Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog


There's a fine line between utilitarianism and theft. On the one side, you have some unused resources going to waste when they could be used to help others. On the other, you have a guy breaking into his dead neighbor's apartment, making off with some cash, batteries, a coffee mug, and a debit card.

A utilitarian might say that it's a good thing that the deceased's financial assets are used to feed and support the living. Then again, law enforcement might charge you with breaking and entering and theft after buying over $7,000 worth of bad pizza and not reporting your neighbor's death.

We hear all the time about the virtues of taking control of your destiny, starting your own business, being your own boss, etc. -- real rags-to-riches glory. And then when you go out on your own and start dealing drugs out of the drive thru window you installed on your mobile home, next thing you know the cops are showing up and raining on your parade.

That's what happened to enterprising entrepreneurs William Parrish Jr. and McKenzee Dobbs, of Ocala, Florida. And where was their small business award?

Todd Standing, director of "Discovering Bigfoot", has little doubt about the existence of a sasquatch, or some hominoid or primate type of species living within British Columbia. The Canadian court system, however, is not similarly convinced. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Ball dismissed Standing's lawsuit against the province, asking for a declaration that sasquatch exists and alleging a "dereliction of duty, in regard to recognizing and protecting the Sasquatch species."

The court also dismissed Standing's claims that the government's nonrecognition of bigfoot infringed on the cryptozoologist's "fundamental human rights."

Beware, millennials -- the brands are seizing your means of communication. Or trying to at least. Procter & Gamble Company has apparently filed for trademarks on all our favorite sentences: LOL, WTF, and NBD.

FML.

It seems that every time a bounce house is inflated, it's bouncing away with toddlers inside. And our inflatable water slides are being shut down by federal consumer safety commissions. But we just can't stop blowing air into things and making them huge.

"There's nothing better than seeing a little kid walk into a giant pumpkin," Halloween Express owner Jon Majdoch told the Journal Sentinel. "They're just in awe." That was reason enough for Majdoch to forego the classic storefront and instead request a custom-made inflatable pumpkin in which to house his temporary costume shop; an inflatable pumpkin that collapsed, flooding the store, damaging goods inside, and leaving Majdoch unable to sell costumes and masks for two weeks leading up to Halloween last year. That tragedy kicked off some serious insurance litigation involving Majdoch's company and the manufacturer of the inflatable pumpkin.

Fifteen years as a lunch lady can be rough. The orthopedic shoes, hairnet, and plastic gloves; after a while, the reheated Salisbury steak doesn't get the same slice of love. But for a pair of sisters working at a pair of Connecticut public schools, the financial "perks" may have made up for all the abuse they were getting from the pepperoni pizza, liver and onions, chocolate pudding, chop suey, garlic bread, and green beans, not to mention the shouting kids.

Joanne Pascarelli and Marie Wilson allegedly skimmed half a million dollars from their lunchrooms over the past decade and a half. That's a whole lot of hoagies and grinders, navy beans, and meatloaf sandwiches.

You don't need to be a sneaker head to know the value of Air Jordans. Since their release 1984, annual releases of Nike's signature product are anxiously awaited, and some editions of the shoe can cost thousands of dollars on the secondary market. And if you can fool someone into thinking some fake Air Jordans are some real Air Jordans, you're making that profit instead of Nike.

You're also breaking the law. Federal prosecutors are claiming five New Yorkers -- Miyuki Suen, Jian Min Huang, Songhua Qu, Kin Lui Chen, and Fangrang Qu -- were part of an international counterfeit ring putting hundreds of thousands of fake Air Jordans on the street, and tens of millions of dollars in their pockets.

And they would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling aquarium goers, and staff, and surveillance video, and tips from the public...

In a robbery so brazen and ill-conceived that only the most generous would call it a heist, three Texans lifted a 16-inch horn shark from a tank at the San Antonio Aquarium, transferred "Miss Helen" to a towel-covered bucket, then wheeled her away in a baby stroller. They didn't make it far. Aquarium staff caught up to them in the parking lot, where the getaway driver had the integrity to leave his compatriots behind and speed off. He was arrested later the same day, and Miss Helen has been returned to her home tank.

Yes, yes, we've all heard the jokes before -- the federal government is full of crooks and lairs. But Amazon is mistaking congresspeople for actual criminals. The American Civil Liberties Union ran a little test on Amazon's facial recognition system, Rekognition, using it to compare public photos of every current member of the House and Senate to a database of 25,000 publicly available arrest photos. The results were not good.

The software ID'd 28 current congressmembers as criminals. And if you're cynically thinking, "I bet they were all people of color," well ... you're not entirely wrong.

Planet Fitness posts quite a few signs and slogans on its walls, designed to encourage gym-goers and set the tone for workouts. Messages like "You Belong," "No Gymtimidation," and "No Critics" adorn the interior of many Planet Fitness locations, but not all of the gym's members adhere to those mantras.

When confronted with a naked man doing yoga, some members of a Plaistow New Hampshire Planet Fitness called the cops. And when 34-year-old Eric Stagno was arrested for said naked yoga, he told those cops he thought the gym was a "judgment free zone."