7 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

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

Boorish Bosses

The world’s worst boss award goes to the management of the Sutton Place Restaurant and Bar in New York City, who allegedly enforced a “no fatties” policy for female staff members. Kristen McRedmond and Alexandria Lipton sued the sports bar for $15 million in 2006, claiming that managers not only subjected them to sexual comments and unwanted touching but that they also weighed waitresses and posted the results online. The two women say they were fired after complaining about restaurant policies.

The bar’s owner countered, saying the women were fired for tardiness and rule breaking, and presented disciplinary forms as evidence. But a judge ruled last week that the suit can go before a jury, noting that the disciplinary forms had not been shown to the women before their firings.

Religious Row

A former Time Warner Cable employee has hit the company with a $2 million discrimination lawsuit, claiming that he was fired because of his religious beliefs. Keith Reid, who worked in the company’s New York City maintenance department, says that he filed several complaints with human resources after he repeatedly saw co-workers watching pornography.

After making the last complaint, Reid was suspended and ultimately fired. He says that pornography offends his Christian beliefs and that he was fired “in retaliation [for] the multiple complaints of religious discriminations and harassment.”

Texas Tussle

In the future, patented steak may lead to some courtroom tussles. But two Texas steakhouses are currently locked in a legal battle, not over their signature dish, but over a lobster baked potato. The Longhorn Steakhouse Restaurant and Longhorn Steak & Ale opened in Corpus Christi in 1989. The trouble began a few years ago when LongHorn Steakhouse, a Florida-based chain run by Darden restaurants, began running ads in Corpus Christi, even though the company has no restaurants in the area.

According to a federal complaint filed by the two original restaurants, confused customers regularly come to them seeking to redeem coupons for the Florida chain. Diners also ask for the “lobster baked potato”—featured in several LongHorn ads—and are “aggravated” to discover that the item is not available. The plaintiffs are seeking to stop Darden and LongHorn from using their name or branding in the Corpus Christi area.

Faulty Furniture

Leah Angle and Hardy Moore were trying to make their house a home by renting furniture from a Houston, Texas, Rent-A-Center. Instead, the two say they were traumatized when they discovered the furniture was infested with bed bugs.

Shortly after Angle rented two sofas and a plasma TV from the company, her boyfriend and son began complaining of itching and blisters. When Angle notified Rent-A-Center, the company sent someone to spray the sofas, which reportedly sent bed bugs crawling around the apartment. Rent-A-Center eventually removed the furniture, but apparently not soon enough for Moore and Angle, who were diagnosed with scabies.

The couple is seeking unspecified monetary damages. Rent-A-Center says that its stores are inspected by a licensed exterminator every month.

Missing Meals

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and New York lawyer Richard Katz evidently agrees, as he sued his Manhattan health club for $500,000 when it allegedly deprived him of his yogurt and cereal. Katz says he paid $5,000 a year to become a member of The Setai Club and Spa Wall Street, enticed in part by the promise of a “full complimentary breakfast.”

When the health club failed to provide an adequate repast, Katz fired off angry letters to gym staff, including one that read “WHAT THE F— IS GOING ON? …How would you like to explain there has been no yogurt for two (2) weeks and now no cereal. When does the coffee run out?”

Spa manager Amanda Wells responded by revoking his membership, after which Katz sued for fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

But a Manhattan judge dismissed the suit this week and ordered Katz to pay $440 to the club’s attorney.

Striptease Spying

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless there are hidden cameras around. Instructors of a popular “Stripper 101” class and performance are suing the show’s producer, claiming they were secretly recorded in their dressing room. Women have been coming to the show since it opened in 2006, hoping to learn pole dancing, lap dancing and striptease skills from professional exotic dancers.

Now, five instructors say that they were filmed “performing personal and private acts” while in their dressing room at Planet Hollywood, and that show producer David Saxe and others watched the secret video footage. The women want more than $50,000 in punitive damages, along with other unspecified damages for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The company’s lawyer says the video cameras are simply “part of a systematic and ongoing long-term upgrade of the existing surveillance system.”


Damaging Deportation

Some rebellious kids threaten to run away and join the circus; one Dallas teenager ran away and was deported to South America. When Jakadrien Turner, 15, was arrested for shoplifting last year, she told authorities that she was a 21-year-old Colombian national. After finding no evidence to disprove her story, officials deported her to Colombia, where she spent seven months living in shelters before family members and Dallas police discovered her whereabouts. While abroad, Turner also became pregnant by a 29-year-old man.

The teen’s mother, Johnisa Turner, has filed a $15 million federal civil rights lawsuit against several U.S. government officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The suit says that government policies demonstrate “intentional discrimination based on race and ethnicity” and “a reckless disregard for human life and liberty.”

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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