement. What (if anything) are these guys able stand on in regards to real estate law?

This is the kind of situation that Professor Bob Ellickson, on whom LEWW had a massive crush in law school, would identify as a “love triangle.” Love triangle cases, Ellickson said, are the ones where the parties spent years and years in court fighting over something seemingly trivial, leading the reader to suspect that there was something else going on underneath the facts–some major grudge or mental instability that didn’t make it into the case book.

moon moons mooning Above the Law legal tabloid blog.jpgWe adore quirky lawsuits brought by high school students against school administrators. There’s something about the high school setting that fosters oddball litigation. E.g., “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”; Gifties v. Tards.
Here’s the latest such tale, from the AP:

A high school senior acknowledges he went too far when he mooned a teacher. But he thinks the decision of school officials to send him to a new school for the rest of the year was too harsh, so his family is suing.

Tyler Tillung, 18, mooned a teacher “suddenly and without thinking about the consequences” in February, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday. The teacher had declined to let him into a Feb. 21 school lip sync show that was full.

Lip sync shows: not just for show queens. Anyway, here’s the school’s response:

“Without knowing the allegations, we’re confident in the administration’s position on this case,” [School Board Attorney Jim] Robinson said. Palm Harbor principal Herman “Doc” Allen described the mooning as “disgusting” and the teacher as “traumatized.”

Traumatized? From seeing a little teenage ass crack? Seems like an overreaction.
(Unless the kid suffered from this problem. Then all bets are off.)
Fla. student who mooned teacher sues [Associated Press]

A quick follow-up to yesterday’s post about Judge Richard Posner’s opinion in the “Giftes” free speech T-shirt case.
Thanks to the commenter who brought the two drawings in the opinion exhibits to our attention. We reprint them after the jump. And we look forward to seeing them in the august pages of the Federal Reporter.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “We Hope This Makes It Into F.3d”

Richard Posner Richard A Posner Above the Law Legal Blog.jpgA detailed excerpt, plus a link to the full opinion, can be accessed here (via How Appealing). Money quote:

[T]he picture and the few words imprinted on the Brandt T-shirt are no more expressive of an idea or opinion that the First Amendment might be thought to protect than a young child’s talentless infantile drawing which Brandt’s design successfully mimics. Otherwise every T-shirt that was not all white with no design or words… would be protected by the First Amendment, and schools could not impose dress codes or require uniforms without violating the free speech of the students, a proposition sensibly rejected in the Blau case.

“[T]alentless infantile drawing”? Judge Posner, that was way harsh.
You had to rule against the plaintiffs based on the caselaw; fine. But did you really have to insult their artistic abilities? Kids are like district judges: their feelings are easily hurt.
(If you’re not familiar with this bizarre but amusing litigation, read our earlier post, available here.)
Rulings of Note from the Seventh Circuit [How Appealing]
Earlier: Lawsuit of the Day: Gifties v. Tards

Andre Chreky hair hairstylist hairstyle hairdresser Above the Law.jpgThe other day we were thinking about getting a massage. We consulted our trusty Washingtonian magazine, which has a “Spas We Love” article in its February 2007.
One appealing option was Andre Chreky. Washingtonian picked it as a top choice for the “busy executive” (that’s us). And it’s only a few blocks away from our apartment.
But now we’re wondering whether to take our business elsewhere. From the AP:

Andre Chreky, a prominent Washington hairdresser who used to cut first lady Laura Bush’s locks, is the target of his second sexual harassment lawsuit in a little more than four months.

An ex-employee said Chreky routinely demanded sexual favors, grabbed and touched her and made humiliating comments about her appearance and her husband’s sexual prowess. When she rebuffed him, Chreky retaliated by taking away clients, refusing to accommodate her during her pregnancy and ultimately firing her, the plaintiff, Ronnie Barrett, said in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Huge, huge news. There’s a straight male hairdresser? In DC?
Chreky allegedly has a pattern and practice of engaging in such harassment of his employees:

Lawyers for Chreky and his salon denied Barrett’s allegations. Chreky is fighting similar charges by another former employee, Jennifer Thong, who sued in September.

Civil actions are also expected from Pamela Pasties and Gina G’String, former employees who left the salon late last year.
P.S. As reported by the Washington Post, Chreky was previously ordered by the state of Virginia to pay child support to yet another former employee, after a paternity test found a 99.99 percent probability that he was the father of her son. But he took the matter to court, where he challenged the accuracy of the test and ultimately prevailed.
Hairdresser to the Elite Faces New Lawsuit [Associated Press]

Harley Lewin Harley I Lewin Greenberg Traurig Above the Law.jpgCharney v. Sullivan & Cromwell isn’t the only discrimination lawsuit against a large law firm kicking around New York Supreme Court these days. Earlier this month, a complaint was filed in the case of Yasmin Marinaro v. Greenberg Traurig LLP.
Meet Harley I. Lewin (at right), a shareholder (partner) in the New York office of Greenberg Traurig LLP. According to his firm bio, he’s the head of their trademarks and global brand strategies practice.
And according to allegations made by Yasmin Marinaro, a Latina female who previously worked as his administrative assistant, Harley Lewin:

– described her to two male clients, within her earshot, as a “hot tomato”;

– told these two clients that they should “check her out,” then called her into his office, “whereupon Lewin and his male guests ogled her”;

– referred to her by the nickname “Chiquita Banana”;

– ordered her into his office, “whereupon he would instruct her to view sexually explicit and inappropriate emails”;

“encourag[ed] her to gain weight so that she would be more sexually attractive”;

– attempted to intimidate her into not coming forward with her allegations by sending her an email entitled “Be Careful,” in which he urged her to “keep [her] own counsel”; and

– played a role in her allegedly retailatory firing from Greenberg Traurig.

Juicy allegations — and there’s more in the full Complaint.
Alas, we don’t have enough time to do it justice right now. But we’ll surely have more to say next week about the case of Marinaro v. Greenberg Traurig LLP. If you’d like to read the Complaint for yourself, we’ve provided a link below.
Yasmin Marinaro v. Greenberg Traurig LLP [New York Supreme Court (PDF)]
Harley Lewin bio [Greenberg Traurig]

nerd nerd nerd Above the Law geek dork.jpgHere’s an interesting appeal that was recently argued before the Seventh Circuit. From the Chicago Sun-Times (via Ted Frank):

Four years ago, the “Gifties” of Beaubien School lost in the principal’s office. Then, this class of gifted eighth-grade students lost in U.S. district court.

Undeterred, Thursday the group went before one of the highest courts of the land, arguing their principal violated First Amendment free speech rights when he punished them for wearing T-shirts with the word “Gifties” on them.

“There’s a certain point when you have to stick up for your rights,” said Michael Brandt, one of 24 gifted students who sued their principal and the Chicago Board of Education. His mother, Irene Dymkar, is representing the students in the class action lawsuit.

At oral argument, Judge Richard Posner sounded unsympathetic to their cause:

“Why do people bring lawsuits for such trivialities?” Judge Richard Posner, a notoriously tough jurist, asked Dymkar during a three-judge hearing of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Thursday. “Have they been harmed, these ‘Gifties’?”

“Trivialities”? C’mon, Judge Posner — have a heart! Surely you, a genius among geniuses, should be sensitive to the plight of “gifties.”

Chicago Public Schools lawyers say Kotis was protecting the kids from possible attacks by regular education students. They argue there were tensions between the groups and Kotis had outlawed the word “gifties,” as well as “tards,” used to refer to regular education students….

The gifted students claim there was no safety issue.

We admire the appellants’ chutzpah. It takes guts to label your classmates “tards.”
But we question their assertion that there was no safety issue. They might as well have worn T-shirts reading, “I’m a nerd. Please beat the crap out of me.”
Kids pit principle vs. their principal [Chicago Sun-Times via Overlawyered]
T-shirt battle before Seventh Circuit [Overlawyered]

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