Lawsuit of the Day

This is an artichoke. Warning: don't eat the whole damn thing.

Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke.

– Margo Channing (Bette Davis), All About Eve

Warning: consumption of artichokes can be hazardous to your health. Especially if you eat the entire thing, leaves and all.

This is a lesson that Arturo Carvajal, a doctor in Miami, learned the hard way. According to Dr. Carvajal, in May 2009 he ate at a Houston’s restaurant in Miami Beach, where he ordered the grilled artichoke special. Having never eaten an artichoke before, he ate the whole thing — including the tough, practically inedible outer portion of the leaves.

After doing so, Dr. Carvajal experienced… tummy trouble. One “exploratory laparotomy” later, he learned that he had artichoke leaves stuck inside his bowel. Oy.

Now, Dr. Caravajal is suing….

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No helmet could have saved Matthew Kenney.

On occasion, I get accused of “blaming the victim.” I think that’s unfair. Really, I think I just know the difference between “suicide” (which is something you do to yourself) and “homicide” (which is something somebody does to you).

For instance, if you purposefully ride your bike off of a cliff, that’s a suicide. If, on the other hand, you are riding your bike and minding your own business, and somebody plows into you at 83 miles per hour and you die, that’s a homicide. Somebody killed you.

If the person who ended your life later turns around and sues your parents for allowing you to be killed by a motor vehicle traveling 83 miles per hour, that is blaming the victim.

And that is precisely what a convicted manslaughterer, David Weaving, is doing to the parents of Matthew Kenney. He’s filed a $15,000 counterclaim against the Kenneys from the lunacy of his own jail cell…

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There is nothing I hate more than people who try to use the law to change the facts of history or science. I hate when Creationists try to take their Sunday School teachings into science class. I hate when Confederates try to retell the “War of Northern Aggression” in a way that ignores the abject racism that started the entire conflict. And I hate when parents sue because history textbooks aren’t sanitized to include enough bunny rabbits and rainbows when they are educating children about slavery.

That last thing is new. I only realized parents like this existed when I read a story in the Macomb Daily (gavel bang: ABA Journal). Apparently an African-American parent got angry over “outrageous statements” in a textbook used in his daughter’s class. The outrage: the textbook used the n-word… in the context of teaching children about the history of slavery in this country.

He claims his daughter was traumatized by the book, and he’s seeking more than $25,000 damages from the school.

Please God, let’s hope he doesn’t get it. Everybody should be “traumatized” by slavery when they first hear about it in grade school. It was a goddamn traumatic thing to put people through. And we can’t live in a world where that trauma is banished from our history books….

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Earlier this week, we brought you the story of Nelson v. Jones Day — a discrimination lawsuit filed against Jones Day by Jaki Nelson, an African-American woman who worked at JD for almost 18 years. Some of the allegations in Nelson’s complaint — use of racial slurs by firm partners and administrators, sex scandals, and rampant bullying — were salacious and incendiary. If you haven’t already done so, read more about them in our earlier post.

As litigators well know, however, there are two (or more) sides to every story. And this lawsuit is no exception.

(We’re reminded of Aaron Charney’s lawsuit against Sullivan & Cromwell, alleging anti-gay discrimination. Based on the same reporting, some viewed that lawsuit as Philadelphia: The Sequel, while others saw it as an oversensitive and entitled associate suing a firm with no anti-gay bias — and numerous gay partners and associates.)

After we published our post, sources came forward to defend Jones Day and the lawyers mentioned in the complaint — and to dish dirt on the plaintiff, Jaki Nelson….

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UPDATE (7/25/2011): Please note that this case, making allegations that Jones Day describes as “baseless and inflammatory,” has been dismissed.

Oh boy. Discrimination lawsuits filed by former employees against law firms can get pretty salacious. But we haven’t seen a complaint this juicy since Allgood v. Williams Mullen (aka the “cucumber incident”), or maybe Braude v. Maron Marvel (girl-on-girl sexual harassment in Delaware).

This latest lawsuit is captioned Nelson v. Jones Day. It was actually filed back in September, but it only seems to be coming to light now. It was covered last week by eBossWatch, then picked up today by the ABA Journal.

The allegations — which include claims of Jones Day partners and staff supervisors using racial slurs, junior associates “treat[ing] office staff like servants,” and office affairs and sex scandals — are not to be missed….

