Lawsuit of the Day

Donald Duck tends to be cranky; he’s not the most friendly of the Disney characters. But a Pennsylvania woman, 27, contends that Donald got way too friendly with her during a 2008 trip with her family to Epcot Center.

In a complaint posted by the Smoking Gun, April Magolon claims that she asked Donald for an autograph — who actually asks people in costumes for autographs? — and that he then grabbed her boob, “molested her,” and then made gestures “indicating he had done something wrong.” Magolon’s suing in excess of $50,000 for negligence, battery, and infliction of emotional distress. More bad news for Donald: We’ve heard that Daisy Duck is considering filing for divorce.

Gawker picked up the story and pointed out that creepy behavior on the part of Disney’s costumed characters is a bit of a trend.

The legal papers includes [sic] a helpful list of other Disney character transgressions, like the time Tigger molested a 13-year-old girl. In other news, a guy just wrote a memoir about dealing drugs while costumed as Winnie the Pooh at Epcot, and how his co-workers were furries who liked to have kinky sex in their costumes.

Disney characters are not without their defenders, though. As Mickey Mouse has not appeared to put in a good word for his furry and feathery friends, William Saletan at Slate stepped in and did some investigative reporting. He says that this may in fact be a false Tigger trigger…

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Prof. Tribe is almost 70; please don't stick him in elevators for long periods of time.

Last Sunday, the eminent constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Westling, got stuck in an elevator at the Safeway supermarket in Georgetown. (Professor Tribe is currently in D.C. to serve in the administration of his former student from Harvard Law School, Barack Obama.)

Read the (rather humorous) write-up of Tribe’s elevator incident in the Washington Post’s Reliable Source column. According to a Safeway spokesman, the company “is trying to figure out what kind of resolution is appropriate.” Options on the table include “some steaks or a gift card.”

For those of you preparing for the bar exam this week, tackle these study questions….

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Barack Obama's purported birth certificate - click to enlarge.

Orly Taitz and the Birthers aren’t the only people obsessed with Hawaiian birth certificates. A young lawyer by the name of Adam Gustafson — a 2009 graduate of the Yale Law School and former vice president of the Yale Federalist Society, who’s currently clerking in Hawaii for Judge Richard Clifton (9th Cir.) — is making a federal case over them.

And Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway, the district court judge who wound up with the case, is not impressed. She recently dismissed Gustafson’s complaint — in forceful fashion:

This case is an example of why people who overreact to situations are accused of “making a federal case out of nothing.”

Plaintiff Adam Gustafson and his wife… proceed pro se against various state officials. The Gustafsons complain about having been asked to state their race and any Spanish origin on a birth certificate registration form submitted in October 2009 for their Hawaii-born daughter. The Gustafsons articulated to the State their objection to a birth certificate identifying their races.

The court has no quarrel with the Gustafsons’ wish for a birth certificate devoid of such information. What follows, though, shows questionable judgment.

Ouch — quite the benchslap. Gustafson’s boss, Judge Clifton, should keep Gustafson far away from any appeals of decisions by Judge Mollway.

Filing a federal lawsuit in Hawaii, while clerking in Hawaii for a federal judge? It’s gutsy of Gustafson. At least he won’t have to travel far for any appearances.

So what about Gustafson’s case reflects “questionable judgment”?

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I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often. A student is demanding that his law school admit to scamming him out of money in open court.

And why? The student isn’t trying to recover tuition dollars directly from the school. Instead, the student is involved in the arduous process of trying to get his debts discharged through bankruptcy. As we’ve mentioned repeatedly, you can’t discharge student loans through the bankruptcy process absent a showing of undue hardship.

The student is named Kenneth Desormes. The school is Charlotte School of Law. And he wants Charlotte to admit what they did to him…

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Based on our report about the UVA super-awesome-happy law student, a lot of people seem to be confused about how the internet works. So, as a public service, let’s go over the rules:

Rule 1: If it ends up on the internet, everybody can see it.
Rule 2: If everybody can see it, it’s possible everybody will see it.
Rule 3: After everybody sees it, all bets are off.

Are we clear? Okay then.

Tonight we have a story about a couple of kids in California who understood these rules. They tried to keep their beer pong exploits off the internet. But the internet never loses, and now they’re suing…

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The meteoric rise of Facebook has tended to inspire lawsuits by those who claim to have collaborated with Mark Zuckerberg in the site’s creation. The latest to make a claim on the 500-million-member site is a wood chipper man in New York. We don’t understand how Paul D. Ceglia went from writing code to producing wood pellets, but so be it.

