Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

November 2013 Archives

Sriracha Factory Shuttered Over Fiery Fumes

Sriracha hot sauce -- the chosen condiment of hipsters and foodies across the nation -- is landing in some legal hot water. A judge recently ruled a part of the Sriracha factory in Southern California must shut down because of the pungent spicy odor it produces in the neighborhood.

The sauce was literally too hot to handle for neighbors. Sriracha's possible new slogan: "so hot, it hurts to breathe."

Ghost Hunters Get High, Burn Down Historic Plantation Home

A group of seven ghost hunters are in custody for committing arson on the historic LeBeau Plantation in Louisiana.

The local sheriff says the five Texans and two Louisiana natives had been smoking marijuana and drinking immediately before the incident. (Shocking.)

In case you're wondering, setting a house on fire to attract ghosts is still arson. (Double shocker.)

Undercover Animal Rights Activist Arrested for Animal Cruelty

A Colorado animal rights activist faces an animal cruelty charge after she filmed undercover footage of alleged cattle abuse -- but apparently waited too long to report it.

Taylor Radig, who's associated with the Compassion Over Killing animal rights group, was ironically arrested and charged with animal cruelty after her undercover video was received by sheriff's deputies, Denver's KMGH-TV reports.

How did the animal abuse hunter become the hunted?

Man Who Cooked, Ate His Own Dog Convicted of Animal Cruelty

A Florida man who killed, cooked, and ate his dog -- yes, cooked and ate -- was convicted of felony animal cruelty.

But here's the kicker: the jury didn't even get to hear about the latter experimental culinary part, only about the killing.

Man With 5 Kids Leaves House, $250K Estate to His 2 Cats

A Tennessee man left a large chunk of his estate to his two cats, and not to his five human children.

Leon Sheppard, 79, of Memphis, passed away in December 2012, but in his will left $250,000 and his 4,200-square-foot home to his two cats Frisco and Jake, Memphis' WMC-TV reports. (When reached by phone, one of Sheppard's children told WMC the family didn't want to talk about it.)

Can you really leave that much money to cats in your will?

'NOT SEE' License Plate Revoked; Bus Driver Suspended

A vanity "NOT SEE" license plate -- with the separate image of a swastika above it -- caused a San Diego Unified School District bus driver to be suspended and the license plates to be yanked by the DMV.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles canceled the "NOT SEE" license plates -- which, when pronounced, sounds like the word "Nazi" -- and asked the owner, Shawn Calpito, to return them.

But who gets to decide when vanity plates are too offensive?

Ala. Man Can't Bury Wife in Front Yard, Courts Rule

An Alabama man's embittered fight to bury his deceased wife in his front yard finally ended Friday, as her body was exhumed and set for cremation.

According to The Associated Press, James Davis, 74, had buried his wife of 48 years in 2009, as her dying wish was to "remain at their house" in Stevenson, Alabama. What followed was a series of court cases with Davis fighting the city and eventually losing.

Why couldn't Davis keep his wife buried in front of their home?

Fla. Man's Indecent Exposure Defense: Genitals Too Small to See

When it comes to indecent exposure, does size matter? According to one Florida man, it does. Stephen Van Alphen's (pretty sad) defense: his p-stick is "too small" to be seen by anyone.

I think we all know who his BFF probably is. Poor guy.

Alleged Shoplifter, Stripped on Video, Sues for Emotional Distress

A New York shoplifting suspect who was confronted and stripped on camera is now suing 7-Eleven for emotional distress.

David Golson, 30, allegedly tried to swipe a Snickers bar from a 7-Eleven in Brooklyn in October 2012, prompting clerks to violently strip him down, Courthouse News Service reports. The incident was recorded on surveillance and cell-phone camera video, which went viral after being publicized in news reports.

Does the stripped accused shoplifter have a case?

Fake Cop Arrested After Demanding Dunkin' Donut Discounts

A Florida man posed as a cop to get a Dunkin' Donuts discount. It's proof that: (1) hunger does strange things to people and (2) even fake cops love donuts.

Unfortunately for 48-year-old Charles "Chuck" Barry, real cops showed up (maybe with a discounted ├ęclair in hand?) and arrested him. Barry is now facing charges for impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Who knew that cops get donut discounts?

