Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog


Can I Yell at Other Drivers With My Own PA System?

Who hasn't dreamt about using a public address system in their car? Whether it's to politely chastise the guy who cut you off, kindly inform that little old lady that you'll wait while she crosses the street, or dutifully remind another driver that it's incredibly moronic to text or watch videos while driving, a car-based PA system sounds really handy. Sure, sure, it could also be really annoying, depending on who's controlling it. But most of us would use it judiciously, right? 

But before you strap one on your car and begin educating your fellow travelers at will, check your local traffic laws. Yelling at other drivers with your own PA system might not be legal. 

Imagine you payed thousands of dollars for a heart monitor that could detect when you were about to have a heart attack. Except, instead of doing that, it peed on your expensive sofa and chewed through your new shoes. That's similar to what a lawsuit claims some consumers experienced when they purchased what they thought were "diabetic alert dogs." Now, the company that sold those dogs is being sued by the state's attorney general.

Looking for a great deal on a pre-owned vehicle? Tired of negotiating with those uppity, big-time salespeople? Having trouble getting approved for a car loan and want to pay cash instead?

Well come on down to Kansas City's impounded car auction! Where you'll find great deals on wrecked and abandoned cars, illegally parked vehicles, or newer models seized by police in criminal investigations! We've even got Chrysler sedans, Ford trucks, and a Lexus ES 300, straight off the lot. (Disclaimer: Don't pay attention to that federal lawsuit involving the sale of these vehicles.)

As the Advocate in Baton Rouge put it in January, when a local police chief's wife was spotted behind the wheel of his patrol car in the annual Christmas parade, it led to a few raised eyebrows. When she pulled up to the French Settlement Police Station in February, turned her headlights out, and allegedly attempted to run into an investigating officer before fleeing the scene, it led to DUI, speeding, and driving with a suspended license charges.

As the Advocate was careful to point out when reporting the latter incident, however: "She was not driving a patrol car at the time of her arrest."

As a school administrator, a good rule of thumb is to avoid so-called "scared straight" programs intended to intimidate students. Also, you don't want to invite police impersonators onto campus to carry out said intimidation. And, most importantly, you don't want to allow ersatz law enforcement to assault your students.

This may seem like common sense to you and I, but it was apparently news to the Leggett Community Learning Center, which is now being sued after a fake cop packing a real gun handcuffed and threatened to tase a child suffering from attention deficit disorder.

There's no doubt the children are our future. But with the drastic effects of climate change looming, their future is looking bleak, environmentally speaking. So what can be done? Sue the adults!

At least, those adults in charge of the government. Back in 2015, 21 children sued the U.S. government (from then-President Barack Obama to 11 federal agencies and their secretaries), claiming federal fossil fuel policy violates the Ninth Amendment rights of future generations. And despite repeated attempts to dodge the case, a federal judge set a trial date in October of this year when the adults in charge of the government will have to answer to the kids on climate change.

Alex Malarkey was just five years old when he was paralyzed in a car accident with his father, Kevin. Alex spent two months in a coma in 2004, and after waking up, allegedly recounted a tale of being taken through the gates of Heaven, meeting angels, and talking to Jesus and the devil before returning to life.

Kevin apparently sold the story to Tyndale House Publishers, which published "The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven," which, to date, has sold over one million copies. Alex, however, has recanted that version of events, and has never seen a dime from the book sales. Now 19 years old and living solely off Social Security, he is suing Tyndale House, claiming appropriation of likeness, invasion of privacy, exploitation of a person with a disability, and defamation.

Woman Wins $560M Powerball, Sues for Anonymity

You wish you had problems like this. The New Hampshire woman who hit the $560 million Powerball jackpot last month has sued the state's lottery commission -- asking to remain anonymous. Her lawsuit claims disclosure would "constitute a significant invasion of privacy."

German Shepherd Receives Unemployment Benefits

A Michigan German Shepherd is in the news after being approved for $360 a week in unemployment benefits. It's a story that inserts a cute, cuddly pet into the real-world problem of an apparent state benefits fraud scheme.

2017: The Year in Strange Law

In 2017, things got a little weird. Criminal and civil law has always attracted some odd characters and some odd scenarios, but this year seemed to take the cake.

Here are some of the oddest legal stories from 2017: