Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

March 2017 Archives

In the state of Oklahoma, the legislature is considering a bill that is affectionately being called the 'Flying Pig Bill.' And while some might think based on the name that the bill has as much chance at passing as a pig has at flying, that's where they'd be wrong.

Unfortunately, no pigs will be flying or taking off if this bill passes. The name is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the bill is actually proposing to allow hunters who go after feral hogs to hire helicopters and other aircrafts to use for aerial hunting. While it's not an activity the typical person is willing to spend one or a few thousand dollars on, for some, shooting feral hogs out of a plane, helicopter, or even a hot air balloon, is rare pleasure worth the high cost.

One would never guess that the self-proclaimed inventor of e-mail would be so litigious. However, the now middle aged man wants his credit, and although TechDirt has provided critical coverage over his saga and claims, the website is now the focus of his litigious ire.

While this story has all the usual signs of silly, non-sense lawsuits, this is one book that shouldn't be judged based upon the cover. The lawyer representing the claimed inventor of email also represented Hulk Hogan against Gawker, and like Gawker, TechDirt is worried that the litigation will result in the news organization's demise. And while we're on the subject of Gawker, the email inventor sued them too. Gawker settled out for $750,000 in addition to removing all articles on the subject.

For a few years now, phone scammers have been conning people out of their money by claiming to be the IRS. While there are numerous variations on how the scam works, most recently the scammers have been threatening to have their victims arrested if they do not pay-up within a certain period of time. Frequently they ask for payment to be made via the hottest untraceable currency: gift cards.

While various criminal enterprises perpetrating these phone scams have been busted, scammers nevertheless persist. If you've never received a call from one of these scammers, don't think for a second that you are immune. Proof of the fact that scammers are really just dialing blindly surfaced this week when a Wisconsin police officer who educates seniors about phone scams was targeted, with comical results.

Eating competitions or challenges are not always about quantity, like the famous Ol' 96er from the Great Outdoors. A relatively recent trend involves spicy food -- specifically the heat of the ghost pepper. A quick Youtube search for "Ghost Pepper Challenge" will bring up countless videos of individuals attempting to eat the incredibly hot fruit, and generally failing to not remark on the pain.

However, ghost peppers can be downright dangerous. In San Mateo, California, a restaurant was recently sued after a patron slipped into a two week coma and suffered a severe tear in his esophagus after eating their special ghost pepper burger. The lawsuit alleges that the patron was not warned about the extreme spiciness of the ghost pepper burger, although he was told that there would be a reward for finishing it, and that he would have his photo taken and posted on the "Wall of Fame."

Strange lawsuits get filed all the time, particularly against law enforcement officers and prison guards. But a lawsuit against two cops for forcing a person to take a field sobriety test on the side of a pubic roadway without pants is not only strange, it's justified.

The lawsuit brought by the pant-less, but sober, driver, is seeking monetary damages as a result of the public humiliation, and violation of her civil rights.

When a person suffers from a condition that has an effect on their digestion, it can lead to embarrassment at work as a result of frequent, prolonged, or particularly odorous, trips to the bathroom. Unfortunately, courts are not very forgiving when it comes to employment discrimination claims that involve flatulence. Even when those claims are based on disabilities causing the gas, or preventing an employee from being able to hold the gas until an appropriate time or place, courts routinely dismissed these claims.

Recently, a hostile work environment lawsuit related to excessive flatulence, that was initially filed in a New Jersey federal court in 2015, was dismissed again this past January. The re-filed claim was brought by the wife and co-worker of a man who was terminated because his uncontrollable flatulence was a problem for customers and management, at the Case Pork Roll Co. in New Jersey.

A recent court decision out of Maine will likely be used in classrooms for generations to come. That's not because it tells a worthwhile story of American history, nor does it involve famous personalities, nor because it's so well written it merits inclusion in America's literary canon. Rather, it simply shows how significant an Oxford comma can be when determining the meaning of a sentence. And if you don't know what an Oxford comma is, read on, because, clearly, it's pretty important to writing clearly and effectively.

