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5 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

The following lawsuits exemplify the lighter, and sometimes bizarre, side of the legal world.

Failing Franco

A former professor at New York University filed a lawsuit alleging that he was fired for giving celebrity student James Franco a D in his class because the movie star attended only two of the 14 lectures for Directing the Actor II.

The professor, Dr José Angel Santana, claims that other professors at NYU have given Franco good grades in classes where he had similarly poor attendance, and that Franco receives preferential treatment because of the publicity he brings the university. Franco also has collaborated with NYU professors on independent film projects. NYU spokesman John Beckman said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter that Santana’s claims are “regrettable and disappointing.”

Proud Pippen

Former NBA player Scottie Pippen was extremely offended when media outlets, according to Pippen, falsely claimed he had filed for bankruptcy. He was so offended that he filed a $10 million lawsuit against 10 defendants, seeking $1 million from each for negligence, false light and defamation.

The ex-Bulls star sued CBS Corp., CNBC owners Comcast Corp. and General Electric Co., as well as other media outlets that reported the story, saying the now-removed article on April 26 that listed him as one of “15 Athletes Gone Bankrupt” was not only false, but damaging. According to the lawsuit, Pippen “never filed for bankruptcy, and has a substantial net worth, which has not been less than approximately $40 million in the last 10 years.

Smelly Suit

The mayor of Johnston, R.I., filed a lawsuit against the town’s landfill, claiming the odor from the piles of trash has become unbearable for residents.

“They’ve destroyed the quality of life for our community, they have destroyed real estate values, in my opinion they have destroyed the economic development of our town—which it was booming,” Mayor Joseph Polisena said.

Polisena is seeking a court order for the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. to eliminate the “rotten eggs” odor caused by hydrogen sulfide fumes from the decomposition of trash. The Resource Recovery Corp. has attempted to add gas-collection wells, but Polisena remains unsatisfied, saying he expected the stink to have been corrected by the middle of December.

Battling Braves

Pixar’s upcoming film "Brave" is about a fiery Scottish princess who doesn’t want to get married. The Atlanta Braves are about playing baseball. While those seem to be fairly separate entities, the Atlanta Braves are worried there may be some confusion between the two, and filed an objection to Disney’s attempt to trademark the movie’s title. However, the baseball team only owns the copyright to the word’s plural form, “Braves.

Sticky Situation

Reality star Mike Sorrentino of "Jersey Shore" fame, better known as the Situation, filed a lawsuit against Abercrombie and Fitch in November, claiming that the company’s t-shirts bearing slogans like “The Fitchuation” were infringing on his trademarks. Abercrombie responded by filing a defense requesting that Sorrentino’s suit be thrown out.

Abercrombie argues that Sorrentino doesn’t actually own the trademarks he claims have been infringed—he’s just applied for them. And, even if he did, Fitch says, their t-shirts would be protected under the First Amendment because they are parodies.

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