8 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

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

Street Justice

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor settled an age-old suit when she visited Sesame Street to rule on Goldilocks v. Baby Bear. Goldilocks was charged with breaking and entering and destruction of property, namely Baby Bear’s chair. Noting that “accidents happen,” Justice Sotomayor ordered Goldilocks to help Baby Bear repair his chair. And while some criticized the light sentence, Sesame Street residents seemed happy with the verdict.

Facebook Fraud

A Wisconsin woman is facing 33 fraud, theft, forgery and drug charges for allegedly selling fake Facebook stock after the social media site announced its plans to go public. Prosecutors say Marianne Oleson gave $14,000 of fake stock to a contractor in exchange for concrete work, and that she sold more than $40,000 of stock to another 66-year-old man. Oleson told the men she owned $1 million of Facebook stock because her daughter attended Harvard with company founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Internet Ire

Bad boyfriends beware: your indiscretions can now be used as online fodder by ex-girlfriends. This after a Manhattan district judge threw out a tortious interference lawsuit filed by Matthew Couloute Jr. Couloute sued two ex-girlfriends for allegedly posting insulting statements about him on LiarsCheatersRUs.com. One post called Couloute “scum”; another said the former prosecutor “lied and cheated his entire way through his 40 years of life.”

Couloute claimed that the anonymous posts damaged his professional image and made it difficult for him and his current wife to purchase a home. But Judge Harold Baer Jr. ruled that the statements were “hyperbolic statements of opinion,” which could not be shown to have harmed Couloute’s business relationships.

Perfume Problems

Pop star Britney Spears has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to end a $10 million fragrance lawsuit. Brand Sense Partners acted as a middleman in a perfume deal between Spears and Elizabeth Arden. They claim that the singer promised them 35 percent of the profits from her “Radiance” scent, but then cut them out of the proceeds by making a direct deal with Elizabeth Arden. Ironically, Spears was once sued by her former bodyguard for smelling bad.

Ineffective Ions

Kansas City Royals star George Brett racked up Hall of Fame stats throughout his career, but it apparently wasn’t because of his company’s ionic accessories. According to a lawsuit filed in an Iowa federal court, Brett Bros. Sports International falsely claimed that its line of ionic necklaces used titanium ions to increase focus, reduce fatigue and pain and improve overall athletic performance.  Iowa man Seth Thompson was the first to complain that his $30 necklace failed to boost his athleticism, but lawyers are now seeking class-action status for the suit.

Tomei’s Troubles

Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei is being sued by unhappy neighbors who claim that a leak in her Greenwich Village apartment caused more than $128,000 in water damage to their downstairs units. Parties to the lawsuit include The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. and “Pink Flamingos” director John Waters. According to the Wall Street Journal, Waters stated in an e-mail that the suit was a standard insurance claim, and that there is no animosity between him and Tomei.


Mel’s Mishaps

Just when you thought there wasn’t anyone in the world who hadn’t been offended by Mel Gibson, someone else has filed a lawsuit against the controversial star. Nader Sharif claimed that the actor convinced him to invest his life savings in Green Rubber, a company that devulcanizes rubber to recycle old tires. Gibson allegedly promised that Sharif could be reimbursed for his stock at any time, but then reneged on his promise. The actor settled for an undisclosed amount.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s deputy who arrested Gibson for drunk driving in 2006 reached a $50,000 settlement in his lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Deputy James Mee claimed that he was pressured into removing Gibson’s now infamous anti-Semitic rant from the arrest report and that he was later passed over for promotions.

Antenna Angst

Apple Inc. reached a settlement in its ongoing class-action lawsuit over problems with the iPhone 4’s reception. Dubbed “Antennagate,” the suit began after the phone’s 2010 release, when buyers began complaining of dropped calls. The lawsuit claims that Apple ignored the complaints, before admitting that the phone’s antenna failed when users held it in a “death grip.”  Under the terms of the settlement, which may affect up to 21 million users, customers can opt for $15 or a free iPhone case.

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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