Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

May 2017 Archives

When it comes to hunting hogs and coyotes, lawmakers in Texas are trying to give hunters a new option. Wild hogs, and particularly feral hogs, are not only dangerous to other animals and people, the wild beasts also cause an estimated $80 to $90 million in property damages each year in Texas alone.

To combat the feral hog problem, Texas just passed a law to allow hog hunters to shoot feral hogs from a hot air balloon. Under this new law, coyotes may also be hunted by balloon as well. However, before the law can go into effect, it still must be approved by the state governor, though it is unlikely to be denied as there is a compelling need.

A recent lawsuit filed by PayPal against Pandora alleges that the music streaming company has infringed upon the payment processor's double 'P' logo. Although Pandora's P is only a single P and PayPal uses a double P, the trademark infringement lawsuit claims Pandora's logo confuses mobile app users.

PayPal's lawsuit seeks a court order forcing Pandora to stop using the infringing logo, as well as pay damages, and attorneys' fees, to PayPal. The lawsuit itself contains several pictorial depictions of the logos, as well as several examples of users claiming confusion on various social media platforms.

One woman is making headlines for her lawsuit against the now infamous maker of jelly beans, Jelly Belly. Though many might have a hard time believing that the makers of such a silly, sweet, and fun confection could commit fraud and intentionally deceive customers, the evidence for this lawsuit was printed on every single box of one of their novelty products: Jelly Belly Sport.

The confectioner, like so many other food product manufacturers, is alleged to have attempted to trick customers by leaving the word "sugar" off their list of ingredients. Rather than use the common name for the item that consumers vigilantly try to avoid (sugar), Jelly Belly used the misleading phrase "evaporated cane juice" in their list of ingredients.

This week, 61-year-old Ana Rockman of Long Island, New York turned herself in to police for a crime that occurred in 2015. Rockman has been charged with breaking into her ex-husband's home and destroying antiques, appliances, artwork, electronics, instruments, and more.

The total value of the damaged property is estimated at $350,000, as several of the items were highly valued. She was released from custody on $5,000 bail, but is facing felony burglary and criminal mischief charges. However, Rockman turning herself in was not an act of altruism: it was in response to a warrant for her arrest.

Darren Byler, of Kodiak, Alaska, is the owner of a retired crabbing boat, named Wild Alaska, which he uses to run a strip club. He recently found himself facing some serious criminal charges related to his establishment's facilities for employee and customer bathroom waste.

However, it seems that much of the drama has subsided for Byler. As such, this past week, he finally reopened to customers. There is no word as to whether his waste facilities have been updated. And his exotic dancer business survives. According Byler, this operation was not charging admission, nor serving alcohol.

A Kentucky Girl Scouts troop leader, Leah Anne Vick, was arrested this week for allegedly stealing over 6,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. With the average box of Girl Scout cookies containing 20 cookies, that's over 120,000 delicious, purloined treats. The street value of all those cookies is estimated at $26,000.

Vick, 26, signed for and picked up the 6,000+ boxes of cookies to distribute to her troop as part of her role as troop leader, but none of her girls ever reported receiving their inventories. It has also been reported that the Girl Scout's organization believes that Vick may have even stolen additional boxes that were destined for other troops, but were unsure because those boxes were not signed for.

Dan Heyman, a local West Virginia writer and news reporter, was arrested last week inside the halls of the state's capitol building for trying to ask a politician a question. The arresting officers claimed that Mr. Heyman was creating a disturbance, and, officially, that he was arrested for "willful disruption of a governmental process."

Tom Price, the country's Health and Human Services secretary, was walking in the state capitol with Kellyanne Conway, when Heyman, with valid press credentials on display, approached to ask a question about whether victims of domestic violence and rape risk losing coverage under the AHCA. But, rather than getting a response to the question, Heyman got arrested. Price refused to answer the question or condemn the arrest.

With Mother's Day right around the corner, one Athens, Georgia, man provides insight in what not to do in the days leading up to Mother's Day. For the second time in just three months, and on the Wednesday before Mother's Day, Terry Bernard Ball Jr., was arrested in incidents at his mother's house.

What's more is that each incident that happened involved a pork chop and some rather unbecoming conduct, allegedly.

A police officer in Michigan has filed a discrimination lawsuit against his department, the chief of police, and a few other officers. While officers filing discrimination lawsuits against their department is nothing new, this case is a little bit different.