This case boiled down to one statute with a list of exemptions, separated by commas, except for the last exclusion. Essentially, dairy delivery drivers were claiming that under Maine law, they were entitled to overtime wages, despite their employer claiming they were excluded by the very same Maine law. However, that law is not so clear on whether delivery drivers would be exempt or not. And you guessed it, that ambiguity is the result of a missing Oxford comma.

A married couple in Ohio got their own surprise when both the husband and wife were cited for misdemeanors by police after their gruesome, bad joke was taken too seriously by their Facebook friends. The pair thought it would be funny to stage a murder scene in their bathtub using ketchup, then post pictures of it online. The police were able to quickly catch up to them, and failed to see the humor.

What's worse is that rather than putting a disclaimer, or note, indicating that it was a garden variety joke, the husband was assuming responsibility, proudly. When law enforcement started receiving hysterical calls about the incident, officers arrived at the couple's home, discovering the not-so-clever ruse.

Maybe these thieves were born knowing exactly what they were going to steal, or maybe it was an accident. Regardless, the LAPD have been investigating the theft of 100,000 packages of Anastasia Beverly Hills brand "Modern Resistance" eye-shadow from a warehouse. The value of each package is approximately $42, which makes the total heist worth approximately $4.2 million.

Despite reports only reaching the media this week, the unbelievably large and shockingly valuable heist happened at the end of January. Reports lack many details, however, police believe that the thieves entered the warehouse through a hole cut into the ceiling.

If you haven't been following the saga of the Prenda Law porn copyright trolling extortion scheme, the following might be a bit a shocking. For those of you that have been following the utterly unbelievable story, it just got better. This week, one of the principals in the scheme just plead guilty.

For those who don't know: Lawyers at the law firm Prenda Law were accused of making pornography in order to have that pornography "illegally" distributed online so that they (the lawyers) could sue (or shakedown, or extort, or blackmail, settlements from) the pornography downloaders. The sheer outlandishness, and brazen flaunting of the law, makes it even that much more shocking that the allegations have been substantiated by the guilty plea.

In a tale that quickly goes from weird to sad, a Las Vegas man was arrested after allegedly attempting to murder a sleeping homeless mannequin with a ball-peen hammer. He is currently only charged with carrying a concealed weapon, but his bail of $50,000 (ten times the normal bail for this charge) is telling.

After two homeless men were murdered while sleeping on the sidewalks under similar circumstances within the last month near the same area, Las Vegas police decided to attempt a mannequin challenge with a different focus: catching a murderer.

Waffle House restaurants are no strangers to wacky customers, but there's likely going to be no waffling as a result of a recent customer lawsuit. The Waffle House patron alleged that he suffered damage to his hearing as well as an injury to his ear as a result of exploding plates. However, the Waffle House is saying that there was no explosion at all, and they're not about to leggo of that position. 

No, the man was not served waffles stuffed with explosives, nor was the explosion alleged to have even happened in the dining room where the man was seated. The litigious waffle lover claims that water sprayed onto dishes that were still very hot and fresh out of the sanitizing dishwasher in the backroom caused the plates to shatter, causing a loud explosion, and plate pieces to go flying.

Conducting science experiments at home is a dying practice among Americans young and old. Over the past few decades, at-home science kits have faced increasing scrutiny and regulation as a result of incidents involving homemade drugs and explosives.

While at-home science kits still exist, they frequently lack many of the most basic chemicals that interested individuals actually need to conduct experiments. This is due not only to the manufacturer's fear of legal liability over individuals using the chemicals to make explosives or cause others harm, but also as a result of laws prohibiting the distribution of certain chemicals and lab equipment.

If you are considering doing some science at home, then you may want to think twice and check your state's laws before getting started. Law enforcement is not kidding around when it comes to this stuff, and have even arrested children for doing science.

Girl Scout Cookies -- they make buyers bounce checks to afford them, grown men steal cash boxes from cookie stands (more than once!), troop leaders embezzle over $10,000 in cookie profits, and women attack roommates over a box of Thin Mints.

Walmart parking lots -- where apparently every crime in America is happening.

So what happens when you combine the most crime-inducing sweet treat of all time and the physical nexus of hundreds of violent crimes a year? A "bar room brawl" level melee that left tables overturned, boxes strewn on the sidewalk, and three cases of cookies destroyed. Oh and a dad went to the hospital, too.