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7 of the strangest lawsuits making headlines

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


Matchmaking Malfeasance

All’s fair in love and war—unless you’re a matchmaker allegedly defrauding your clients.

Last January, New Jersey resident Jeanne McCarthy spent $7,000 to sign up for Two of Us matchmaking service, attracted by the company’s promise to set her up with at least one pre-screened match every two weeks. Instead, McCarthy says she went on only one date over the course of five months. To make matters worse, “[she] determined that this one date involved a man with three drunk driving convictions and an outstanding criminal warrant in Arizona.”

When Two of Us refused to grant her a refund, McCarthy filed a lawsuit, seeking unspecified compensatory damages and legal costs.


Painful Pitch

When a professional baseball player gets hit by a pitch, he takes first base. When New Jersey resident Elizabeth Lloyd was hit by a pitch, she sued the 11-year-old who threw it. Two years ago, Lloyd was sitting near the fenced-in bullpen where Little League catcher Matthew Migliaccio was helping a pitcher warm up, when she says Migliaccio intentionally threw a ball at her face. Lloyd suffered multiple fractures and underwent surgery following the injury

Now she is seeking more than $150,000 in damages for medical expenses, alleging that Migliaccio was negligent for “engaging in inappropriate physical and/or sporting activity” in her vicinity. Lloyd’s husband filed an additional count against the now 13-year-old, claiming the loss of “services, society and consortium” of his wife.

Migliaccio says he accidentally overthrew the ball. His father added that “It’s absurd to expect every 11-year-old to throw the ball on target…You assume some risk when you go out to a field. That’s just part of being at a game.”


Bathtime Blunder

Eight-year-old boys aren’t known for their cleanliness, but one Texas third-grader was allegedly so dirty that school employees resorted to forcibly bathing him. The boy’s parents, Amber and Michael Tilley, are suing the school district, claiming that a school nurse and counselor told their son that he “smelled badly, was dirty and had bad hygiene,” then removed his clothes and “began violently washing his body.”

The two deny that their son had poor hygiene, and say he was traumatized by the incident. "He just kept on and on, wanting to take baths," his mother said. "You know, he just felt so disgusting."


Burnout Ban

The First Amendment protects the central freedoms of religion, assembly, press, petition and speech. But does it protect motorcycle burnouts?

A Myrtle Beach, S.C. biker bar thinks so, and it has filed a lawsuit against Horry County, alleging that a recent ban on motorcycle burnouts violates its customers’ right to free speech. Burnouts—in which riders spin their back tires to create noise and smoke—have been an attraction at the bar’s annual biker rallies since its opening in 1996.

This year, however, the county banned the burnouts, calling them a public nuisance. The bar contends that the events are simply a way for patrons to “[express] their manliness and macho, as all males are prone and inclined to do to a greater or lesser degree.”


Versailles Vendetta

It’s not as big as the original Versailles, but David and Jackie Siegel’s American imitation is plenty spacious. If completed, the colossal Florida mansion will sprawl over 90,000 square feet and will count 13 bedrooms, 22 bathrooms, 10 kitchens, a movie theater and a fitness center among its amenities. David Siegel, a real-estate developer and CEO of Westgate Resorts, began construction on the house in 2006, catching the attention of documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield, who proceeded to film the billionaire and his wife over the course of four years.

During this time, the economy went south, lenders took charge of Westgate and all construction on Versailles stopped. Greenfield’s completed documentary, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year, was billed as “a rags-to-riches-to-rags” story in initial Sundance press releases.

Unsurprisingly, David Siegel took offense and filed a defamation lawsuit against Greenfield, her producer husband and Sundance Institute Inc., claiming that the promotional materials incorrectly depicted his family “as essentially broke and out of business.” Siegel alleges that the film’s promotion has damaged his reputation and caused him to lose business. He is seeking damages in excess of $75,000.


Litigious Lifeguard

He may not be as spry as the Baywatch cast, but 74-year-old Jay Lieberfarb says he’s still qualified to be a lifeguard. The septuagenarian filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Nassau County, N.Y., claiming that he was unfairly fired after he failed a swimming test in 2009.

According to Lieberfarb, he initially failed two swimming tests—at distances of 50 meters and 200 meters—before passing the 50-meter test on his second attempt one week later. He injured himself before he could retake the second test, and then was fired

Lieberfarb says that younger lifeguards who failed the tests were allowed to continue working until they eventually passed. Earlier this month, the county opted to give the former lifeguard $65,000 in back pay.


Tyrannosaurus Tangle

If “Jurassic Park” taught us anything, it’s that you should never attempt to steal dinosaur parts. A Florida fossil dealer who allegedly disregarded that advice is now facing the wrath of the U.S. government.

The saga began when Eric Prokopi brought a complete dinosaur skeleton to the U.S. in March 2010 with import documents identifying it as a reptile from Great Britain. But the bones are actually those of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex whose fossils have only been recovered in Mongolia. As Mongolia does not allow the removal of fossils, prosecutors suspected that the dinosaur was smuggled out of the country and attempted to stop its sale. When those efforts failed (“Ty” netted more than $1 million at auction last month), government officials filed a lawsuit to recover and return the bones.

Prokopi maintains that the import documents were correct, and that he devoted painstaking hours to assembling the skeleton. “My reaction to the government driving away with my dinosaur in a large white truck is the reaction I imagine Indiana Jones had to the ark being put into storage at the end of his film,” he says.

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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