The plaintiff, Cleon Brown, appears to be Caucasian, however, a recent Ancestry.com genetic test revealed that he was in fact 18% African. When Brown revealed this information to his colleagues within department, he alleges that he became the subject of ridicule and harassment. After he submitted a complaint to the EEOC, he started facing retaliation in the form of denied career advancement opportunities.

Sunday night, a brawl erupted at Florida's Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport at the Spirit Airlines ticket counter. Three passengers, all from New York, whose flights were cancelled, were arrested during the incident.

While Spirit has issued an official apology, the brawl has brought the airline's situation under much more public scrutiny due to the rash of recent airline public relations disasters. Videos posted to social media sites have gained viral status.

'The particular intersection had not had a stop sign at it for 18 years of my life,' explained Charles Ross in a recent YouTube video. This was months after Ross, AKA Rosscreations, told his 500,000 followers that 'as a self-appointed city traffic flow coordinator, I think it's time now to remove some of these unnecessary stop signs.'

That first explanation was part of a plea for donations to fund his criminal defense -- Ross was arrested on felony grand theft charges, which could land him in prison for five years. Apparently crime and YouTube pranks don't pay. Ross claims he doesn't "have much money for legal fees or a lawyer."

While online dating as we know it has been around for nearly 15 years now, the concern of being robbed of your money, or kidneys, or just getting murdered on a first date with an internet stranger still has not faded.

On the assumption that individuals with a criminal record are more likely to be dangerous dates, a new app is promising to help online daters stay safe by weeding out members with a criminal record, or those on a sex offender registry. The app, named Gatsby as a nod to F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, requires members to pass a criminal background check before being allowed to use the app to find a date. Furthermore, the app rescreens monthly, and will issue lifetime bans to members convicted of a crime.

Coleman Martin, a 29-year-old Texas cop, was recently arrested after his fake suicide plot was discovered. Coincidentally, a few weeks after fleeing the country, he was flying through Texas from Colombia, and he was detained and arrested at the airport on misdemeanor false alarm charges (similar to yelling fire in a crowded theater).

Martin had led his wife to believe that he planned to drown himself. His wife, on April 25, called police, which found a suicide note in his car, next to a lake. Countless hours, and massive amounts of resources, were wasted by authorities searching for Martin, who had fled the country via a taxi ride to the Mexico border. After the massive manhunt ended, authorities discovered that someone with an IP address in Mexico had logged in to Martin's email account. Additionally, it was discovered that Martin had a "close relationship" with another woman, and that this woman had received an email explaining how he faked his suicide.

I don't know about you, but if I had just led police on a multistate chase, only stopped after spike strips were deployed, and was facing drunk driving charges, I might be tempted to use an alias. Maybe I might even use a famous person's name. Mind you, I'd probably go for a less recognizable famous person, like Brian Wilson, or, say, John Krasinski.

I don't think I'd be inclined to use the name of the former First Lady, senator from New York, Secretary of State, and, most recently, presidential candidate. Then again, I'm not Holly Lynn Donahoo, of Louisville, Kentucky.

A recent wrongful termination lawsuit filed in San Diego, California alleges that a safety manager was fired for not responding to text messages while driving for work. You read that right, fired for not texting and driving. While the company denies the allegations and states there is a firm anti-texting policy at the company, the lawsuit alleges the plaintiff was terminated for refusing to "get with the program" and text and drive like the other truck drivers.

What's more surprising is that the plaintiff, Thomas Aylott, wasn't a truck driver, but worked for the trucking company as a safety manager. The plaintiff alleges he was terminated soon after complaining about the safety concerns of texting while driving. Specifically, he alleges that his termination was retaliatory for opposing unlawful conduct, and an act of age discrimination.

Cryogenics, or the practice of freezing dead bodies so that they can be revived in the future, currently occupies a special place between junk science and fraudulent fantasy land. There are a handful of places across the world that will take your money and put your dead body in a frozen tube, until the power fails or gets shut off. While the hope is that your dead body will be revivable in a few hundred, or thousand, years, there's quite a bit to be skeptical about.

Fortunately, unless you fork over a small boatload of cash and sign some pretty specific and legally binding paperwork, your dead body won't get made into an icicle. There was an exception for the baseball player Ted Williams, however. Williams' remains were cryogenically frozen by his two children, prompting an unusual legal battle with their half-sister. Given the case of Ted Williams, there definitely remain quite a few legal questions surrounding this issue.