Legally Weird: January 2010 Archives
Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

January 2010 Archives

Smoke in Your Eyes: ACS Sues to Stop Smoking at NV Tobacco Shows

At this point most of us would agree that smoking is bad for you. It's bad for the guy standing next to the guy who is smoking. It's bad for the kids of the guy who is smoking. But here is an question, if tobacco is still a legal product in this country, and it is, maybe the one place you should be able to smoke is at a tobacco trade show? On Monday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority asked a Nevada judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the American Cancer Society seeking to stop smoking at tobacco trade shows.

No Dancing on the Park Floor: Judge Rules No Dancing At Jefferson Memorial

According to the U.S. Park Service and now a federal judge, there is to be no dancing in the interior of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. That whirring sound may well be the author of the Declaration of Independence spinning in his grave, but U.S. District Judge John D. Bates found that the memorial site is to be a place to "publicize Thomas Jefferson's legacy, so that critics and supporters alike may contemplate his place in history."

Ratted Out: Woman Gets Time for Rodent Extortion Scheme

Extortion is always a bad idea. Ask David Letterman's pal Joe Halderman. Or ask Debbie R. Miller of Appelton, Wis., who pleaded no contest to a felony extortion charge and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing police, for trying to blackmail a local restaurant after she planted a rat in her food.

Burglary Suspect Caught after Getaway in Pedal Boat

Pinellas County sheriff's deputies say they have never seen anyone use a pedal boat in a getaway.

Suspect Christopher Schaumburger opted for this unusual mode of transportation after burglarizing two homes and trying to flee.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, witnesses saw Schaumburger, 20, burglarize two homes. The police report says one victim caught Schaumburger ransacking his home.

Don't Pass the Salt! NYC Mayor Calls for Salt Reduction

Mayor Bloomberg is a stickler for healthy living! In a city that never sleeps and is known for an excess of anything and everything, it will soon be known as a place with less... less salt that is. The New York Times reports that Mayor Bloomberg's administration has announced a broad new health initiative that aims to encourage salt reduction. The salt reduction initiative is not a salt law, but it would encourage food manufacturers and food chains to reduce the amount of salt in their offerings.

The salt reduction initiative is gaining support with health agencies in other cities and states because of public health experts who recommend salt reduction as a way to prevent high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. While the initiative is not mandatory, it will allow companies to phase out salt over the next five years.

Detroit Man Arrested for Posing as a Cop

Bizarre and bold.

That's how some officials describe the case involving a 51-year-old Detroit man arrested for posing as a cop.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the man impersonating a Detroit police officer apparently interrupted a prostitution sting conducted by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.

As a female decoy officer was talking to a potential customer, the 51-year-old suspect flashed a badge and yelled at the undercover detective to "get off the street," the Detroit paper reports.

You Can't Handle The Tooth! Kid's Toothbrush Law in MA

Massachusetts wants you kids to brush your teeth! WCBV Boston reports that a new Massachusetts state law went into effect that requires day care providers to help children brush their teeth after a meal or if they spend more than four hours in daycare. According to the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care website, children must use individual labeled toothbrushes which must be stored in a safe and sanitary manner.

While this is a state law, parents can actually choose to opt out. I wonder why any parent would want to. While it is weird, it is clearly a law that is meant to promote healthy teeth! With concerns about the increase in dental disease (tooth decay) among young children, the state of Massachusetts adopted the new regulation to promote oral health and prevent tooth decay.

Alleged Car Thief Caught Playing Grand Theft Auto Video Game

If Michael Ray Ekes didn't know the difference between real life and video games, he probably does now.

The 30-year-old central Florida man and suspected car thief was nabbed by authorities, while playing the "Grand Theft Auto" video game.

It has been said that sometimes people play video games then go out to imitate the behavior that those games encourage. Perhaps that may have been what influenced Ekes's behavior but the only person who truly knows the motives is the suspect.

Karma's A B---- Will the Joker TSA Screener Get Sued?

Take it from a bunch of lawyers, somebody's gonna get sued. Yes, the full story of the dimwitted TSA screener and the unsuspecting student who was the victim of his joke bag of white powder is likely not finished.

