Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

October 2013 Archives

Google Glass Wearer Ticketed for Distracted Driving

In a techie crime first, a California woman was ticketed for wearing Google Glass while driving.

Cecilia Abadie was pulled over by San Diego Police and slapped with a traffic ticket for speeding and "driving with monitor visible to driver (Google Glass)," reports Ars Technica.

The traffic ticket heard 'round the world, Abadie's Google Glass offense has sparked media frenzy and raises new legal questions about how the high-tech specs comports with distracted driving laws.

Sriracha Factory's Fumes Too Spicy, Lawsuit Claims

A Sriracha factory is being sued by a California city where some residents say the fumes and odors from the plant are a nuisance.

Sriracha, also known and loved as "rooster sauce," is produced at the Huy Fong Foods plant in Irwindale, California, but the city's inhabitants apparently can't stand the heat of the plant's fumes. According to the Los Angeles Times, the smell emitted from the Sriracha plant has allegedly caused Irwindale residents to experience "burning eyes, irritated throats, and headaches caused by a powerful, painful odor."

So while Sriracha may be great on BBQ pork vermicelli, is it a nuisance to the city of Irwindale?

Judge in 'Baby Messiah' Case Faces Disciplinary Charges

As we predicted would happen, baby "Messiah" got to keep his birth-given name after all. What we didn't predict are the disciplinary charges the judge is now facing.

In August, Tennessee Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered a baby's name changed from "Messiah" to "Martin," saying the former was reserved for the original JC (as in Jesus Christ). Ultimately, another judge deemed Ballew's ruling unconstitutional and restored the child's name to Messiah. (Hallelujah!)

Now Ballew is facing formal disciplinary charges for expressing an inappropriate religious bias.

Dog Reaching for Food Blamed for Apartment Fire

A dog is being blamed for setting its owner's apartment on fire Friday, when rescue crews arrived just in time to save the dog's life.

According to Wenatchee, Washington's KPQ-AM radio, the canine culprit was a black Labrador that was attempting to retrieve a bag of dog food from the stove top. Instead, the dog accidentally "turned the stove on with its paw."

Although the pyro pooch survived the blaze, what liability could its owner potentially face?

Fla. Woman Stabs Boyfriend After Dog Eats Her Marijuana

A dog eats marijuana; a woman allegedly stabs her boyfriend. Ah, just another day in our favorite Sunshine State.

A Florida woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend told authorities that the injuries occurred only after his dog swallowed her stash of pot. To bolster her defense, Shadae Scott, 26, of Dania Beach, also claimed her beau repeatedly walked into her knife, United Press International reports.

What was she smoking? Oh wait, that's right.

Man Arrested for Selling Someone Else's Home on Craigslist

An Arizona tenant has been arrested for allegedly selling someone else's home on Craigslist.

We all know about sketchy real estate moves -- like using a fish-eye lens in photos to make rooms look more, shall we say, luxuriant. But "selling" the house you're actually only renting? That takes housing scams to a whole new level.

John David Seiberling, the audacious alleged scammer, is being held on suspicion of fraudulent schemes and theft. But did the couple who bought into the alleged scam miss any common-sense warning signs?

Iraq War Vet's 'SpongeBob' Headstone Removed From Cemetery

A slain Iraq war veteran's "SpongeBob SquarePants" headstone has been removed from an Ohio cemetery, which called the monument's installation an "error in judgment."

The late Army Sgt. Kimberly Walker's tombstone, which stood 7 feet tall and resembled the cartoon character SpongeBob in Walker's Army uniform, was deemed by Spring Grove Cemetery to be out of place and "inappropriate" for the "historic" cemetery, Cincinnati's WLWT-TV reports. The cemetery also removed a second SpongeBob headstone, which was meant for Walker's twin sister.

What rights do Walker's family have to remember her, a veteran and true "SpongeBob" fan, as she lived?

Breastfeeding Mom Charged With Contempt Over Jury Duty

A breastfeeding mom in Missouri is being held in contempt of court for showing up to jury duty with her child.

But was the breastfeeding mother actually entitled to a jury duty exemption?

Drone Crashes in Manhattan; Brooklyn Musician Arrested

A New York man was arrested for flying a remote control helicopter -- in fancy terms, a drone -- that almost crashed into someone near Grand Central Terminal.

Though the drone was equipped with a camera, the incident actually wasn't cause for creepy aerial surveillance concern. The NYPD arrested David Zablidowsky, a Brooklyn musician who really needs to rethink his hobbies, for good ol' reckless endangerment.

Woman Charged With Stealing $2.87 in Change From Fountain

An Ohio woman who allegedly stole $2.87 in change from a courthouse fountain pleaded not guilty to petty theft charges Wednesday.

Deidre Romine is accused of stealing the coins from a fountain outside of the Logan County Courthouse, Columbus' WBNS-TV reports. She says she intended to buy food with the change she'd scraped up.

Is this sort of thing even a crime?

Google-Savvy Bank Robbers Learn 'What Happens If You Rob a Bank'

Weymouth police in the Boston area are probably counting their lucky evidentiary stars after a bank robber hatched a brilliant plan to Google various robbery-related questions before pulling a bank heist with two others.

The robber apparently didn't think to clear her search history. (Doh!)

Alas, sometimes it's the planning and not the cover-up that's worse than the crime.