In his lawsuit (via Gawker), he claims to have made a contract with Zuckerberg in 2003 to help design “The Face Book” for $1,000 plus 50% of the site’s revenue, with an added 1% per day until the site was launched. This sounds like the stupidest (and most typo-ridden) contract ever — Zuckerberg went to Harvard and this guy chops wood, so we’re skeptical (though we do know the Ivy League doesn’t teach common sense).

The Guardian reports that Facebook has “dismissed the case as ‘frivolous’ and ‘outlandish’, said it will fight it vigorously and pointed out that a lawsuit over a contract broken in 2003 is ‘almost certainly barred’ by the statute of limitation.”

The judge in Allegheny County Supreme Court is taking the claim very seriously though. Judge Thomas Brown has frozen Facebook’s assets while the case is pending…

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I kind of blew my Star Wars referential load when we found out that the Star Wars Kid was going to law school. But that was weeks ago. Who could have known that in the past month Lucasfilms would become embroiled in some actual legal battles? Earlier this week, we found out that pregnant women have a bad feeling about working for the company. And on Tuesday, CNN reported that Lucasfilms sent a cease-and-desist letter to a laser pointer company because their product looks too much like the iconic lightsaber:

“Star Wars” creator George Lucas wants to force a laser company to stop making a new, high-powered product he says looks too much like the famous lightsaber from his classic sci-fi series.

Lucasfilm Ltd. has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Hong Kong-based Wicked Lasers, threatening legal action if it doesn’t change its Pro Arctic Laser series or stop selling it altogether.

I actually own a full sized lightsaber replica (of course I do — do I look like I got laid ever in high school). It lights up (red, d’uh, have you met me?), and it makes all the sounds when you swing it around. And let me tell you, this laser product looks nothing like a real lightsaber…

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Stripping might not be the oldest profession, but it is certainly a lucrative one. It’s a low impact way for some women to make a little extra money — and it’s legal. But how many women have availed themselves of this sensual revenue enhancement? If the New York Post is to be believed, strippers are all around us! And they’d like to keep their secret identities, well, secret:

Nearly two dozen current and former dancers for Rick’s Cabaret — including moms of school-age children — filed court papers yesterday seeking to block lawyers from contacting them about a pending class-action employment suit against the Midtown jiggle joint.

No word on whether the strippers are also seeking an injunction to place a gag order on Texas alum Vince Young

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Exciting news. Starbucks has just launched its new However-You-Want-It Frappuccino® product, “allowing customers to create a blended beverage that is uniquely their own…. the same way they customize their favorite Starbucks espresso beverage.”

Sounds delicious! But if you order your Frappuccino with extra ice, and then experience brain freeze, don’t turn around and sue Starbucks.

Or maybe do turn around and sue Starbucks? Even though lawsuits based on allegedly unreasonable beverage temperatures have become national jokes, memorialized in popular culture (e.g., Seinfeld episodes), they still keep getting filed — and, presumably, settled.

The latest lawsuit has been filed against Starbucks, for excessively hot tea….

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I am by no means an expert on cutting down trees. If you hand me a chainsaw, I am far more likely to injure myself than any wood in my immediate area. But if the people from Ax Men kidnapped me and forced me to chop my way out of their trailer park hideout, there are some basic mistakes I’d avoid.

First and foremost, I wouldn’t cut down anything I was leaning on at the time I started chopping. You don’t need to be a lumberjack in order to understand Newtonian physics. That knowledge puts me way ahead of an Englishman named Peter Aspinall. The Telegraph reports:

Peter Aspinall, 64, had been asked to prune a sycamore tree in the grounds of a hotel, but instead of leaning his ladder against the trunk he placed it against the branch he was hacking down.

When the branch fell it took Mr Aspinall with it, 14ft to the ground below. He broke his heel, damaged his ligaments and had to spend ten days in hospital recovering from surgery on his injuries.

When I first read the lede of the story, I thought the tipster sent it to me as another candidate for a Drinking Ban Order. But no, having been injured by his own amazing stupidity, Aspinall decided he needed to sue somebody.

His target: the employer who asked him to cut down the branch in the first place…

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