New Yorkers Start Tracking License Plate Numbers

You may love New York, but New Yorkers certainly don't love out of state drivers! Parking in New York has never been easy, but some citizens want to change that. People living in the Woodhaven neighborhood in Queens are getting fed up with "parking hogs" taking up valuable real estate by parking their cars on the street for long periods of time. According to the New York Daily News, they are taking matters into their own hands by reporting cars with non-New York plates to their home states.

The New York Daily News quotes Edward Wendell, president of Woodhaven Residents Block Association as saying, We started looking for outside-the-box solutions for some of the quality-of-life issues. One resident said she hasn't been able to get a parking spot on her block for over a year."

The Tax Man Cometh: DOJ Sues Man for Frivolous Tax Suits

Now here is a great money making idea. Find a few hundred, let's just call them overly-optimistic clients, some with substantial income tax liabilities. Sell them pre-packaged tax protest lawsuits that falsely claim that the IRS has unlawfully disclosed customers' federal tax information or unlawfully collected taxes, for the bargain price of $7,500 a pop. Claim that if the suit is successful, they will never have to file a federal income tax return or pay federal taxes ever again!

Woman Accused of Biting off Sister's Nose, Faces Felony Charges

Bobbie J. Smith has given new meaning to the expression keep your nose out of it.

The 27-year-old Jonesville woman faces felony charges for allegedly biting off her sister’s nose.

According to the Jackson Citizen, Bobbie Smith bit Sandra Smith, 28, and one-third of her nose was gone. Police said the younger sister bit off “a significant portion” of Sandra Smith’s nose during a fight Sunday. Police recovered the detached piece.

What would you do for a fake sun tan?

According to the Associated Press, a Connecticut mother was charged with leaving her two young children in her car in freezing temperatures while she went to a sun tanning salon.

Now, Candy Ann Rock, a 28-year-old mom faces charges of first-degree reckless endangerment and two counts of leaving a child under the age of 12 unattended in a motor vehicle.

Your iPhone Makes Me Sick: Neighbor Sued for Cell Phone Use

And they say all the ahem, unique individuals live in California. Here is a dispatch of legal and possibly medical mayhem from Santa Fe, New Mexico. One Arthur Firstenberg, is suing his next door neighbor for $530,000 for making him sick. By using her iPhone. According to the excellent account by the Santa Fe Reporter, plaintiff Firstenberg claims he suffers from hypersensitivity to the low-level electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phones and Wi-Fi routers causing him "nausea, vertigo, diarrhea, ringing in the ears, severe headaches and body aches, crippling joint pains, insomnia, impaired vision [and] impaired muscular control."

Army Specialist Jailed for Rap Song Lyrics Against Military Policy

Army Spcialist Marc A. Hall wasn't happy about his assignment to be redeployed to Iraq.

So, he made up rap song lyrics to express not only how he felt but disdain for the Army's "Stop-loss" military policy of keeping soldiers in service beyond their enlistment dates.

Now, the rap song lyrics have landed the army specialist a in Fort Stewart, Georgia jail.

According to the Associated Press, Spc. Marc A. Hall has been behind bars since last month on military charges of making threats, both in conversation with members of his infantry unit and in the lyrics to his song "Stop Loss."

39 Lashes: Is Adultery A Crime in New Hampshire?

So many laws, so little time. The New Hampshire State Legislature decided to clean house a bit and review some of the older laws that are no longer relevant to a modern society. The found a terrific place to start. The Legislature is considering changing the law that applies an original criminal penalty of one year in jail or up to 39 lashes -- for adultery. Sheesh, even Hester Prynne didn't have it quite that bad. In 1992, the penalty was humanely reduced to a fine of up to $1,200. Just tack it on to the alimony bill. However, the law making adultery a crime remains.

Click it and Chick it: SCHP Tries Fast Food Giveaways

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, "do you want fries with that?" As part of a new program, the SCHP is handing out certificates for free fast food at Chick Fil-A during traffic stops, at checkpoints and at other opportunities, provided of course, y'all have your seatbelts on.

The Grandmother of all Goofs: Granny Left in Jail for 15 Days

File this one under: boy, is our legal system not perfect. The Miami Herald and CNN report this week that 78 year-old grandmother Gabrielle Shaink Trudeau was held for 15 days in jail, missing Thanksgiving with her family, for driving too slowly.

