8 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

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

 

© Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com
Kardashian Kerfuffle

The Kardashians are back in court, this time over allegations that the diet system QuickTrim, which they endorse, is not effective. New York firm Burson & Fisher filed the $5 million lawsuit on behalf of four clients who claim that the sisters and QuickTrim’s owners exaggerated the formula’s effectiveness. The Kardashians have appeared in QuickTrim advertising, and have frequently tweeted about the product. According to the lawsuit, however, “QuickTrim’s main ingredient is a large dose of caffeine, which the FDA has determined is not a safe or effective treatment for weight control.”


”Desperate” Drama

”Desperate Housewives” is known for its dramatic plots, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the action has continued off-set for Nicolette Sheridan, aka housewife Edie Britt. Sheridan is suing the show’s creator, Marc Cherry, for wrongful termination and battery, alleging he hit her when she suggested script changes, then killed off her character after she complained about the slap. In response, Cherry’s defense played a seven-minute montage of every death in the show’s history—more than 40 in all—to show that Edie’s demise was far from unusual.

 

Sickening Soy

Can a sloppy joe constitute cruel and unusual punishment?  A judge will have to decide now that four Illinois inmates are continuing their lawsuit against the state, claiming that high amounts of soy in their diets caused them “irreparable, actual harm” and violated the Eighth Amendment. The men say they ate up to 100 grams of soy a day, though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends only 25 grams. As a result, the men allegedly suffered maladies ranging from thyroid damage to heart problems. Some prisons use soy-enhanced products to cut costs and boost nutrition.

 


Battling Bieber

Welcome to adulthood, Justin Bieber. Just days before his 18th birthday, the singer found himself embroiled in a lawsuit over a cartoon beaver. It started when app maker RC3 released its “Joustin Beaver” app, featuring an animated, floppy-haired beaver named JB, who dodges “Photo-Hogs” and signs “Otter-graphs.”  Bieber’s lawyers reportedly sent RC3 a cease-and-desist letter, saying that the company was not authorized to use Bieber’s likeness.

Now, the app maker has preemptively filed suit against the pop star, claiming the game is a parody, and thus protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. “Nowhere in the game is Justin Bieber’s name, photo, image or life story mentioned," RC3 said. "We were surprised to learn that in addition to being a talented musician, Mr. Bieber is also a fictional beaver.”

 


Bad Burrito

School lunches aren’t known for being delicious, but one cafeteria burrito proved particularly unappetizing for a Los Angeles student. The family of Dahlia Douglas is suing the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for negligent supervision and hiring after the high-schooler allegedly bit into a thermometer while eating a burrito. Douglas “immediately felt pain and discomfort from biting into the metallic foreign object,” and later suffered a severe allergic reaction and rash, according to the suit. Cafeteria staff reportedly admitted to accidentally leaving the thermometer inside the burrito.

 

 


Maddening Messages

A Florida man is leading a class action suit against a Miami Gardens strip club for bombarding his cell phone with over 280 text messages in one year. Tootsie’s Cabaret allegedly asked for patrons’ numbers as part of a contest to win a Rolex, but then used them to send a deluge of unwanted texts. Attorneys claim that these messages violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which limits unsolicited marketing calls. If found guilty, Tootsie’s could face a $500 fine for each text message.

 


Free Willy

A U.S. judge has tossed a lawsuit attempting to free SeaWorld’s “enslaved” whales. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed the suit, arguing that the aquatic park’s five orcas were being kept in slavery, in violation of the 13th Amendment. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller, however, ruled that—though PETA’s effort to protect the orcas was “laudable”—“both historic and contemporary sources reveal that the term 'slavery' and 'involuntary servitude' refer only to persons.” He added that PETA’s lawsuit, if successful, could have led to other suits brought on behalf of pets and service animals.

 


Cosmic Claim

In perhaps the most ambitious lawsuit ever, a Canadian man sued for ownership of the Earth, all other planetary bodies, four of Jupiter’s moons and the space in between. Sylvio Langevin, a Quebec resident who has filed 45 lawsuits since 2001, explained that he wanted to collect planets “like others collect hockey cards.” An unsympathetic judge, however, threw out the case and barred Langevin from filing any future suits without written permission from a judge. Langevin may have anticipated that his case would be difficult to prove: He admitted in his suit that “if there was a respondent, it would be God.”

 

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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