Psychologist Loses Laptop to Prostitute, Gets Suspended

A psychologist's license has been suspended after he left his laptop with a prostitute. The device contained the personal information of hundreds of his patients, investigators say.

Sunil Kakar, 46, of Gig Harbor, Washington, handed his laptop to a prostitute as a form of collateral in February, hoping that she would wait for him to retrieve money from an ATM, according to The Seattle Times. Instead, the prostitute took the laptop and pawned it. Police eventually recovered the device.

Kakar originally told police that the prostitute had stolen the laptop, which was filled with patient information, from his unlocked car. While Kakar is no longer practicing as a psychologist, could he potentially face civil suits from patients for losing their data?

Wheelchair-Bound Cat Violated Leash Law: Fla. Authorities

In heartless Melbourne, Florida, wheelchair-bound cats must wear a leash -- no exceptions.

Cat owner Yvonne Steel learned that the hard way when she got ticketed for failing to put her disabled cat, Pooh Bear, out on a leash. To be fair, Steel reportedly failed to heed plenty of warnings. But c'mon, the cat's name is Pooh Bear, for goodness sake!

Anyway, Steel and Pooh Bear fought the law and the law won.

Too Late for Ohio Man to Prove He's Not Dead: Judge

An Ohio man who is very much alive is stuck being dead in the eyes of the law. Donald Eugene Miller Jr., 61, is literally a dead man walking as far as an Ohio judge is concerned.

In 1994, Judge Allan Davis of the Hancock County Probate Court ruled that Miller was legally dead. Now, nearly 20 years later, the very same judge has denied Miller's request to overturn the ruling.

A double-entendre perfectly sums up the whole situation: Time's up!

Naked Haunted House Is No More; Underwear Now Required

Thrill-seekers looking for a naked haunted house will have to keep on dreaming, because Pennsylvania's "Shocktoberfest" has decided to require underwear for its somewhat controversial "Naked and Scared Challenge."

According to NBC's "Today," attendees of the haunted house in the borough of Sinking Spring will no longer be plunging into a ghastly hellscape bearing their naked nethers. The haunted house's president says he wants the business to be a "good neighbor" to affected municipalities.

So why do "Shocktoberfest" participants need undies in a frightful underworld?

Topless Woman Sues NYPD Over Arrest in City Park

A topless woman's lawsuit against the NYPD is making the Big Apple's po-pos look like a bunch of boobs when it comes to melons.

Jessica Krigsman, a 24-year-old burlesque dancer, was sunbathing topless in a park when two officers ordered her to put her shirt back on.

Krigsman refused, asserted her legal rights, and was arrested -- but the police got the law wrong in a big, busty way.

'Abandoned' Barbie Jeep Gets Ticketed by Cop

A hot-pink toy Barbie Jeep got a bright orange reminder from police to stop leaving the molded plastic vehicle in the street.

According to Salt Lake City's KUTV, an officer spotted the iconic Mattel mini jeep blocking a driveway in Cedar Hills, Utah, last week. The officer decided to leave an "abandoned vehicle" ticket as a lesson about proper parking -- or about how little crime there is in the sleepy neighborhood.

Good thing Barbie didn't have to retrieve her ride from the impound.

Bounce House Businessman Embezzles While Friend Is in Rehab

The owner of a bounce house business in California has been convicted of embezzling more than half a million dollars from a friend while she was in rehab for a meth addiction.

While his friend sought treatment, Vincent Robert Eppstein, 49, of San Jose, managed to embezzle and squander more than $600,000 designated for the care of his friend's ailing mother.

Eppstein spent literally all of his friend's savings -- down to her last 60 cents, for which he wrote a check to himself and filled out the memo line with: "Have a nice life."

But those four little words cost him, big time.

Doo-Doo DNA Testing Flushes Out Alleged Burglar

An Oklahoma burglary suspect was charged based on some evidence that he allegedly left behind after neglecting to flush his victim's toilet.

Charles Marqull Williams, 20, was charged with first-degree burglary in Oklahoma County District Court on Wednesday, on the strength of DNA that he left on a piece of used toilet paper, The Oklahoman reports.

Didn't know there was DNA in doo-doo? Probably neither did Williams.

After Dog Ate Their Money, Treasury Dept. Reimburses Couple

Dogs have moved on from eating homework and on to dining on Benjamins. One Montana couple's dog ate money valued at $500 -- how's that for expensive taste?

But as the owner said, "It all comes out in the end" -- literally and figuratively.

Thankfully, the U.S. Treasury can save the day when your dog eats your homework cash.

Father Sues Sprint Over 'New' Phone Filled With Nude Selfies

An angry father is suing Sprint, alleging that the "new" phone he purchased for his son at a Sprint store came pre-loaded with nude photos of the store's employees.

Arsen Garibyan purchased the phone in 2011 from a Sprint store in Pasadena, and did not discover the pornographic photos until his underage son had unpackaged the phone and asked "Daddy, what is this?," Los Angeles' KNX Radio reports.

Garibyan did not consider this clothesless content amusing, and he sued both Sprint and Nextel of California on his son's behalf.

Man's Money Smells Like Pot, Leads to His Conviction

Fact: If your money smells like pot, you could get busted -- even if there's no pot to be found.

William David Bush of Sebastopol, California, learned that the hard way when he was convicted of possessing proceeds from the sale of marijuana.

Cops pulled over his Benz and discovered $47,000 in his trunk which wafted a certain, shall we say, "skunk-like" aroma.