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John Bisnar and Brian Chase, of Bisnar Chase


We first mentioned this lawsuit, which was filed back in August, last month (second item). But so many of you have emailed us this AOL news story that we’ve decided to provide more detailed coverage.

It’s a lawyer versus lawyer lawsuit, usually the ugliest kind of litigation. But the allegations made here are perhaps more bizarre than ugly.

If you can handle claims of naked men engaging in hand-to-weiner contact, while sitting on tree stumps and passing around a wooden dildo — I think glass is more classy, but to each his own — then keep reading….

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A prophet, who now goes by the name “Rael,” once encountered space aliens who told him the secret of life. Later, his followers, “the Raelians,” set up an advocacy group to expose pedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church. But the group’s work was frustrated when Pope Benedict XVI (a.k.a. Joe Ratzinger) covered up the crimes of Catholic priests, in an effort to discredit the Raelians and suppress their message.

If I were writing fiction, this would be about the point where Tom Hanks holds a black light up to a window in Washington National Cathedral to reveal the precise location of Area 51. But before he can tell anybody, Al Pacino (heretofore unobtrusively sitting in a pew, drinking a glass of orange juice) makes Hanks an offer he can’t refuse.

But this isn’t fiction; this is the real world. In the real world, there is only one way to handle this kind of massive conspiracy, cover-up, and intrigue: a lawsuit.

And so it is that today, on the thirteenth of September in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, that Pope Benedict XVI finds himself sued in the High Court of Justice: Queen’s Bench Division, for tortious interference with business…

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Call it RICO not so suave. One of the nation’s biggest legal headhunting firms, Major, Lindsey & Africa, is withdrawing its RICO action against a former employee — after a federal judge offered a somewhat snarky assessment of the merits of MLA’s case.

As reported by Leigh Jones over at the National Law Journal, on Thursday attorneys for MLA submitted a notice of dismissal to Judge Colleen McMahon (S.D.N.Y.). The notice declared Major Lindsey’s intent to withdraw its claims against former Sharon Mahn, a former managing director at MLA, without prejudice, in order to bring such claims in arbitration and/or state court.

Perhaps MLA read the writing on the courtroom wall. The move to dismiss came after Judge McMahon ladled out some judicial sauce….

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Bengals cheerleader has a short-lived victory

This story may provide some good fodder for “dumb cheerleader” jokes. Sarah Jones, a high school English teacher and cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals, was understandably upset when a gossip website called TheDirty.com published an article entitled “The Dirty Bengals Cheerleader,” asking, “Why are high school teachers freaks in the sack?”

According to Jones’s December 23, 2009 complaint, the article, published on December 7, 2009, quoted a commenter who alleged that Jones had slept with all the members of the Bengals team and had STDs. The complaint for defamation, libel, and invasion of privacy states that Jones’s school had seen the post and that her students had commented on it. Hopefully, not with insight into how freaky she is in the sack…

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Ed. note: This post is by “The Gobbler,” one of the two writers under consideration to join Morning Dockette as a Morning Docket writer. As always, we welcome your thoughts in the comments.

Lawyers tend to define their careers by numbers (school rank, class rank, firm rank) – at least when the numbers are to their liking. Unfortunately for Larry Joe Davis, he does not have a good number (a 3.7 out of 10). He is angry about it and, like any good American, expressed his anger in the form of a lawsuit. Larry Joe’s rambling 21-page complaint, which he of course filed pro se, makes him the latest of several plaintiffs to take a shot at Avvo, the Zagat-esque rating website for the legal industry. I haven’t read the other complaints, but I’m still sure his is the worst of the group.

It reads like a Jack Kerouac novel, jumping around and running together, making it harder to follow than a screenplay-style blog post. The two main points seem to be that Avvo has a “routine business practice of publishing false and misleading information regarding attorneys” and that it coerces attorney participation via a “join-us-and-fix-it-or-else strategy” that “approaches actionable blackmail.” In other words, Larry Joe doesn’t like what’s on his profile and can’t figure out how to change it. His Internet ineptitude seems far-fetched at first, but given his statement in the complaint that web searching is a “new field,” maybe he really can’t figure it out.

So what “misleading information” is making Mr. Davis one of the mad ones?

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