So a lady in a banana costume, known as the "Banana Lady," walks in to a court room ... This is not the start of a joke. This is real.
Thankfully, this happened in the "Benchslappy" Seventh Circuit, and Judge Posner was on the panel assigned to this case, and wrote the opinion. You can probably guess where this is going.
The Banana Lady
Catherine Conrad ("Banana Lady") performs wearing a banana suit, which Judge Posner was kind enough to include a picture of Banana Lady in his opinion, because as he noted, it "is in the record."
Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune). And, we know Posner likes to do a bit of external research so he was kind enough to also include the following link of Banana Lady dancing the "Banana Shake,"
Several credit unions hired Banana Lady to perform at a credit union trade association event, where all the parties agreed, by Banana Lady's demands, that no photos or videos of her performance could be taken except for personal use. The organizers of the event let the attendees know about the prohibition after her performance. Apparently, Banana Lady didn't think posting photos on Facebook was personal use, which Judge Posner pointed out was implausible.
Banana Lady sued in Wisconsin state court, and all of her claims except the copyright claim were dismissed. Since federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over copyright claims, the copyright claim survived. She sued the credit unions for copyright infringement because the attendees took photos and posted them online.
The court found that Banana Lady's suit (her lawsuit, not banana suit -- just to be clear) had "no merit." Posner could have stopped there, but he didn't. Instead, he stated, "But we cannot end this opinion without remarking her abuse of the legal process by incessant filing of frivolous lawsuits." He noted that she has filed numerous meritless lawsuits, in some cases extracting settlements, and noted the litigation debt she has accumulated. He then benchslapped the district court for the Western District of Wisconsin for continuing "to allow her to file suits in forma pauperis. It should consider enjoining her from filing further suits until she pays her litigation debts."
If you practice in the Seventh Circuit, and want to avoid the fate of the Banana Lady, and ostrich attorneys, please read our handy, guide to avoid getting benchslapped in the Seventh Circuit.