Woman Accused of Trading 2 Year Old Child for Gun

Trading goods and services without the use of money is called bartering.

But that's not exactly the case when it comes to trading your 2 year old child for a gun.

Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies arrested Tanya Nareau for allegedly trying to trade her 2-year-old child for a gun, the Associated Press reports.

Drunk in Public: Student Charged for Urninating on Nativity Scene

With his apology for urninating on an outdoor nativity scene also comes legal and educational consequences for college senior Nathan Strawn.

According to the Citizensvoice.com, the King's College senior is accused of urinating on the outdoor nativity scene in the public square of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and apologized for his behavior. He is facing charges for being drunk in public.

"I was being a drunken idiot," Strawn said in his apology.

Hot or Not? Florida Clash of the Billboard Ads Settled

This probably doesn't happen in North Dakota. But in Florida, a billboard ad announcing: "Your wife is hot! Better get your A/C fixed!" set off an all out ad war that resulted in a trademark infringement suit which finally settled out of court last week. Now we can all take a deep breath, right?

Woman Allegedly Crossed Wires on Power Tool to Shock Hubby

A woman angry that her husband left her is accused of tampering with his tools so that he would would receive a powerful electric shock when he used an electric power tool, according to court documents.

She allegedly crossed wires because she was upset at her husband for leaving her, police said.

The Olympian newspaper reports that Carolyn Paulsen-Riat, 33, was booked into county jail for investigation of third-degree assault, domestic violence, and second-degree malicious mischief. A judge released the woman on her own recognizance.

TX School Hair Raising Controversy: Cornrows No Compromise

It appears Eisenhower-era buzz cuts will soon be the order of the day at a Dallas suburban school district where the controversy rages on over 4 year-old Taylor "Tater Tot" Pugh's hair. The pre-kindergartener's hair has grown longer than is permitted by the school dress code and the tot has been isolated at school for it since November. A hearing on the matter was convened by the Mesquite School Board on Monday night.

Florida Woman Wears Public Apology Sign for Hitting Cop

A Florida woman hit a cop and now everyone knows.

Alexandra Espinosa-Amaya stood outside the Orlando Police Department with a homemade sign, apologizing for hitting a police officer. That was her punishment.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the 24-year-old college student agreed to wear the public apology sign as part of her no-contest plea to two misdemeanor charges: simple battery and resisting an officer without violence.

Amazin! Mets Fan Sues over Fat Man Falling on Her

A Mets fan is suing the Mets, the beer concession stand in CitiField (formerly known as Shea Stadium), and the union of security guards for the team. Her reason? She was literally squashed like a bug by a fellow Mets fan who weighs approximately 300 pounds.

According to the Gothamist, Ms. Ellen Massey was severely injured by a fat man falling on her during an opening day Mets game at Shea Stadium back in 2007. The New York Post reports that Ms. Massey was watching the game with her nephews when Mr. Timothy Cassidy fell from a few rows above and literally crushed her.

Man Accused of Stealing $50 Uses Walmart Scooter as Escape Vehicle

A Pennsylvania man accused of stealing $50 tried to flee in an unusual fashion, wearing a hospital gown and driving a motorized shopping scooter for an escape vehicle.

According to the Associated Press, Craig David Jr. tried to steal $50 from his ex-girlfriend at Walmart after just being released from the hospital. He tried to flee using a Walmart scooter for an escape vehicle but was caught and charged with robbery and disorderly conduct.

Finger Lickin' Good? KFC Ad Lawsuit Over Anti-Crispy Ad Bias

Kentucky Fried Chicken (also known as KFC) is now part of a lawsuit that claims that recent KFC ad campaigns featuring grilled chicken are biased against the chain's extra crispy selection of chicken. BusinessWeek reports that the lawsuit centers around ad bias. The plaintiff, the KFC National Council and Advertising Cooperative, Inc. claims that the President of KFC (Mr. Roger Eaton) is favoring grilled chicken over its staple fried chicken. The lawsuit was filed in Delaware Chancery Court.

The KFC National Council and Advertising Cooperative, Inc. is a private advertising agency that crafts the fast food chain's marketing program. It is a separate entity from Yum! Brands Inc., of which Kentucky Fried Chicken is a unit. The advertising cooperative is made up of franchise and company members. The lawsuit centers around which entity gets to decide on the chain's advertising policy. The franchise members of the plaintiff entity claim that since the recession hit, sales are down and that the company should focus on ads that feature the original recipe fried chicken versus the newer grilled chicken.

If I Only Had a... Brain Found In Bag from Funeral Home in NM

If any story truly meets the definition of legally weird, this is it. After her funeral, the family of a recently deceased woman received a bag of what the DeVargas Funeral Home in New Mexico loosely termed "personal effects." Unconcerned, one family member reportedly left the bag in the back of his truck for a few days. That turned out to be mistake. An unpleasant smell finally attracted the notice of others in the family who, upon investigation found among the clothes, jewelry and wallet of the deceased, a clear plastic bag marked: "brain." "They knew what they had," clarified the family attorney, Richard Valle. The family is suing.

North Face vs. South Butt: Is this the Start of a TM War?

Perhaps you've heard that the big 'Face is trying to kick a little Butt? That is correct, outdoor apparel giant North Face company has filed suit against indoor apparel dwarf, South Butt, a small clothing company started as a joke by college freshman Jimmy Winkelmann. The North Face is suing for trademark infringement and related causes of action based, at bottom (pun intended), on the idea that the simple American consumer would not be able to tell the two brands apart, and that North Face's brand would be damaged by South Butt, much to the financial detriment of North Face.

Know When to Fold 'Em: Texas Hold 'Em Illegal in S.C.?

A Friday night. A game of poker with your pals. Maybe some sandwiches, drinks, smoke from a cigar or two curling over the table. Suddenly, the police burst in, bust up the game and arrest everyone in sight. No, this is not pulp fiction; this is life in the great state of South Carolina, c. 2006, wherein betting on "any game with cards or dice" is illegal. Moreover, this is exactly what happened to a group of card players in Mount Pleasant, S.C., in April of '06. 

Dahn Yoga in a Lawsuit Claiming It's A Cult

The popular yoga studio known as a Dahn Yoga is in the center of a lawsuit filed by former employees that claim that the yoga studio is a place of cult brainwashing. CNN reports that the lawsuit claims paints Dahn Yoga in a less than favorable light. The former employees claim that Dahn Yoga is "a totalistic, high-demand cult group" that required them to fork over massive amounts of money and places its founder Ilchi Lee as an "absolute spiritual and temporal leader".

The lawsuit which was filed in a federal court in Arizona by 27 plaintiffs, claim that they were subjected to cult brainwashing in order to convince them to serve Mr. Lee and his "vision." They also claim that they were convinced by Dahn Yoga to take out student loans in order to pay for fees and training courses.

Oregon Man Pleads Not Guilty to Bus Passenger Haircut

Getting over a bad haircut is never easy but it can be all the more difficult when it happens unknowingly.

Prosecutors accused Jared Weston Walter of giving bus passengers haircuts without their knowledge.

Walter is accused of sneakily cutting another bus passenger's hair with scissors.

Police Detectives Lure Suspected Pot Grower with Ransom Note

Steven Alan Locasio called a number left on a ransom note to negotiate a deal to get his marijuana back.

Little did he know, the suspicious ransom note was left by police detectives to lure the pot grower. "Thanks for the grow! You want them back? Call for the price...we'll talk" read the note left in place of Locasio's stash that was growing on a lot near his apartment.

According to the Associated Press, Locasio, 48, called the number 10 minutes later and offered $200 for the plants. Police detectives agreed to meet him for an exchange.

Sex Offender and YouTube Star Jailed for Parole Violation

His Internet popularity and following may not be as large as singing sensation Susan Boyle, but Edward Muscare is a YouTube star with lots of fans.

Muscare, 77, has been called the singing sex offender and his YouTube videos has attracted hundreds of thousands of views.

Currently, Muscare is in a Florida jail and awaits sentencing on parole violation charges.

His YouTube videos have logged more than a million "views."

Teen Robbery Suspect Shot Himself in the Foot

Michael Anthony Randall Jr. literally shot himself in the foot.

According to the Augusta Chronicle, Randall, a teen robbery suspect, shot himself in the foot while preparing to rob a convenience store on the west side of Athens, Georgia.