6 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

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

Foul Food

Forget “pink slime,” and start worrying about green chicken. A former Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) employee is suing the fast food chain, claiming that he was fired when he argued with his manager about serving rotten chicken to customers.

According to James MacNeal’s suit, the Seaside, Ore. KFC where he worked regularly received shipments of fresh chicken with a “kill date” stamped on the box. Employees were told not to serve chicken more than 12 days after this date.

When MacNeal noticed that such shipment “had developed a noticeably foul, rotten smell,” and “changed color from white to light green,” he notified his manager, who told him to cook and serve the chicken anyway. He lost his job after he threatened to report the restaurant to health department officials.

Hallowed Haircut

That’s one expensive haircut. A North Carolina Taco Bell operator will pay $27,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed because of a haircut.

Christopher Abbey worked at a Fayetteville, N.C. Taco Bell for six years, until his employers told him that his long hair did not comply with the restaurant’s dress code. The problem? Abbey practices the Nazirite religion, whose members believe that long hair is a sign of devotion to God. His managers, however, were unconvinced, and fired him when he refused to have his hair cut.

Last summer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a successful lawsuit on Abbey’s behalf, claiming that the firing violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In addition to the financial settlement, Family Foods Inc. must also implement a formal religious accommodation policy.

Transplant Treachery

A typical job description doesn’t include donating a kidney to your boss. But that’s exactly what Long Island woman Debbie Stevens did, and she says she was fired for her trouble.

When Stevens learned that her boss, Jackie Brucia, needed a transplant, she offered up her kidney. And while she wasn’t a match for Brucia, Stevens did donate a kidney to another patient, allowing her boss to move up the transplant list.

After the operation, however, Brucia allegedly pressured Stevens to return to work, and then fired the recuperating employee for taking additional time off. Stevens has filed a discrimination complaint with New York’s Human Rights Commission, telling the New York Post that “I decided to become a kidney donor…and she took my heart.”

Sinister Sweets

A bag of peanut M&M’s was anything but sweet for Naples, Fla. inmate Juan Carlos Gonzales, who says he suffered dental damage after biting down on a “rock encrusted with chocolate.”

Gonzales reportedly did not receive the necessary dental repairs from prison doctors, even when a fractured molar and permanent filling prevented him from using the left side of his mouth. In response, he sued the Naples Jail Center and Mars Chocolate for compensation, pain and suffering.

Federal judge John Steele, however, tossed the case Apr. 23, ruling that the inmate’s claims do not "amount to a deprivation of a right secured under the United States Constitution or federal law."

Medical Mishap

A South Dakota man is suing the hospital where he was born, claiming that doctors there convinced his mother to have him circumcised under false pretenses. Dean Cochrun, now 28 years old, says he only recently realized that he had undergone the procedure, and alleges that hospital doctors falsely told his mother that circumcision was medically necessary.

Cochrun, who is currently in jail for kidnapping, says that the procedure robbed him of sexual sensitivity, and “the sense of security and well-being I am entitled to in my person.” He is seeking $1,000 in damages and reattachment surgery "in the hopes [he] could feel whole again."

Swallowed Screwdriver

Here’s one more reason to avoid the dentist’s office: A Lexington, Ky. woman says that her dentist dropped a small screwdriver down her throat while cleaning her dental implants.

Lena David claims that she reflexively swallowed the instrument, which was not secured “with dental floss or anything else,” and that she was unable to vomit it up. X-rays later revealed that the tool was lodged near her stomach.

Her dentist’s advice that David “eat a diet high in fiber” apparently failed, as she needed emergency surgery to remove the screwdriver from her digestive tract. She has filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified compensatory damages.

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