2 Felons, Including a Murderer, Elected to Flint City Council

The citizens of Flint, Michigan, have elected two convicted felons to their City Council, one of whom served 19 years in prison for second-degree murder.

Councilman Wantwaz Davis, a convicted murderer, beat the incumbent by just 71 votes, surprising reporters who'd only learned of his conviction after Election Day last week. Another newly elected councilman, Eric Mays, has a 1987 conviction for felonious assault, MLive.com reports.

Do these convictions affect either Mays or Davis' political ambitions?

'N. Colo.' Secession? What a Split Vote Means for '51st State'

Ever heard of North Colorado? Well, someday you just might. A recent secession vote thwarted a group's efforts to secede from Colorado and form "North Colorado," the country's would-be 51st state.

Sure, we love to threaten secession when politics (or elections) don't go our way. But is it actually possible to secede?

'Human' Sues Over 'COPSLIE' License Plate Denial

A legal spat over a "COPSLIE" license plate may end in victory for one car owner who's legally changed his name to "human."

Human, of New Hampshire, is an unemployed accountant formerly known as David Montenegro, Boston's WBZ-TV reports. He argued before New Hampshire's highest court against a DMV regulation which prohibits vanity license plates that "a reasonable person would find offensive to good taste."

What are the legal arguments for and against "COPSLIE"?

Nudist Claims Alleged Child Porn Pics Are Just Family Photos

A nudist dad is facing child porn allegations based on naked pictures of underage girls that he claims are family photos of his daughters.

Brian Martens, 53, of Palm Beach County, Florida, was arrested on charges that he allegedly had naked photos taken of his three young daughters "and shared them with other men," the Sun Sentinel reports. Martens claims that since he and his family were living at a nudist colony, these are just family photos.

Is Martens' defense plausible, or is he mistaking a family slideshow for a porn reel?

For Spiders in Bananas, Supermarket to Pay Family's Expenses

With the makings of a perfect post-Halloween story, a family in the UK was temporarily driven out of their home by deadly spiders that were living on their store-bought bananas.

British supermarket chain Sainsbury's says it will pay the expenses the family incurred as a result of being forced out by newly hatched Brazilian wandering spiders -- one of the world's deadliest spiders with venom that may treat erectile dysfunction...

How's that for organic?

Cops Forced Man to Rap for His Freedom, Lawsuit Claims

A Brooklyn man claims he was forced to rap to avoid arrest, and he's suing in federal court to recover from the NYPD.

Quinshon Shingles' lawsuit claims the aspiring hip-hop artist was at a friend's home in 2011 when the "a crew of cops" coerced him into doing a freestyle rap for his freedom, the New York Post reports.

Thankfully for Shingles, his rap was apparently freedom-worthy and the cops let him go. But what does Shingles hope to get in his suit against the New York Police Department (NYPD)?

'Bigfoot Hunt' Goes Bad: 1 Man Shot, 3 Arrested

A Bigfoot hunting expedition went terribly awry when one Oklahoma man -- a human, not a Sasquatch -- got spooked by a "barking noise" and accidentally shot his friend in the back. Better than getting stabbed in the back by a friend, right? (Har har.)

Omar Pineda -- the 21-year-old gun wieldin', Sasquatch huntin', back shooter -- was arrested for reckless conduct with a firearm and obstruction. Pineda's father-in-law and wife were cuffed for interfering with the investigation.

Bigfoot: 1; Humans: 0.

Yelp Reviewers Sue, Claiming They're 'Unpaid Writers'

In the latest Yelp lawsuit to make headlines, reviewers are claiming that they've been wronged as "unpaid writers," even comparing Yelp to a "slave ship." Let's give them five stars for effort. But are their legal arguments valid?

The class action lawsuit launched by a group of disgruntled Yelp reviewers claims that, as reviewers, they should be considered unpaid employees and deserve compensation, TechDirt reports.

While prior Yelp lawsuits have centered on fake and even vindictive reviews, this likely is the first Yelp lawsuit to claim improper classification of (allegedly) unpaid "employees."